Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fat, Dumb, Happy Conservatism?

Ten years ago (or so) RETyrrell wrote "The Conservative Crack-Up" to the chagrin of his conservative friends. He's not the only one who is concerned:

"Austin's basic point is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, modern American Conservatism suffers from intellectual atrophy. Frankly, I tend to agree.

This is no small statement today. For years conservatives, especially those in think tanks, have celebrated the Right's victory in the war of ideas. No doubt the Right has come a long way from the days when Galbraith could credibly state that Conservatism was "bookless." The second half of the Twentieth Century saw the unfettered victory of the Right over the visions of the Liberals.

But the victories of small-government Conservatism ended in late 1994, and the last decade has seen the rise of "National Greatness Republicanism," "Big-Government Conservatism," or whatever else you'd like to call the policies of the Bush Adminsitration. (And I intend no disparagement in my choice of those terms -- I find a lot of President Bush's national policies quite exciting and compelling if not "conservative" in a small-government sense.)

I began to wonder if the "Republicans won the war of ideas" era peaked this spring when Martin Peretz, editor of The New Republic, embraced that message in his own column. Austin's new article highlights many of my own concerns.

Austin suggests that history may be repeating itself: just as the Liberal Left grew fat, happy, and ultimately helpless following two decades of victories, the Conservative Right has grown self-satisfied and atrophied following two terms of Reagan and two terms of Bush (with twelve years of Liberal Republican/New Democrat consensus in between).

It's interesting to note that PJBuchanan, like GWBush and many others, are "Big Gummint Conservatives;" --which to me (and the Southern Appeal author quoted above) is an oxymoron.

At any rate, The American Conservative (8/29) published the essay, not available online. Probably worth a purchase and read.

HT: Southern Appeal:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel much of the problem doesn't fall on the shoulders of the "fatcat" conservatives but on the states and constituents. Too long have we let big government expand while we begged for more and more federal subsidies. Many states strive off federal funding and as the SC-7 begins to create law from interpretation, we let it happen.
I also blame the divide between liberals and conservatives. Republicans are too busy trying to keep their seats and power not noticing that our own Federalism is decaying towards a more nationalistic approach. A prime example comes from the new highway project that just passed. One of the front-runners of the project was a limp-wristed Republican from Alaska, begging for more money to connect tiny towns in the Alaskan expanse. Instead of using the standard ferry (privately-owned), they are building a golden gate replica to connect two towns with a combined population of less than 5000. Our tax dollars at work. Big government enveloping both business and pleasure. I can't wait to get my national ID card and bar code!!!

By no means do I blame W.