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The Future of Conservatism May Be Its Past

Reader comment on item: What Is the Future of Conservatism in the Wake of the 2012 Election?

Submitted by Sigmund (United States), Jan 6, 2013 at 15:12

I am old enough to remember Barry Goldwater, though too young to have been able to vote him. But I would have voted for Goldwater if I could have. At the time the Conservative movement seemed to be a breath of fresh air. Simply put, conservatism then stood for individual freedom as opposed to state control. Later on, I was old enough to vote for Reagan and I did so.

Unfortunately, what we call "conservatism" has become corrupted by anti-freedom forces even as it maintains some good qualities. Obviously there is no way to know for sure, but I would bet that if Goldwater could have been brought back to life he would today, with certain reservations, favor the Democrats over the Republicans. Probably Reagan would too.

Can you imagine Goldwater's or Reagan's reaction to statements about "legitimate rape" and "God wanted the baby [produced as the result of rape] to be born"? Both of them would have read the politicians who made that statement right out of the Republican party.There would have been none of the weak distancing etc. that the Romney and the present crop of Republican "leaders" showed. Those guys would have been gone.

I tried to remain an American conservative for quite a while. But it meant I had to swallow too much illogical and unscientific B.S.[and by B.S. I don't mean a college degree] I am still for individual freedom. I don't particular like quite a number of Obama's programs. But at least the Democrats harbor fewer absurd assaults on sanity, history, science and morality.

I would say to conservatives and would-be conservatives that this country will become increasingly liberal unless conservatives recognize a few truths. The following is just a partial list.

  1. Climate change is real, caused by human activity, and it is in the interests of free enterprise and capitalism to enact sufficient regulations to protect our environment.
  2. Abortion is one of the freedoms that woman should have. "Personhood" of a fetus is baloney which was never previously recognized by any mainstream group throughout history and which is not recognized by the Bible.
  3. Though the Protestant ethic and the mores of the Christian religion were key influences in the founding of this country, our Founding Fathers were not particularly religious in the modern sense. Many of them were deists and skeptics. Benjamin Franklin joked that instead of saying grace at meals it would be more efficient to pray over the whole "cask" of food when it was purchased. They were scarcely as religious as even Goldwater or Reagan, who weren't very religious at all.
  4. Our country has never been totally free enterprise. From the very beginning it has been recognized that the government can and should run some activities. What these activities might be varies according to current conditions. In Franklin's time the Post Office was a huge advance and it enabled our country's development. Today it may or may not be necessary at all and it already has been significantly downsized in comparison to private methods. In Franklin's day private medicine was the only way to go. Today this may not be true and government run facilities may well be a worthwhile part of the mix. None of our Founding Fathers thought of the government as an unproductive beast which only can redistribute money. So-called conservatives today are selling us a bogus bill of goods when they say such things.
  5. Though never envisioned by our Founding Fathers, gay rights represent an important new avenue of freedom which conservatives should embrace if they truly represent individual freedom.
  6. Making it difficult for immigrants to achieve legal credentialed status here is no part of conservatism. Reagan was right to grant an amnesty. He should have followed it up with way to enable people to come in and file for citizenship or permanent or defined-length status much more easily. We need younger workers.

Despite the above and a number of additional similar points, I still think that the drive for individual freedom is there buried rather deep in modern conservatism. I still want to be a modern conservative which I think is essentially the same as being a "Classical Liberal." But the freedom aspect, the true Conservatism or Classical Liberalism, is just covered up by all the special interest nonsense that has been attached to it. You don't have to support every nuance of what I am saying but I think that conservatives and would-be conservatives need to realize that they have got to modernize present day conservatism or it will get increasingly unattractive to Americans as time moves forward. Interestingly, modernizing it would be making it more similar to the conservatism of Barry Goldwater or, even better, what then was called the Liberalism of folks like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (46) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Republican not = conservative [81 words]Yosi DermanFeb 28, 2013 14:21203936
Alternative For Conservatives [25 words]Clifford IshiiJan 26, 2013 15:13202815
Denying Evil [169 words]Mike FranklinJan 19, 2013 16:49202674
ignorance prevails..... [61 words]TomJun 10, 2013 14:17202674
The sin of the despondency [60 words]BenJan 13, 2013 16:05202587
3Bleak Future for Conservatism [475 words]Ali BabaJan 12, 2013 00:48202573
2Proverbial foolishness at its best [415 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEJan 17, 2013 12:34202573
1Typical response of the Ultra-Conservative [628 words]Ali BabaJan 18, 2013 00:52202573
Amazing analysis [48 words]NickJan 19, 2013 06:04202573
Way to go Ali Baba!! Love it [64 words]NickJan 19, 2013 06:23202573
1Keep following the red bricked road [356 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEJan 19, 2013 19:07202573
Apologies [297 words]Ali BabaJan 19, 2013 21:42202573
Thanks Nick! [12 words]Ali BabaJan 21, 2013 04:17202573
1Funny thing about God [145 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEJan 22, 2013 17:13202573
Enough of your lame propaganda "Ali Baba" [528 words]ShishirMar 12, 2013 07:56202573
defining element of us political culture [197 words]mythJan 8, 2013 01:40202511
1The Future of Conservatism May Be Its Past [796 words]SigmundJan 6, 2013 15:12202465
2High marx [29 words]JoelJan 8, 2013 00:57202465
Good News [131 words]SigmundJan 9, 2013 07:32202465
Marx brothers [25 words]JoelJan 14, 2013 06:00202465
What is the future of Conservativism in the Wake of the 2012 Election. [170 words]AnneJan 6, 2013 08:24202448
Stupidity of the electorate [198 words]WillJan 7, 2013 02:34202448
1There would have been a difference in philosophies. response to Will [173 words]AnneJan 7, 2013 22:44202448
I agree, but... [147 words]WillJan 9, 2013 04:39202448
Changing philsophies from that of Big Government can do alot for the people. response to Will. [134 words]AnneJan 10, 2013 18:41202448
It's not just the culture... [150 words]HomefrontJan 5, 2013 19:30202437
Charles Johnson? [30 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
GabrielJan 5, 2013 13:05202434
Blog [6 words]GabrielJan 7, 2013 03:03202434
1A liberal's responds [286 words]Gunther SchiffJan 4, 2013 13:41202418
Partial Response to Gunther [204 words]Straight_Talk_LuigiJan 5, 2013 12:48202418
1Liberal La-la Land [312 words]WillJan 6, 2013 17:40202418
3Stop the liberals lying and destructive freight train ... [94 words]NuritGJan 4, 2013 03:04202404
The Cost of the American 2012 Election - And Was It Worth It? [678 words]M. ToveyJan 3, 2013 12:50202377
5It Wasn't About Conservatism [193 words]Gene TagliaJan 3, 2013 12:25202375
Election results [293 words]Straight_Talk_LuigiJan 5, 2013 12:38202375
And then some [221 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEJan 8, 2013 22:57202375
Culture versus Romney [66 words]Dennis SchneiderJan 3, 2013 11:55202372
yes, "politics is downstream from culture" - I wrote as much a few yrs ago: [585 words]MarkJan 3, 2013 11:41202370
6Government schools create liberals [278 words]SusanJan 3, 2013 10:37202366
But Wait Until These Same Children Become Adults And Get Out Into The "Real World" [48 words]AnneMJan 4, 2013 07:17202366
1the need of adulthood [250 words]Mary H. StewartJan 3, 2013 08:30202363
Conservatives optimistic, yes—but convincing? [59 words]WillJan 3, 2013 06:46202361
4Liberalism appeals to all the baser appetites [702 words]KeithJan 6, 2013 00:36202361
2A Centrist Catholic's Response to the truly dangerous Christofascists pretending to be "Conservatives" [1432 words]rob the guyJan 29, 2013 18:29202361
1Todays "Conservatives" are a contradictory mix of fearful and spiteful groups with competing agendas ... [1138 words]GWFeb 4, 2013 14:03202361
Further comments [158 words]GKFeb 5, 2013 10:56202361

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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