Redefining conservatism, part CCXXXI

posted at 3:31 pm on June 9, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

For your Sunday afternoon reading assignment and essay material, I’d like to direct your attention to a pair of new columns on a very old topic. The golden oldie in question is the joint effort of “defining conservatism” and whether or not it needs “fixing” for the modern era. The first piece come from the now admitted non-conservative author, Josh Barro, in his Business Insider column, I’m Not A Conservative And You Shouldn’t Be One Either.

What if the problem with your political party is that the policies it advocates are bad?

You can’t fix that problem by “rebranding” the same platform or finding younger, less-white candidates to promote it. You definitely can’t fix it by leaning into your failed policies and becoming more extreme.

The solution is to change your ideology. And that’s exactly what Republicans need to do.

There’s a large collection of specifics which follow, but those few, introductory grafs really do describe the material which follows. But to be fair, give it a look, just to see where he’s coming from.

For the opposing side of the aisle, we offer Matt Lewis of Daily Caller fame, with his response, I am a conservative (and so can you).

Look, I’m sympathetic to the idea of reforming conservatism — of making it more relevant to 21st century Americans. For this reason, I wrote a Guardian column in September of 2012, called “A GOP running on empty,” and the morning after Romney lost, I think I coined the phrase, “modernize, not moderate.”

But Barro has apparently decided we must destroy the village in order to save it.

In fairness, some of our disagreement might hinge on semantics. Barro believes that “conservatism is whatever ideology is shared by most of the people who call themselves conservatives…” That’s a sort of philosophical relativism. Just because a bunch of people call something “conservative” doesn’t mean they get to own the word.

To once again invoke the hackneyed old standard, read the whole thing. But I have a couple of additional questions on the subject, both for Josh and Matt as well as the community here. Coming from the fine old tradition of the NERP community, (Northeastern Republican Politicos) I’m no stranger to the endless debate over who gets to define what is or isn’t conservative. It’s been going on since well before many people reading this were born. But can we honestly stick a flag on a particular set of hills and claim some purity on hammering out the One True Conservatism? We can’t even decide on the definition of “red” in all cases, not even if you’re talking about a specific frequency of light in the visible spectrum. Is it red? Is it maroon? And what the heck is salmon?

Is your sister pretty? I suppose that depends who you ask. That’s the problem with adjectives, and “conservative” is an adjective when applied to American politics. Our language unfortunately evolves as we go, and words take on new or shifting meanings, much to the frustration of those who came before.

Even if we hammer it down to a few first principles, what “brand” of conservatism is the defining standard? Is it fiscal conservatism, social conservatism or foreign policy conservatism? Can you “qualify” on one or two but “fail” on the other and still be a member of the club? Barro is talking about “bad policies” that don’t fit in with the modern era. I call hogwash on that, since a lot of things which become less widely popular are not suddenly “bad” just because they are too hard for some people to maintain in their personal lives. But I do agree with Matt that simply finding a new delivery vehicle to win over a new generation of voters isn’t an answer. Policy is what it is. It either “works” or it doesn’t. And in our system, the majority gets to pick the people who implement policy. Coming up on the short end of that stick doesn’t mean that your own personal philosophy is “bad” but it does mean that more people want to do things a different way. You can still live up to your own ideals and make your case to convince others while respecting the differences between people.

Oh wait… that’s crazy talk. Must be all the coffee.


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kindov a bizarre premise but not bad points

Drunk Report on June 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Phyllis Schlafly v Peggy Noonan

Capitalist Hog on June 9, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Hot.

Capitalist Hog on June 9, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Coming up on the short end of that stick doesn’t mean that your own personal philosophy is “bad” but it does mean that more people want to do things a different way.

It doesn’t even mean that necessarily. It could simply mean people didn’t like the guy running, or believed he supported things he didn’t….like banning birth control for women and forcing them to have rape babies.

xblade on June 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Funny, apparently conservatism is such that people like Jazz Shaw and the whackjobs here can’t figure it out, yet progressives and the left have their crap together.

Perhaps that is why we are losing. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

eva3071 on June 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

But to be fair, give it a look, just to see where he’s coming from.

No thanks. I prefer to not let leftist concern trolls define my political views.

Look, I’m sympathetic to the idea of reforming conservatism — of making it more relevant to 21st century Americans.

What the Fluke does that mean? Are federalism, limited government, and individual liberty passe?

Is your sister pretty?

If brothers are worrying about whether or not their sisters are pretty they have other disgusting issues.

You can still live up to your own ideals and make your case to convince others while respecting the differences between people.

Let me make this simple for you: Conservatism is limited government. And what flows from that is federalism. And what flows from that is individual liberty. Giant philosophical conundrum solved. Everything else is haggling over price.

NotCoach on June 9, 2013 at 3:50 PM

How about redefining it as constitutionalist? A Republican who goes to DC to spend money on his favored pork projects is no different than a Demonrat that wants the same thing. Nothing changes with fiscal or foreign policy conservatism. Social conservatism means the same thing, but constitutionalism means that you don’t legislate social policy at the national level.

Odysseus on June 9, 2013 at 3:51 PM

…redefine progressives… instead!

KOOLAID2 on June 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

…redefine progressives leftists… instead!

KOOLAID2 on June 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Ds and Rs of today, all rats.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2013 at 4:07 PM

A conservative is someone who was not on the fence about voting for Obama.

Valiant on June 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Even if we hammer it down to a few first principles, what “brand” of conservatism is the defining standard? Is it fiscal conservatism, social conservatism or foreign policy conservatism?

Social conservatism. It serves as the intellectual foundation for a philosophy of conduct, which then extends into governance — i.e., how one conducts affairs of state.

When you say that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that’s not a budget statement, and it’s not guideline to diplomacy.

Stoic Patriot on June 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

You can’t fix that problem by “rebranding” the same platform or finding younger, less-white candidates to promote it. You definitely can’t fix it by leaning into your failed policies and becoming more extreme.

Why not? That’s exactly what the Marxocrats have done so successfully since 2006.

fitzfong on June 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

I’m not a conservative, I am a believer in individual liberty and the concept of Natural Rights. To be Manichean about it, there those of us who believe in the ideas manifested in the Declaration of Independence and then there are the marxists. And even marxism is shorthand for those who believe that the State is supreme, which includes communists, socialists, fascists and feudalists.

rbj on June 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

We don’t need to do anything to Conservatism. We all know if we are Conservatives what it means. It’s the ones that are losing that need to redefine it. We all know the imposters. We know it when we hear it and see it and read it. We all know.

BetseyRoss on June 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Both parties want the same thing: One big Detroit, with California weather, and with a walled off neighborhood and school in the center for the insanely rich and corrupt. That’s the American Dream!

Punchenko on June 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

…redefine progressives… instead!

KOOLAID2 on June 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Marxist, Communist, Liberal, Progressive

the definition stays the same, only the name changes…

If history is any guide, we really need to show people who they really are, then they’ll have to change the name again.

trubble on June 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

The continued Republican march to the left will create a vacuum of power on the right that will be filled by Conservatives that don’t need redefining.

My Brother and Brother in-law no longer vote Republican and if things don’t change I’ll be joining them soon. The four million Republicans that refused to vote for the liberal Massachusetts Governor Romney in 2012 will be a growing political force.

RJL on June 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

I think I said it on one of the Headline threads today, but let me repeat it here:

The Rats, the Lawgivers-In-Black they pushed through themselves and snuck through Pubbies who didn’t know any better, their Presstitute Organs, and the AstroTurf they ginned up, pushed the envelope every single time. It’s time to push back.

Steve Eggleston on June 9, 2013 at 4:17 PM

First you have to win or the rest simply conversation.
Romney and others fell into the same trap Republicans always do.
They let themselves get defined by kneejerk liberals and fall into their gotcha’traps they never push back.

For example.
Who the hell really cared about abortion as an election issue but Dems tricked Santorum into getting all preachy about it and came off like an angry Mr. Rogers and he even wore the damn sweater.

Another fine example would be how they made fun of Ann Romney as if she was Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s island and all the while Mrs. Obama became American royalty with lavish vacations.

If I was Romney on the stage with Obama I would have went for the throat and asked him why he was in Pakistan as a young man and whose passport was he using.
Stuff like that.
I would have made MSNBC gasp in horror and charge the stage.

NeoKong on June 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Romney and McCain are not conservatives. They both ran and they both lost.

CW on June 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Why define conservatism when it’s not even being executed in the mainstream?

Were talking the GOP leadership is anything but conservatives. So the fact of another attempt of redefining conservationism serves no purpose rather to water down and bring it closer to liberalism.

One of the important reasons that conservatism needs put into the mainstream preferably by the GOP is so the public can experience it’s affects onto the political spectrum eventually into their own lives because majority of voters don’t know what conservatism is are can’t recall Reagan’s application of it that prospered the nation in so many ways.

Let’s apply conservatism within the GOP as mainstream and spread it from there.

So let’s forget about redefining because that’s what the left does and everything they touch turns to crap.

b1jetmech on June 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Here we go again. Useless articles by people who have never even read the most basic of books, like ‘Conscience of a conservative’, or even listened to the many speaches of Ronald Reagan.

These ‘wanna be reformers’ are completely ILLITERATE of what it is they are ‘reforming’.

As for ANY CLOWNS that claim ‘government siezure of property for the purpose of redistribution is what they believe in’, they are simply espousing Marx and Lenin as their ‘new pillars of society’.

Freddy on June 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM

In Europe “Conservatism” is hard to define and squishy by its very nature, because most european countries are based on ethnicity and not on political principles, articulated by a bunch of Founding Fathers through Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Federalist Papers.

If we’ve got all that going for us and still squabble about this question, we might as well give up now.

Valkyriepundit on June 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

but those few, introductory grafs really do describe the material which follows.

Do you mean “Graphs?”

Look, I’m sympathetic to the idea of reforming conservatism — of making it more relevant to 21st century Americans. For this reason, I wrote a Guardian column in September of 2012, called “A GOP running on empty,”

Look, you and everyone else, Conservative != Republican. They are not the same. Before you can discus this intelligently, get that clear in your head.

There is nothing wrong with conservatism. In point of fact few of its principles have been applied.

We have two choices and we all know it: Gut the government or Big brother. There is no middle ground.

As we are learning daily to our mutual horror. These discussions of reforming the republican party remind me of discussing the wall paper while the house is burning down.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

and discus should read discuss.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

My Brother and Brother in-law no longer vote Republican and if things don’t change I’ll be joining them soon. The four million Republicans that refused to vote for the liberal Massachusetts Governor Romney in 2012 will be a growing political force.

RJL on June 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

**slow clap**

That worked so well for the 2012 election, didn’t it?

Gave us a second term of Obama. Yep. Great strategy.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

The problem the anglo-right faces is that it’s origin is with Burke. Burkean conservatism always cedes the future to the opposition. Burkean conservatism can never be revolutionary. Burkean conservatism is essentially just moneyed interest prejudice… which changes when their money is at stake.

This is why I’m attracted to this guy, this guy, and these guys.

ninjapirate on June 9, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Let me make this simple for you: Conservatism is limited government. And what flows from that is federalism. And what flows from that is individual liberty. Giant philosophical conundrum solved. Everything else is haggling over price.

NotCoach on June 9, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Jazz seems like a nice fellow, but you clearly are more qualified for his position.

Alinsky on June 9, 2013 at 4:47 PM

**slow clap**

That worked so well for the 2012 election, didn’t it?

Gave us a second term of Obama. Yep. Great strategy.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Many people have no interest in voting for liberals regardless of what party they belong to. You are upset that the Republican leftist wasn’t elected and the Democratic one was.

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

If your platform and your voting records reads at least 50-60 percent the same as Democrats; then no you can’t call yourself “conservative.”

melle1228 on June 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM

If I’m the last standing conservative, so be it. I stand for the Constitution, the rule of law and a limited Federal government.

voiceofreason on June 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

In Europe “Conservatism” is hard to define and squishy by its very nature, because most european countries are based on ethnicity and not on political principles, articulated by a bunch of Founding Fathers through Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Federalist Papers.

If we’ve got all that going for us and still squabble about this question, we might as well give up now.

Valkyriepundit on June 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Actually, Europe is painfully-easy to explain. The divide between European Conservatives and European Liberals is who has the whip hand in the Government-Industrial Complex. European Conservatives see the industrialists as having the whip hand, and European Liberals see government drones as having the whip hand.

Steve Eggleston on June 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Many people have no interest in voting for liberals regardless of what party they belong to. You are upset that the Republican leftist wasn’t elected and the Democratic one was.

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

No. I am upset that we have to put up with a Democratic incompetent in the White House who is giving us all kinds of calamity and upheaval, including rising unemployment, when we might have had a Republican moderate who could have fixed at least a few things.

Welcome to the real world. Black-white thinking means you lose.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

As the Left, be they Liberals, Progressives, Marxists, Communists or Fascists, put the State in the maximalist position where it must be in all aspects of life, society and government, then what is the counter to it?

How about individual freedom and liberty? You know, the stuff in the Declaration which is, itself, an encapsulation of the post-Westphalian thought streams that would coalesce around the guys like Grotius and Pufendorf. Tough reading, those two, but well worth it… if you want to ‘modernize’ conservatism then why not look at the work of Robert Nozick who put the Einsteinian thought experiment to use in critical analysis of government and the origins of the State. If government is an organ of society and the Nation is born in marriage, then the State is that secondary creation of government at work. When one steps away from what we have and rips it all down in a thought experiment then what do you have? And, more importantly, what do you get from that State of being?

Then there is the Nozick flipping everything on its head by pointing out that consensual private contracts, to which all are agreeable, leads to an unequal division of goods and capital in society. From equality of process you get inequality of result, and yet no one is snookered in the doing. Rip away the vituperative facade of Marxism and actually just look at the process of spending, creation and capital accumulation and see how it proceeds when done in an environment of mutual agreement and satisfaction. Nozick got to see real world examples of equal distribution of capital turn into unequal ones in his own lifetime in place like Poland where everyone got a share of the old State companies. Within five years they had majority owners, and yet the starting point was the great Marxist dreamland of the workers owning equal shares of everything.

That didn’t last long because of unequal shifts in capital due to consensual and mutually agreeable trades.

So instead of trying to rip a page from Gramsci, why not lift some pages from Pufendorf, Locke, Burke, Smith, de Vattel, Grotius… a bunch of folks who just called it as it was and didn’t try to varnish things overmuch with emotionalism, romanticism and other post-classical junk that Marx and others got so enamored of? You know, to the romantic point of seeing that totalitarianism is a good thing? Avoid the rebranding, call it like it is, and just speak it plainly for all to understand. Utilize non-deterministic analytical tools that take subjective viewpoint into account and yet demonstrate real world results.

Conservatism doesn’t need updating.

It needs people pointing out that human nature is constant and the only way that it can be changed by the State is for the worst. That doesn’t work out so well… yet this free association of individuals exercising personal liberty does just the opposite. It was a radical idea, once.

And it is once more.

ajacksonian on June 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Jazz – The LAST PErson that should be “redefining” this or anything………….

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151506102999024&set=a.208873299023.130383.208763874023&type=1&theater

williamg on June 9, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Conserve, means to hold down, to restrain, to control.

On the topic of government and taxes, this is what is needed.

It is precisely what is not needed when it comes to privacy and personal lives. Socons still haven’t figured this out.

Moesart on June 9, 2013 at 5:07 PM

No. I am upset that we have to put up with a Democratic incompetent in the White House who is giving us all kinds of calamity and upheaval, including rising unemployment, when we might have had a Republican moderate who could have fixed at least a few things.

Welcome to the real world. Black-white thinking means you lose.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Although I voted for Romney, I look at it another way. Republicans have raised taxes, almost succeeded in passing gun control, and funded Obamacare– all under the guise of being opposing party. I can’t imagine the horrible things they would have passed with a Republican President. Gun control could be a very real thing today, especially when I have a feeling that Romney would have caved to pressure from the media and polls.

melle1228 on June 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Perhaps those that call themselves conservative need to find another name for themselves, just like liberals did.

Even HA uses the term progressive now. Not liberal. That scam worked.

Moesart on June 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

It is precisely what is not needed when it comes to privacy and personal lives. Socons still haven’t figured this out.

Moesart on June 9, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Please tell me where socons want to get into “personal lives?’ And please don’t give me this crap about gay marriage, because I work in family law; state marriage is neither private nor personal. It is a state sanctioned contract that has very real fiscal ramifications on society.

Socons did NOTHING to pull abortion out of the state’s hands; that was liberals.. So again, I ask you what FEDERAL legislation has passed that gets socons into privacy and personal lives?

melle1228 on June 9, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Basically, Conservatism is cheering “W” out onto a limb, and then sawing it off behind him. That act is then followed by running liberal McCain and Massachusetts socialist Romney as Republican presidential candidates. One would think that Conservatives couldn’t top that Dynamic Trio, but I wouldn’t bet against it with Christie now on deck.

Karmi on June 9, 2013 at 5:13 PM

when we might have had a Republican moderate who could have fixed at least a few things.

Welcome to the real world. Black-white thinking means you lose.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

The real world of Massachusetts? Not political rhetoric but actual ‘real world’ policies and results in Massachusetts would suggest that Romney would do as he did in that state when he had the opportunity. You would rather believe that he was kidnapped, taken away and held for ransom by those evil Democrats that made him do all that liberal stuff when he was Governor.

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

What if the problem with your political party is that the policies it advocates are bad?

How do we measure “bad”? Seems to me that Progressive policies have been the dominant political trend since the late 70′s and the dominant cultural trend since the late 60′s and things haven’t been improving on either end so, how do we measure “bad”?

Cleombrotus on June 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

What if the problem with your political party is that the policies it advocates are bad?

It’s just more rhetorical sleight of hand from these people. They’re “bad” because they have defined “bad” to mean anything that doesn’t agree with their policies, not because there are measurable effects.

Cleombrotus on June 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Funny, apparently conservatism is such that people like Jazz Shaw and the whackjobs here can’t figure it out, yet progressives and the left have their crap together.
Perhaps that is why we are losing. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
eva3071 on June 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Yes. A thousand times Yes!

Cleombrotus on June 9, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Meritocracy, personal responsibility, logical consistency, and the rule of law are the four sides that make a conservative square. The only reason we’re having this discussion is because the GOP has no longer believes in or represents ANY one of those principles. Our elected R’s aren’t a meritocratic bunch, they have shown no personal responsibilitym, they have no logical consistency, and they routinely ignore the rule of law when expedient. Conservatism needs neither rebranding nor abandonment – it needs people worth voting for to champion it. And that’s the rub; we have no one to vote for and from the looks of it nothing Jazz and the other egg heads pontificate about will change that anytime soon.

abobo on June 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Purists had a choice between two major candidates: one who was better and one who was worse. The Perfect Conservative Candidate was not on the ballot.

Purists who sat out might as well have cast a vote for the one who was worse, and now can own that vote, as far as I’m concerned.

I hope your purity keeps you warm at night while America sinks into totalitarianism.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Purists had a choice between two major candidates: one who was better and one who was worse. The Perfect Conservative Candidate was not on the ballot.

Not looking for the perfect candidate just one that will make the slightest bit of difference to the massive growth of the welfare state. No interest in those candidates who actually add to the welfare state and expand big government.

Purists who sat out might as well have cast a vote for the one who was worse, and now can own that vote, as far as I’m concerned.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

The difference between Romney and Obama can only be found in the fine print of their respective resumes. It isn’t enough to get excited about.

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 6:02 PM

If you are confused about what conservatism is, then I would suggest you are not conservative (*cough* Jazz *cough*)

It’s not hard:

1) Conserving the original intent of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers (not according to modern interpretation, but THEIR own interpretation…they wrote extensively and clearly about their intentions)

2) Conserving the moral and cultural core of America (used to be called American Values). Again, look at the Founding Fathers…they left plenty of clues as to what this is

3) Falls under 1 and 2 really, but -> A tiny, limited Federal Government

4) Falls under 1, 2, and 3 really, but again people don’t seem to see how so… -> Freedom of the individual and his/her property

Jazz Shaw, Neo-Cons (Bush, ect), The Romney/McCain Bunch, and the “Fear the Socons” crowd are NOT conservative. They may agree on some issues, but they are certainly not friends to the Founding Principles of this nation.

Pattosensei on June 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

…ditto that!…your statement_is_sufficient

KOOLAID2 on June 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM

I stand with Reagan on this as well:

Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.

I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party” — when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.

I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.

I would much rather die a “purist” than a traitor to the cause.

Pattosensei on June 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Kirk’s Ten Conservative Principles:

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.

Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.

Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.

Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.

Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.

Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.

Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.

Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.

Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.

Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

And to add to this, here is something from “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers that really delineates where the split first happened, etc. as he defined Communism:

“It is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: “Ye shall be as gods.” It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different version of the same vision: the vision of God and man’s relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.”.

This is why the Progressive Movement is powerful. It is in fact a Religion and its adherents are warriors for their movement, and they are ACTIVISTS.

In the end, this is why they would win. FOCUS, burning the midnight oil, and the use of HATE. They are Mordor and they WILL…BUILD…the MATRIX. And, if we are not willing to all be activists to fight for the way the world really is and our relationship with God, we will lose.

Our rights come from God, not man. That is our START Jazz.

KirknBurker on June 9, 2013 at 6:14 PM

A great plan would be to let the concern trolls over at Business Insider, a group of Obama Democrats if there ever was one, define conservatism. Why don’t we let the American people define conservatism. They seem to be doing quite well at exactly that in the US House of Representatives every two years.

And recently Sarah Palin and others have got to work on the US Senate. The fruit of their labors are some of the new and most interesting young conservative US Senators. Who, by the way, are detested by the exact same people who keep losing GOP Presidential elections.

Viator on June 9, 2013 at 6:15 PM

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Purists had a choice between two major candidates: one who was better and one who was worse. The Perfect Conservative Candidate was not on the ballot.

Purists who sat out might as well have cast a vote for the one who was worse, and now can own that vote, as far as I’m concerned.

I hope your purity keeps you warm at night while America sinks into totalitarianism.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

I swore I would NOT vote for Romney. But in the end I did to hopefully stop Obama. I thought of it as when retreating in battle and blowing up a bridge to slow down pursuit by the enemy.

KirknBurker on June 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Pattosensei on June 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

The key to rallying and uniting the Right is for the main camps in our coalition, socons, libertarians, neocons, constitutionalists, to go back to the beginning of our country and what is stated in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and the original intent of our Founding.

The Founding and its documents, MUST be the glue that holds us together.

The Founding meshs conservatism, libertarianism, understanding of God and human nature in a way that should be the philosophy and platform for the Republican Party at the national level going forward.

KirknBurker on June 9, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Purists had a choice between two major candidates: one who was better and one who was worse. The Perfect Conservative Candidate was not on the ballot.

Purists who sat out might as well have cast a vote for the one who was worse, and now can own that vote, as far as I’m concerned.

I hope your purity keeps you warm at night while America sinks into totalitarianism.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

The bi+chyness is staggering. Like you have some moral authority because you accepted that Romney was our candidate. A lot of those people you call purist were turned off by rhetoric just like the BS you spouted, and many of us “purist” went out and voted for the “electable” Romney. And many more of you have forgotten that it is the CANDIDATES JOB to bring voters them; not the voters fault if they don’t vote. If Romney didn’t do that; then he was a flawed candidate.

melle1228 on June 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM

The economic shock of the last five years showed several ways in which conservative economic policies fail to uplift the middle class. An improperly regulated banking sector leveraged up irresponsibly and then crashed, causing a mini-depression. People can’t find jobs. Their wages are not rising robustly.

The conservative prescription of tax cuts and regulation cuts does not address these problems.

Impenetrable ignorance.

Knott Buyinit on June 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Karmi on June 9, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Sure are a lot of dopes who don’t know the difference between a republican and a conservative.

Impenetrable ignorance.

Knott Buyinit on June 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Yeah considering no conservative policies have been in place or operation for a long time.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Can we start by not branding a fellow conservative no-good-dirty-sausage-sucking-RINO if he doesn’t agree 100% with your version of conservatism back to the beginning of time?

tdarrington on June 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Can we start by not branding a fellow conservative no-good-dirty-sausage-sucking-RINO if he doesn’t agree 100% with your version of conservatism back to the beginning of time?

tdarrington on June 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM

If you could give us a definition of conservative that doesn’t include Barack Obama then sure!

sharrukin on June 9, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Can we start by not branding a fellow conservative no-good-dirty-sausage-sucking-RINO if he doesn’t agree 100% with your version of conservatism back to the beginning of time?

tdarrington on June 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Sure thing you no-good-dirty-sausage-sucking-CINO.

NotCoach on June 9, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Redefining conservatism, part CCXXXI

Exactly.

The first thing that came to my mind was: “Hmmm, wonder where that line of verbal ruminating originated.”

And I’d be willing to bet that it happened at some meetings between the Inside-The-Beltway GOP congressional types and lobbyists and strategists, and intentionally was passed down the line as sorta kinda gossip about it being of serious consideration among the GOP Insider Crowd that got passed along to the appropriate media types.

Especially the “new media” types who jumped on it to be the first out there ahead of everyone else to discuss the issue, actually making it an issue. Which is precisely what the Inside-The-Beltway GOP congressional types wanted to happen but didn’t want any fingers pointing their way by serious Conservatives who are seeing through the ploy for what it really is.

And that is the strategy to unnerve and distract true conservatives before the 2014 mid-terms so that they and Tea Party groups won’t have time to actually get into gear for the elections with solid conservative candidates to back because the GOP Insiders are hoping they’ll still be confused and arguing among themselves over what constitutes Conservatism and what defines a true Conservative candidate.

The Establishment GOP congressional and party crowd hate the Conservatives, and want back control of the party’s future. It’s that simple. This is just one aspect of their strategy to disempower the Conservatives who are causing them grief.

UPNorthWolf on June 9, 2013 at 7:43 PM

And, if we are not willing to all be activists to fight for the way the world really is and our relationship with God, we will lose.

Our rights come from God, not man. That is our START Jazz.

KirknBurker on June 9, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Bottom line, really.

Cleombrotus on June 9, 2013 at 8:02 PM

it is true that the establishment hates conservatives. Rush has always said that…and i’ve come to really see that it is really true.

as far as re-branding, this is mindless. barro is just trying to get some clicks..and I’m not playing. The GOP requires DC. They can not stand up to DC because of their money, their children, their pride or just because they are too stupid or venal to do so.

if you have a corrupt and backward looking political class the country will go backwards. If urban legends pass for fact, if the GOP buys into the socialist agitprop and political theater…well, what is there to re-brand? It is who they are.

for example, the best Rove et al. can muster on the energy front is ‘all of the above’. Now there’s a slogan for the party of stupid. They are either too stupid or too scared or too bought to have a vision.

They are the brand…it is who they are. Barro would be horrified if someone started picking apart his little world of sophistry. That is why you never hear Sowell, Williams, etc on the MSM

that is why everything is horse race stuff…no one want to confront the sophistry

r keller on June 9, 2013 at 8:10 PM

and, btw…let’s take a vision. SDI.

Reagan hated war and nuclear war. So let’s shoot them down.

DC got hysterical…mad man, starwars, senile. Physically Impossible…he’s such a moron, sleeps during meetings

flash forward 30 years, and little barry moves his ass and gets those ABMs ready just in case that the NorKs do something stupid

that is vision. Tear Down This Wall….that is vision. Rove would be peeing down his leg if the GOP did something like that. He’d flip to D

r keller on June 9, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Coming from the fine old tradition of the NERP community, (Northeastern Republican Politicos) I’m no stranger to the endless debate over who gets to define what is or isn’t conservative.

Yeah, Jazz, I wouldn’t call you “conservative”. You’re Republican. And those aren’t the same thing. (They use to overlap quite a bit, but not so much anymore.)

And I’d be willing to bet that it happened at some meetings between the Inside-The-Beltway GOP congressional types and lobbyists and strategists and Democrats/progressives,

UPNorthWolf on June 9, 2013 at 7:43 PM

FIFY

GWB on June 9, 2013 at 8:21 PM

And I’d be willing to bet that it happened at some meetings between the Inside-The-Beltway GOP congressional types and lobbyists and strategists and Democrats/progressives,

UPNorthWolf on June 9, 2013 at 7:43 PM

FIFY

GWB on June 9, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Excellent ‘catch’. Thanks for fixing it.

UPNorthWolf on June 9, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Purists had a choice between two major candidates: one who was better and one who was worse. The Perfect Conservative Candidate was not on the ballot.

Purists who sat out might as well have cast a vote for the one who was worse, and now can own that vote, as far as I’m concerned.

I hope your purity keeps you warm at night while America sinks into totalitarianism.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

What an incredibly arrogant post.

The moderates backed a pro-Obamacare candidate, who favored high taxes and refused to think of Obama other than a “good guy who was in over his head”.

By the way, can you explain who is who is who in your paragraph? Taking a long-term view instead of a short-sited one, I honestly don’t know who is who in your little diatribe.

Conservatives warned moderates what would happen. We warned them in 2008. But apparently moderates are too tone-deaf, marching in lockstep with the pied piper, to hear from the base.

You might hear better if you took your head out of your butt.

dominigan on June 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM

The bot that wrote this post needs to go get stuffed.

sartana on June 9, 2013 at 11:48 PM

It’s just more rhetorical sleight of hand from these people. They’re “bad” because they have defined “bad” to mean anything that doesn’t agree with their policies, not because there are measurable effects.

Cleombrotus on June 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Indeed.

AesopFan on June 10, 2013 at 12:17 AM

dominigan on June 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Are you asking me who is better: Obama or Romney?

Are you kidding me? Are you being serious?

Purists are funny.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 4:55 AM

melle1228 on June 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Yeah, if you held your nose and voted for a candidate that doesn’t line up with your “purity test”, you’re not a purist, are you? At least not in practice. So my post wasn’t really for you.

Chill out.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 4:58 AM

I swore I would NOT vote for Romney. But in the end I did to hopefully stop Obama. I thought of it as when retreating in battle and blowing up a bridge to slow down pursuit by the enemy.

KirknBurker on June 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM

I was not a Romney fan either and certainly didn’t cast a vote for him in the primaries. But this was my basic philosophy in the general election, and it’s why I voted for him.

Saying “things would have been just as bad if we had President Romney” is water under that burned bridge. It’s the purist clarion call, “they all suck”. Yeah, welcome to planet earth. Choose the ones who suck less–until we can find the ones who don’t suck.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 5:03 AM

Let me make this simple for you: Conservatism is limited government. And what flows from that is federalism. And what flows from that is individual liberty. Giant philosophical conundrum solved. Everything else is haggling over price.

A direct quote from Not coach. Perfectly and succinctly put, and thank you.

This is the definition of conservative.

mountainaires on June 10, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Yeah, if you held your nose and voted for a candidate that doesn’t line up with your “purity test”, you’re not a purist, are you? At least not in practice. So my post wasn’t really for you.

Chill out.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 4:58 AM

I won’t “hold my nose” again for the GOP substandard candidate. I am not a purist, but I also no longer register as a Republican after 2012..

melle1228 on June 10, 2013 at 7:34 AM

Are you asking me who is better: Obama or Romney?

Are you kidding me? Are you being serious?

Purists are funny.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 4:55 AM

Says the person who would eat brownies with dog poop in them.

The “purity” you sneer at is standing for conservative ideas… and that’s what the base is… conservative. And if you want those votes, nominate a conservative, who represents conservative ideas.

We have been over Romney, and over Romney. He said he would repeal Obamacare, and then he said he’d keep the good parts… which is it? He said Obama was a nice guy over his head, well… is he? Fact is, he would be just like Bush, the same Republican who gave us Medicare part D and the Patriot Act which is currently enabling Obama. Obama has the tools now because Bush gave them to him. Remember… long-term verse short-cited.

Just because you jump every time you’re told doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than us. It means you follow orders, while we tend to think for ourselves.

Btw, how does that brownie taste?

dominigan on June 10, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Let me make this simple for you: Conservatism is limited government. And what flows from that is federalism. And what flows from that is individual liberty. Giant philosophical conundrum solved. Everything else is haggling over price.

A direct quote from Not coach. Perfectly and succinctly put, and thank you.

This is the definition of conservative.

mountainaires on June 10, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Yes, very nice!

dominigan on June 10, 2013 at 8:04 AM

That worked so well for the 2012 election, didn’t it?

Gave us a second term of Obama. Yep. Great strategy.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Except that isn’t what happened. Rommey did not lose because conservatives failed to vote for him. He lost because the middle did not vote for him. And, nobody can claim he was a red-meat conservative that scared the middle. In fact, the entire selling point of Romney to conservatives was that he could win because he was “moderate” and could win the middle/independents.

Yet he couldn’t. We can argue about that all day whether it was because Romney didn’t truly offer a difference between himself and Obama, or because other conservative candidates scared the middle, or whether Romney wasn’t conservative enough, etc.

But, he did not lose due to conservatives failing to support him, just as McCain did not lose for that reason. Both lost because they were not able to get the mushy middle to vote for them.

Monkeytoe on June 10, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Btw, how does that brownie taste?

dominigan on June 10, 2013 at 8:03 AM

I don’t know; I’m not eating it. I didn’t vote for Obama overtly or de facto, by either not voting or voting for a third-party candidate.

Purists like you stuck us with the dog-eater. How does THAT taste going down, eh?

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Just because you jump every time you’re told doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than us. It means you follow orders, while we tend to think for ourselves.

dominigan on June 10, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Oh, and this? Is funny. Yes, it’s SO SCHMAHT to “think for yourself” when “thinking for yourself” means you get an American-hating Leftist in office. That’s some great brain work there, genius.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 8:19 AM

we need analyze is The Conservative Movement. What happened to it? Why has it declined/weakened? Why has it lost the dynamic it once had under Ronald Reagan? I believe we can thank the Bush Dynasty for its demise. And I include the Clinton era in that, as they were all “buds”. The rabid, unrestrained int’l free-trade mentality that has resulted in the diminishing of the once vibrant US middle class. (oh by-the-way, that’s where most of the voters are located, you anti-populists!). The Republican Party and, to some extent, the Movement Conservatives have allowed themselves to become the b_tch/wh_re of the US Chamber and corporate America who want to offshore our economy in order to take advantage of cheap, 3rd world slave labor. Leaving the US private sector worker high and dry. Question is, can it be fixed? I believe it can if right-of-center punditry (like hotair, et al) were willing to even discuss the issue. And the Tea Party – which has failed IMO. But few are willing to talk about it with the exception of Phyllis Schlafly, Laura Ingraham, Savage and a very few others. Its really sad how clueless our side is about this. Conservatism can thrive again if it wins at the polls. But the movement leaders need to be careful who they hang with.

Darvin Dowdy on June 10, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I read Josh Barro’s article. It is pretty clear he was never conservative and understands nothing about conservatism or what it is about.

Why we let these type of people – people who never were conservative and only think of conservatism in terms of straw-man arguments – have any credence whatsoever. He admits to no understanding of conservative thought when he claims that because conservatives don’t believe in redistribution they don’t want to lift the middle class up. What? He misses entirely the point about the creation of wealth lifting everyone up. He is starting from the liberal belief that the middle class can only become wealthier if the wealthy become poorer. That is because he only understands “conservatism” in terms of liberal straw-man cliches.

this isn’t a thoughtful argument by someone who understands conservatism and is making an argument for some new or different policy ideas within conservatism.

This is an article by someone throwing out straw-man “conservative” positions and then explaining how conservatives need to embrace liberalism.

In all seriousness, who does anyone that considers themselves a conservative read this tripe for any purpose?

He posits that “Labor” changed itself in England. That is a lie. Labor did what the DNC did here – which is to better hide its policy preferences in order to get elected and then it followed its same-old desires in taxing, spending and expanding gov’t.

Why conservatives give credence to anyone who claims to have any conservatism withing them (and in this case someone who claims never to have been a conservative) is beyond me.

If we are going to have a discussion about “what is conservatism” then let’s start with some basics, it doesn’t seem that hard to me:

1. Smaller gov’t (which implicitly acknowledges a belief in the free market).

2. Low taxes.

3. Low spending.

4. Less regulation.

For U.S. specific conservatism:

1. Federalism (this implicitly acknowledges states’ rights – that there are spheres the federal gov’t should have no power in but that the states do).

2. Following the constitution as written and intended by the founders (i.e., no “discovered” rights, no crazy interpretations, no interpreting the commerce clause to basically void the remainder of the constitution.

Those, to me, are first principles. Our arguments are not really about what is and is not conservatism – for the most part we agree with the big issues. Our arguments are about what conservative principles we have to give up in order to win elections (e.g., do we refrain from calling for the abolishment of the education department or social security?).

Every argument about “what conservatism is”* boils down to politics, not principles.

this guy’s article is trying to claim that conservatism is “no good” and doesn’t work and can’t win and we should abandon it and call something else conservatism. that’s juvenile thinking.

* I have left off the argument about social conservatism versus fiscal conservatism for another day. I think the vase majority of social and fiscal conservatives will agree to the foregoing, but social conservatives would add in another tenet or two regarding sanctity of life and values, but for coming up with something baseline, I think the above covers it.

Monkeytoe on June 10, 2013 at 9:01 AM

And, Matt Lewis is the opposite side of the coin brom Barro. He states that “Barro admittedly isn’t a conservative, but I suspect neither are many of his critics. Many of the folks who most loudly call themselves conservative are actually right-wing radicals.”

What? What does that mean? Who does he define thusly? People against amnesty? People for less spending? Less regulation?

Who exactly does he consider a “right wing radical”? My guess is that is anyone who disagrees with him from the right on any issue.

he gives as his definition of “conservatism” as “The essence of conservatism — from Burke to Hayek — is epistemological modesty — an awareness of how little we can know about ourselves, and how little we can plan. Because life is so complicated.”

That is not a definition of conservatism. That is a (partial) explanation of why conservatives don’t believe that gov’t can create the utopia on earth the left is always trying to create.

Lewis is not conservative any more than Barro is. Lewis is right of center, sure, but he is not conservative. Barro is left of center – which in British politics probably still leaves him as being considered to the “right”.

I’m sick of all of these people claiming to be conservatives who do nothing for conservatism except set it back with each idiotic thought they put forward.

Monkeytoe on June 10, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Purists like you stuck us with the dog-eater.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 10, 2013 at 8:17 AM

No. Tens of millions of people who don’t have the best interest of the country at heart, and had their votes bought with EBT cards and Obamaphones, and/or were racists, stuck us with Obama. And, they stuck us with Romney as a candidate, too. They have moved the political goalposts so far to the left that you almost can’t even put “conservative” on the field anymore. THEY are who put Obama in office.

GWB on June 10, 2013 at 9:26 AM

How about, instead of fighting over all the philosophical ins and outs, we just agree on where to start.

My proposal would be, budget, taxes, regulation, intrusiveness. Cut all that stuff. That should keep us busy for at least a decade. When we’ve got that taken care of, we can talk about other stuff.

Farmer_Joe on June 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Why do we need to rebrand conservatism now? The Republicans are already DNC-lite, lets see how that works, like a liberal will vote for some quasi-liberal instead of getting the real deal. If the RNC wants power, that’s pretty simple, just vote to spend five times more then the Dems on the minority group(s) du jour. Clearly a significant number of Republican politicians are too stupid to know that the numbers cannot possibly work – or they’re simply cowards, and won’t do a damn thing to stop the fiscal hemmoraging (and that means stop, not balance the budget in 50 years).

For the Conservatives, I’m pretty sure they’ll give you a pretty consistent definition of what Conservatism is: there is a right and a wrong, governments must balance their budgets, taxpayer money should not be wasted, foreigners can handle their own civil wars (and otherwise stay home), infanticide is wrong, the government should just fix the interstate highways and make sure the military is ready to go.

John_G on June 10, 2013 at 4:34 PM

@Grace_is_sufficient

It kills me that people like you have this odd idea that the Liberal “Republican” was going to do something different than the Liberal Democrat… and it’s twice as frustrating when Romney’s record of governance was out there in the wide open for anybody to see – meaning, he governed like a Democrat, to include providing the blueprint for Obamacare. But the likes of the NRO, Weekly Standard, Coulter and others bent over backwards trying to say that Romney would govern differently than he had, just because he “said so.”

Maybe a bunch of Republicans need to grow the hell up. Actions speak louder than words, always have, always will.

John_G on June 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM