There is a lot of quit in conservatives these days. From all the white flags of surrender being waived in Commentary Magazine’s symposium on the future of conservatism one could make a large, comfortable hammock from which to watch our society burn to cinders.
A distillation of what can be found in the symposium:
Don’t talk about marriage, you’re a bigot. Don’t talk about immigration — you’re a racist. Don’t talk to blacks or Mexicans — they’re racists. Don’t talk principle — worry about policy. Don’t talk policy — ours are outdated. Don’t talk about the welfare state — learn to manage it. Don’t raise your voice — you’ll seem unhinged. Don’t talk about freedom — it’s dangerous and you’ll be misunderstood. And don’t talk about drugs — unless you’ve got some you want to share.
Shut up, they explained.
Wait for the country to collapse — then voters will listen to us. Wait until we have more babies than leftists –than we won’t have to argue with them since we’ll outnumber them. Wait for a popular leader to rise — he’ll be able to speak for us.
Get younger. More hip. Less white. More green.
Brush your teeth. Wash behind your ears. Put that down — you don’t know where it’s been!
Ok. That last part was made up. And to be fair there were many, many excellent thoughts and ideas presented. It is worth the five bucks to read the whole thing as we say in the internet linking world.
Once upon a time conservatives were described (by a famously non-conservative writer) as people with, “…a sense of social and national responsibility which absorbs and sometimes overrides his loyalty to his class. The conservative believes in freedom under law for all and recognizes his obligation to make all citizens members of the community. He is a constitutionalist and therefore a libertarian and a pluralist…he is a believer in reciprocal obligations and social welfare.”
That isn’t the description of people or a movement that pulls down the portcullis to hide from/wait out a hostile culture because it lost an election.
Changing our message would be a concession that we are the villains of the Left’s imagination. Withholding our message would frame us as vulture ideologues waiting to rule over a dead nation. And joining the parade of faddish passions that march noisily through societies every generation would reveal us to not be conservatives at all — merely craven populists.
Conservatives revel in going against the tide. We relish pointing out the inconsistencies in liberal conventional wisdom. We believe in the dignity of the human being and we fight for the institutions that preserve it. Sitting out and shutting up may seem a good move for front running cranks but it is not an option for conservatives.
There are a lot fights to win in the coming days beginning with the debt ceiling.
Shake off the loss. It won’t be the last but it will be a lasting one if we cede the floor now to the low and mean in our politics.
Author Wendell Talley