Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Way Out of the Wilderness

Conservatives are embroiled in an identity dispute. Their time in the wilderness recently underway predictably and understandably has engendered a lot of "soul-searching", strategizing (to be definitely differentiated from "strategery") and house-cleaning. Michael Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, has used some revolutionary lingo (if you're not conservative, get out of the way), and proceeded to fire every current staff member.
Pragmatism being what it is, there will be some new marketable platform, complete with one-liners, and catch phrases.
Now, this is not necessarily a prediction, since certain signs of this have already become evident; it is simply what I believe will begin to emerge from conservative think tanks and punditry over the next two years or so.
Conservatism will be increasingly displaced by libertarianism. I have mentioned the love affair that conservative thinkers have with Ayn Rand and objectivism. Libertarianism is not technically objectivism, in fact, Rand made a point of distancing herself from the libertarians of her day. But the seduction of "individualism" binds them together ideologically. Rand's worldview is exactly opposite of socialism, which is what conservatives now are drawing up as the opposition. Objectivism has the added allure of seeming very American, very independent.
Conservatives as a whole have had something of an uneasy alliance with social conservatism.
Libertarians, as a whole, have no dog in the social hunt. This determination to "keep government out of the bedroom" is what will, I believe lead to greater popularity of libertarian ideas in conservative circles. Americans, for instance, may be more pro-life than pro-abortion, but the middle truth is they are more pro-choice. In other words, they may dislike the idea of abortion, but they would dislike more the idea of a total ban on abortions.
Libertarians, by and large, are very fiscally conservative and socially, morally disinterested.
Look for more creeping libertarianism from your favorite talk show or columnist.
I believe it is coming.


Mark M said...

Dinesh D'Souza has some good commentary on this topic in his book, Letters to a Young Conservative. See Letter 2.

Dee said...

That is a very good point about Libertarians--morally disinterested.
A "true conservative" would be the proper label for someone committed to the preservation of the moral fabric of which this country was made.
Then, we're free to discuss fiscal issues.