What are they Actually Conserving These Days?

by Mike Maharrey

When I hear the term “conservative” in a modern political context, I can’t help but wonder – what exactly do they want to conserve?

One would assume a conservative in the United States would seek to “conserve” the principles upon which the Republic was founded. That would lead me to further assume that a conservative would stand up as the fiercest defender of the Constitution, not as a living breathing document, but as the instrument the framers intended. I would assume a conservative would adhere tenaciously the ideals of limited government, enumerated powers and the Tenth Amendment admonition that all authority not delegated to the federal government remains with the states and the people.

But you know what they say about assume. It makes an ass out of you and me.

Conservatives talk a good game, preaching limited government, individual responsibility, blah, blah blah.  But all of the talk floats off into the air like a comic strip thought bubble when the self-described conservative finds an issue he thinks government power can “fix.” How many “conservatives” voted for TARP? How many voted for the Patriot Act? How many supported NDAA? How many voted to expand Medicare with a prescription drug program? How many show any real inclination to phase out Social Security?

I could go on.

And on.

Modern conservatives show more interest in “conserving” the status quo of about 30 years ago than they do “conserving” the constitutional foundation of the United States. The conservative movement in America reminds me of a dinghy trailing a big sailboat. The larger vessel leads the way, cutting a new path through the water. The dingy perpetually follows behind, but always progresses forward as well, getting further and further away from the point of origin.  In the meantime, a sailor stands in the dinghy chastising the captain of the sailboat for moving forward, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they he continues to push ahead as well. He rails against the direction of the ship, all the while gradually accepting his current location – the very spot that was so abhorrent just a short time ago.

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1 Comment »

  1. vonmises1881 Said:

    Well said. And I’ll go further. The modern “conservative” seems to have no qualms about being an interventionist abroad when it comes to our “national security” which I now call our “international security”. Prior to the Cold War and the Buckley’ites taking over the Republican party, the right in America was far more anti-war than the left of Wilson and FDR. Most current conservatives have no idea of this history.

    I would guess that the current mouthpieces of the conservative movement, (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Fox News, et al) have no understanding of the Old Right in America. Or, if they do, they simply push it out of their minds and never mention it lest some of their followers do a little digging and find out there was a conservative/libertarian/Republican movement prior to Buckley/Goldwater/Reagan. It’s as if the Old Right has been sent down the memory hole in American history. Not to self promote (too much) but my blog is the only one in the WordPress universe that I know of that deals specifically with the Old Right. Sad.


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