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Will True Conservatives Stand Up?

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Posted on Mar 23, 2010
AP / Jose Luis Magana

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

Every nation needs an intelligent and constructive form of conservatism. The debate over the health care bill, which mercifully came to a close Sunday night, was not American conservatism’s finest hour.

In its current incarnation, conservatism has taken on an angry crankiness. It is caught up in a pseudo-populism that true conservatism should mistrust—what on Earth would Bill Buckley have made of “death panels”? The creed is caught up in a suspicion of all reform that conservatives of the Edmund Burke stripe have always warned against. Authentic conservatism is better than this.

Conservatives, of course, are rightly suspicious that when those on the left recommend a “proper” role for the right, they usually want a tame creed that doesn’t really challenge any of the progressive fundamentals.

Still, I have written over the years with respect and some real affection for conservatism and its writers and thinkers because I believe that conservatism challenges the progressive worldview in at least three indispensable ways.

First, conservatives are suspicious of innovation and therefore subject all grand plans to merciless interrogation. Their core question goes something like this: Maybe you think this new health (or education or environmental) plan is a great idea, Mr. Liberal, but will it really work? What are its unintended consequences? Can our governmental institutions carry it off? Not all progressive ideas pass the test. In the health care debate, conservatives were at their best when they shelved the demagoguery and asked practical, focused questions.

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Second, conservatives respect old things and old habits. They are not always right in this. Racial segregation and discrimination are good examples of “old ways” that were morally wrong. But an admiration for what the conservative writer Russell Kirk called “custom” and “convention” speaks to something deep in the human heart.

Our habits are the product of time, based on the slowly accumulated wisdom of our ancestors. That’s why tradition should not be discarded lightly. You don’t have to be a conservative to agree with Kirk that custom and convention “are checks both upon man’s anarchic impulse and upon the innovator’s lust for power.”

It’s worth remembering that not only did Hitler’s staunch opponents include the German left, but also, as the historian John Lukacs has insisted, conservative traditionalists horrified by the ways in which the Nazis were ripping apart German society and how they were treating other human beings.

Related to this is the third great contribution of conservatism: a suspicion of human nature and a belief that humans cannot be remolded like plastic. Conservatives see a fallen side of human nature usually described in terms of original sin. And when utopians propose to create a New Man or a New Woman, the conservative typically cries: Stop!

From generation to generation, human nature doesn’t really change. Efforts to alter it typically lead to totalitarian forms of political and social catastrophe.

A society that fails to keep these conservative warnings in mind is likely to run into trouble. Yet our current forms of conservatism seem thoroughly unconservative or, as Peter Viereck put it in the 1950s, “pseudo-conservative,” which is an ally of pseudo-populism.

It’s not just that the mob that gathered outside the Capitol to shout epithets at Democratic lawmakers before they voted on health care was disrespectful of the very norms that conservatism preaches. It’s also that utopianism, typically a danger on the left, now runs rampant on the right.

Many who call themselves conservatives propose to cast aside even government programs that have stood the test of time. They seem to imagine a world in which government withers away, a phrase that comes from Friedrich Engels, not Buckley. Or they tie themselves up in unruly contradictions, declaring simultaneously that they are dead-set against government-run health care and passionate defenders of Medicare.

And while modern conservatism has usually supported the market against the state, its oldest and most durable brand understood that the market was an imperfect instrument. True conservatives may give “two cheers for capitalism,” as Irving Kristol put it in the title of one of his books, but never three.

Perhaps I have just fallen into the very trap I warned against, seeking a conservatism that corrects, but doesn’t oppose, progressivism. But to my mind, conservatism has always made its greatest contribution as a corrective force that seeks to preserve the best of what we have. As our long and bitter health care debate winds to a close, might proponents of such a conservatism find an opening? Are they still there?

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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By Inherit The Wind, March 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

Jimmy1920,

While I agree with your ultimate conclusion, your facts are missing key elements.
1) The Populists of the late 19th Century.  They advocated farm price supports and inflationary silver rather than recessionary gold.  They were absorbed by the Democrats under the leadership of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, when the Grover Cleveland Northeastern Dems were replaced (and Cleveland lost re-nomination to Bryan).
2) Wilson actively pursued “Progressive” plans although he was a virulent racist and locked up dissidents.  His “League of Nations” was as progressive as you can get.
3) The Progressive/Conservative split in the GOP was never more evident than in 1912, when TR, left to form the Progressive Party that got more electoral votes than Taft’s GOP.
4) Southern Dems were schitzy as hell because they were anti-integration (ever if they didn’t believe in it) while actively pursuing other progressive policies.  Many were FDR fans and WELCOMED the TVA and similar projects. (In “The Fugitive”, Harrison Ford’s character jumps off the Fontana Dam, the tallest of the TVA dams—over 500’ tall.)

Johnson was a highly UNUSUAL Southern Democrat.  His personal experience as a young man working with very poor Black people shook him to the core and cast off COMPLETELY the Southern racism he had grown up with.  He WORSHIPED FDR and sought to imitate him as President (fairly successfully too). Viet Nam undid him (as it should). Otherwise he would have gone down as one of our greatest and most effective Presidents.

Your narrative is wrong, even though its conclusion is correct.

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By Jimmy1920, March 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

I would argue that the notion of “conservative” has changed over time.  Until the New Deal, the conservatives were the Democrats. 

The Democrats represented the Jim Crow South, displaced farmers, and others who were victimized and marginalized by the ‘Progress” of a newly industrialized society.

“Progressives” opposed slavery, regulated railroads, and fought against “Trusts”.  They tended to be Republicans.

For a brief period after the New Deal, conservatives were bit schizophrenic with some hiding out among Southern Democrats, and others hanging with Joe McCarthy in the Republican party.

But beginning with Nixon and his Southern strategy until GW Bush, Republicans have more and more become the party of greed and power, bereft of any vision for the country.

Mr. Dionne imagines a civilized world in which ideas are aired in the Federalist Papers or the Lincoln-Douglas debates.  He is what passes for a liberal at the Washington Post.  And that is sad. 
Only when voices from the Left gain some traction among the “masses”, will they be permitted access to more mainstream political discourse.  Progress is TruthDig

If a single payer health care system had been given an honest airing, then the charge that the current reform is a government takeover would be blatantly laughable, if not pathetic.

The sad part of political discourse today is not the absence of “true conservatives”.  It is that the center of political discourse has moved so far to the right that Mr. Dionne is regarded as a leftist. 
That center needs to be dragged to the left so that Mr. Dionne can become the “true conservative” he yearns for.
http://thehealthcaremaze.us

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By Dr. Peppa', March 25, 2010 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Old line conservatism had died with the New Deal, but it had gotten some serious blows from Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. As for William Buckley, he was assigned to produced a controlled right as much as the New Left was part of a controlled right. Many of the paleo conservatives noticed some oddities with the financings of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany by Wall Street types as well as the influence of the Rockefeller clan in internationalist schemes. If you knew about Buckley’s CIA connections you would know that his world view was starkly against ideas of strictly constructed conservatism. A spy agency with no accountability to Congress is inimical to old fashioned ideas about limited government. The whole early patriot movement grew from a combination of military types, conservative businessmen, and farmers who had caught wind of the globalization agenda back in the 1950’s. The military types were the first to find out as they were the closest to the national security state that hatched from the Harry Truman administration. In many ways Truman was not so different in personality from GW Bush. It all makes sense when you look at the unnecessary bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

As to Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR, they have all with good reason been called dictatorial. They had been excellent centralizers and rationalizers of vast systems of politics and commerce that had not known command operations. There were vast segments of American society that had not known politicization before their kind.

Lincoln had been known for wanting to subsidize the the growth of the railroad industry. His administration enforced a union upon the states that had been understood as voluntary. His administration was the first to impose an income tax. He had ordered the jailing of several Maryland Congressmen at the outbreak of the Civil War without habeas corpus or trial. The military had closed down two newspapers in New York for seditious writings.

Woodrow Wilson’s administration had instituted a price control board for interest rates, and the supply of money, which had been a function delegated to Congress in regards to minting money.

FDR had forced people to give up property for federal reserve script. Federal agents were also on hand to arrest businesses that did not set prices in accordance with the NRA.

Here are some quaint terms: freedom of contract, enumerated powers of government, states rights, freedom of speech during times of war, freedom from involuntary servitude, private property, rights of the minority, individualism, state sovereignty, allodial title, common law, the right to travel. All these ideas had been wiped out in 20th century America. And these are ideas of classical liberalism and old conservatism.

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By christian96, March 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Well, I did it!  I recorded Rev. “The Antichrist”
Beck earlier and just finished watching it.  Basically, he is what is called in Psychology an
“attention getter” or perhaps he has flipped out
and is totally mentally ill.  That’s a professional
opinion.  I am a counseling psychologist.  Whatever
his objectives in life he definitely should not be
exposed to the public, especially children.  Maybe
they think he is a re-incarnation of Red Skeleton.
Throw that one out the window.  Today’s children have
no idea who Red Skeleton is.  The positive message
out of this side-show is in a few years children
won’t know who Rev. Glenn “The Antichrist” Beck is
either.  Praise the Lord. Has anyone thought of
contacting the FCC about the programing on Fox?
Oh, forget the idea!  The leaders of the FCC are
probably owned by FOX!

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By christian96, March 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

WriterOnTheStorm and Nemesis2010——Thanks for
clarifying for me what millions of us already
suspected.  I am going to do something tonight I’ve
only done once.  I’m going to listen to Rev. Glenn
“the deceptive one” Beck.  I hate to miss something
as important as the NIT basketball tournament but
I’ll sacrifice.  I may just record it and listen to
it later if I can bring myself to listen to his
ranting for the Corporations for an hour.  Wish me
luck.  You know I’m taking on Satan himself!

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By Hammond Eggs, March 24, 2010 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

E.J. Dionne, as befits someone who writes for the right wing/neocon Warshington Post, keeps referring to reactionaries and fascists as “conservative”.  Glenn Beck is a fascist and the “intellectual” leader of the Brownshirt Movement inside the Republican party.  There is nothing “conservative” about these violent, stupid swine.

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By stcfarms, March 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

As long as the powers that be keep the morons divided into arbitrary groups
such as liberals, conservatives, socialists, greens et cetera they will have no
trouble staying in power. The morons have a common enemy yet spend all of
their time fighting each other. Until you clowns put aside your petty
differences and learn that your enemy is the government, bankers, lawyers,
the clergy and other bottom feeding scum you will continue to be victims.
Your leaders are all crooks, if you continue to support them you are all idiots.

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By nemesis2010, March 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Conservatism is a term for maintaining the status quo. In the U.S. “conservatism” is all about maintaining corporate profits, mercantilism, corporate monopoly and oligopoly, and the seats of power for the corporate stooges in the Congress, SCOTUS, and the Executive. It’s a system of “more for the status quo and less for the rest of us” and George Carlin had it nailed decades ago. Conservatism in the U.S. is AmeriCorp’s form of fascism. In Italy and Germany’s fascist regimes of the 20th century, corporations served government interests. In AmeriCorp’s fascist regime, the government is a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Corp.

Conservatives are NOT about free market economics or small, fiscally responsible government. No one does “redistribution of wealth” and increasing the size of government better than the republicans; it’s just that wealth and power are redistributed to the wealthiest 1%. 

Where those—like F.A. Hayek, etc.—who warn of the evils of “collectivism” get/got it wrong is in presenting the collectivist system as one run by a government entity with a dictatorial like leader modeled after those of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, or Stalin’s U.S.S.R. Corporate entities are in control of AmeriCorp’s fascist state. What’s more totalitarian than the corporate structure? It’s all about wealth and power accumulation.

The founders of the U.S. of A. understood humanity’s propensity for violence and fraud and instituted a system of checks and balances to limit it; a system that faced usurpation since its inception and which really no longer exists today in any practical form. Men do not seek a fair playing field; they seek the advantage.

” To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group.” F.A. Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom”

Jingoisms like “the free-market,” “free trade,” “fiscal responsibility,” “right-wing,” “moderate,” left-wing,” “progressive,” etc. are just part of the façade propagandized by MiniTrue –of which E.J. Dionne is a part. It is, after all, a corporate owned media.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 24, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

As comforting as Dionne’s fantasy Conservative might be to some, I humbly
suggest that putting a nostalgic glow on a mythical beast reveals a vapid
misconstruing of the political juggernaut and a shameful denial of the culture
war that has been waged upon the unwitting masses for generations.

I humbly suggest that it is not the right that has changed, but the left that is
beginning to get wise to the rhetorical slow poison dished out twenty four-
seven on our electronic opinion management devices.

When have Conservatives ever wanted to proceed with caution when it is
something that clearly benefits them? When have they blocked innovation
whenever it blackened their bottom line?

As to the third issue of suspicion of human nature, this is where Dionne gets it
diametrically wrong. Knowing their own natures as one of abject self-interest,
Conservatives cannot see any other possibility than to project this psychology
on the entire population. Thus we have game theory like the “prisoner’s
dilemma” spread like gospel through the halls of power. Edward Bernays, father
of the focus group, advocates for mass manipulation because the masses
“can’t be trusted”. Neoliberals abandon social justice because there is “no such
thing as the common good”.

All of these are projections of the worst of human nature, but NOT the entire
truth about human nature. To portray this as some kind of moral ballast that
rights the ship of society is sinister coming from the right. Coming from the
left, it’s ignorant, placating, and inexcusable.

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By christian96, March 24, 2010 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind—-Thank you for taking time to
explain some concepts to me.  People throw concepts
around like people knew what they are talking about.
I, especially, liked trying to distinguish between
“conservatism” and “authentic conservatism.”  Thanks
again.

AmiBlue—-I went back to sleep and am now wide awake
to express my “freedom of speech” rights.  If you
are a woman I’m sure you’ll love my following
recent comments to Kelly at Fox News.  Please keep
in mind that I just spent 9 days in the hospital
receiving heavy dosages of steroids to try to
improve my breathing.  Steroids tend to make you very
agressive as if I needed some chemical to make me
agressive.  Have a nice day!


I do want to commend Fox News for not being prejudiced.  At least they hire ignorant manipulative women as well as
men. They could at least hire one with bigger boobs though.  Who did you sleep with to get your job?  Say “hello” to
Glenn “Adolf” Beck for me.  Thanks.

Dr. Parker

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By Mr. Wonderful, March 24, 2010 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The real conservatives Dionne is discussing are what today are known as “moderate Republicans.”  To the extent that they remain Republicans they face the additional challenge of dealing with the fact that, at least for the past ten years, “Republican” has become synonymous with “liar.”

A conservative, if Republican, could step forward and declare that such-and-such a fact supporting a conservative position is true—and it could be true—but no one would, or should, believe them.  They’re the party that’s gibbered “wolf” for so long they’ve completely lost credibility.

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By PaPap, March 24, 2010 at 10:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is it that so called conservatives are generally opposed to environmental conservation?

Does E.J.D. when he says, “conservative
traditionalists horrified by the ways in which the Nazis were ripping apart German society and how they were treating other human beings.” does he mean good conservatives like Prescott Bush who made oodles of money working with Nazis?

“Conservatives see a fallen side of human nature usually described in terms of original sin.” There in lies one of the fatal flaws of conservatism. It’s mixing it’s fantastical Christian beliefs with politics that would govern all.

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By AmiBlue, March 24, 2010 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

christian96 - Go back to sleep.

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By Hulk2008, March 24, 2010 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

There are “conservatives” and then there are brick-throwing, hate-anybody-that’s-different paranoids.  Principled conservatives (e.g. Wm F Buckley) and principled liberals CAN discuss topics rationally.  But anyone who watched Buckley go after Gore Vidal during convention coverage years ago can attest that emotions rise to the surface in even the most cerebral, urbane humans. 

I am not a Biblical scholar; but I have read most of both Testaments several times.  I can say I could find NO places where God the Father or Jesus refused to heal the infirmed or demanded that a poor person pull themselves up by the bootstraps.  In fact, Jesus made a point of scolding the Apostles for seeking superior ranking:  He told them that one must serve all others to gain favor.  He backed that up by serving them individually; He repeatedly emphasized the futility of temporal wealth (e.g. story of the poor man Lazarus vs. the rich man).

I find this paradoxical in light of how many Tea Partiers and self-proclaimed conservatives also claim to be devout “christians”.

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By Mike789, March 24, 2010 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

Citing Gerard: “some idyllic era when the pioneers were “free” to exploit” speaks to the notion of Manifest Destiny.

We had exploited that expression of human aspiration in the Sixties with a concerted effort to gain a perspective of Earth as perceived from the Moon. It has taken decades to assimilate that perception and we’ve not gone easily to answer the fundamental onotologic questions it embodies. Indubitably, we live on a planet. No escaping it other than gaining footing on another nearby, sic. a barren rock.

Global warming believers and conservationists seem to address an inherent need for reponsible management which has biblical origins. On the other hand, “Globalization” without responsibility for the globe appears to legitimatize exploitation, though it may transform itself into a true force of progress for Earthlings in time. Struggle on…

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By Inherit The Wind, March 24, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Christian96:
Sounds as if you feel pretty terrible but at least are out of danger.

What E.J.D. is saying that Conservative means to resist change, to doubt it and to question it. It means to respect things the way they are.  As the Progressive (in the true sense of the word) looks to actively seek to make things better, willing to experiment and try stuff till he sees what works, the Conservative is the one asking:
Is it broken? If not, don’t fix it.
How do you know what you want to do will work?  What if it makes things worse?

Of course these are what Conservatives and Progressives are supposed to be.  Most self-described “Conservatives” are radical reactionaries, looking for extreme change to fit a pre-conceived idea. 

Most “Progressives” aren’t much different and, if TruthDig is a reasonable sampling, are merely old-line Socialists following whatever is today’s Socialist cant.

“Conservatives” call Liberals “Socialists” without having a clue as to the vast gap between them.  This because the Socialists (“Progressives”) detest the Liberals even more than the “Conservatives”.

But there aren’t any REAL Conservatives anymore, just as there aren’t many real Progressives either.

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By christian96, March 24, 2010 at 1:36 am Link to this comment

E. J. Dionne——It is 4 am.  I just awoke and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I just spent 9 days
in the hospital and my system is not back to normal
yet.  I’m use to a nurse’s aide awakening me every
4 hours to chech my blood pressure, temperature, and
blood sugar.  Since I’m up I decided to do a little
reading.  I just finished your piece and don’t have
the slightest idea what you said but on the other
hand I don’t usually have an idea what anyone from
The Washington Post says.  So you are in good(or bad)
company.  If you want people to understand what you
are talking about you might try being a little more
specific in defining terms like: 1(Conservatism),
2(Pseudo-populism, 3(Authentic conservatism,
4(Progressive fundamentals, etc. I think you get my
drift.  If you happen to be a friend of Glenn Beck’s
please inform him it only took me once of listening
to him to see through his lying, deceptive, manipulative, generalized, ramblings.  I’ve heard
from friends that he is now using “God” in his
ramblings.  Please inform him that using God’s name
in vain IS NOT CURSING!  It means using the name of
God to glorify your own VAIN lying, deceptive,
manipulative ramblings.

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By Your Name Here, March 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Glenn Beck is a cutout, a useful idiot.  He will serve his purpose and then die a laughingstock among those few who remember his name at all.

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By stcfarms, March 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

Americans live on stolen Indian land, invading other people’s countries is as
American as apple pie. If you really believe that invading other people’s
countries is wrong you could return to your homeland…


By Tobysgirl, March 23 at 4:13 pm #

I still know people whose lives are dominated by church and social groups;
they are narrow-minded and filled with secondhand ideas. Yes, they don’t
cause any trouble, if you consider it not causing any trouble to be gung-ho
about invading other people’s countries.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think I’ve seen a Conservative anywhere since William F. Buckley died and Sen. John Warner retired.

I’ve seen reactionaries, radical reactionaries, and out-right fascists all claiming the mantle of “Conservatism”, but no Conservatives.

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By gerard, March 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Not that it matters, because we can’t prove anything—but I think the reason Repugs are conservative isn’t because they benefit financially from conservative ideology (except for the very rich minority).  It’s more because they are living in the past—some idyllic era when the pioneers were “free” to exploit the wilderness for no good reason except expansion, and whoever could shoot straightest deserved whatever he could drag home and the Government was way off in Washington and couldn’t touch you. That notion was a big part of “free enterprise” that peaked in the 1890s and had to be put down, and now once again ...

Come to think of it, capitalistic enterprise doesn’t seem to work very well, because it wasn’t long after 1890 that we had 1929, and after that it took a war to pull us out of that.  Recognize anything similar today?

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By Jimnp72, March 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

What we are seeing is not conservatism, but oppositionalsim on the part of the
repugs.

Why? does fattening their already fat wallets have anything to do with it.

you betcha!

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By Smoove, March 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From my vantage point, I don’t see much difference between conservatives and progressives.

The “choice” comes down to which kind of big, bloated, and over-bearing federal government do I prefer: The “nanny state” of conservatives or the “mommy state” of progressives?

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By daniel celli, March 23, 2010 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

when yuo gays anderstand tha the extrem s are the same?. I grown up inArgentina, we are acostumed at that; Wake up americans.

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By myxzptlk, March 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Conservatives Mr. Dionne describes are a dying breed.  Few on the right these
days are principled, thinking conservatives.  What we have in their place are
dogmatic ideologues who are either skilled propagandists or shrieking
demagogues bent on silencing critics and poisoning the debate.

Principled Conservatives have become so scarce that it’s actually a pleasure for
this liberal to come across one in conversation.  There are many points of
agreement between rational people on the right and left, which our “all-in”
political and media cultures fight hard to diminish.

Our corrupt media are an inseparable part of the divisions in this country, IMO,
and until we fix that, reasonable people in all parts of the political spectrum will
continue to misunderstand and mistrust each other.

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By Tobysgirl, March 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

From what I’ve seen of custom and convention (I speak as a person who is fairly conventional outwardly), they are human substitutes for independent thinking, for becoming who you are, for knowing who you are. What disturbs people is that we have thrown off the conventions of 100 years ago when church and school dominated people’s community lives and we now live in a society where consumerism is the basis of custom and convention. Living where I do, I still know people whose lives are dominated by church and social groups; they are narrow-minded and filled with secondhand ideas. Yes, they don’t cause any trouble, if you consider it not causing any trouble to be gung-ho about invading other people’s countries.

I have not noticed that conservatives are particularly conservative. See, for example, the Christian right’s alliance with oil corporations to destroy the environment (bringing on the Armageddon they relish contemplating). All conservatism means on my local level is objecting to spending any money on human needs or the environment and full support for the military-prison-industrial complex.

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By AT, March 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To the obstructionists and jihadists of the GOP, you may want to heed the words of W. Bush: Step up or you may risk of becoming irrelevant.

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By Tobysgirl, March 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

From what I’ve seen of custom and convention (I speak as a person who is fairly conventional outwardly), they are human substitutes for independent thinking, for becoming who you are, for knowing who you are. What disturbs people is that we have thrown off the conventions of 100 years ago when church and school dominated people’s community lives and we now live in a society where consumerism is the basis of custom and convention. Living where I do, I still know people whose lives are dominated by church and social groups; they are narrow-minded and filled with secondhand ideas. Yes, they don’t cause any trouble, if you consider it not causing any trouble to be gung-ho about invading other people’s countries.

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By Big B, March 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

remember when conservatives were against wars of colonialism? When they believed that the free market should decide what product succeeds and what fails, without a bailout. (ok, they did believe in segregation and racism too)

Make no mistake, conservatives still believe in the utiopia of Reaganomics. They still think that all they have to do is deregulate, eliminate corporate taxes and use the military to open up new markets (and protect old ones)and in this magical land the corporations (the market) will provide and distribute all wealth in a fair and equitable manner based on the effort and value of the individual. Well, we have had 30 years of it now, hows that working out for us?

We have never had a truely Liberal government in the US. Isn’t it time we at least try? If we don’t we will be stuck in this same center/right, pro-business, conservative loop.

There was a scene in “the Simpson’s” years ago that best describes the downward spiral of dumbness that we have been in for decades. The alien Kodos had posed as a doppleganger of sorts for Bob Dole during the 1996 presidential campaign as part of a plot to take over the world (Kang was Bill Clinton) anyway, during a speech, Kodos (Dole) said these words, “The politics of failure have failed, it is time to make them work again!”

In a nutshell, that is the state of conservatism today.

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By gerard, March 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Dionne says:  “Our habits are the product of time, based on the slowly accumulated wisdom of our ancestors. That’s why tradition should not be discarded lightly. You don’t have to be a conservative to agree with Kirk that custom and convention “are checks both upon man’s anarchic impulse and upon the innovator’s lust for power.”

Parallel Universe says:  Our habits are more often useless formalities that prevent creative thinking.  That’s why traditions should be discarded when the need arises for better solutions to the same old problems. Traditions quite frequently are checks on man’s urge to find better ways of doing things. As to the “innovator’s lust for power,” more frequently the “Old Guard” are the ones who have the power and wish to maintain it in spite of innovations.

So much for generalities, Mr. Dionne.

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