Conservatism has always been the intellectually defensible position. When you set aside the rhetoric and the emotional appeals, conservatism just makes more sense than liberalism. Practically liberalism doesn’t work and logically it doesn’t make sense. So why is it that conservatism finds itself on the ropes in 2009? The problem is not with conservative principles. Small government, free markets, individual liberty and responsibility, strong national defense. Those are all as valid today as at any point in history. The problem is with the advocates and the audience.
- First, we live in a day and age when the loudest voice wins. The calm, cool rational arguments of a William Buckley don’t resonate with a crowd that thrives on text messages and Twitter. Arguments that take more than a minute or two to explain are unappealing, far too mentally taxing and ultimately unpersuasive in this day and age.
- Second, most Americans are unable to think critically and so are unable to make a coherent decision based on the facts. American’s short attention spans mean that the average American is more likely to believe what they are told in a sound byte by a celebrity than they are in a carefully crafted and thought out argument from a conservative they have never heard of and probably find boring.
- Third, the leaders of American conservatism in the political arena have lost their way. As I have remarked before, it comes across as disingenuous that Republican leaders who spent like drunken sailors on earmarks and pet projects over the last few years are now claiming the mantle of fiscal responsibility. What is needed is a new, young cadre of conservative leaders who are relatively unstained by the ugly legacy of the last Congress. I think those leaders are starting to emerge and be heard.
What we are left with is America in 2009. A ridiculous, indefensible set of policies that are dooming America to economic stagnation and the deterioration of the position of America in the world. The President has made clear that he rejects the idea of American exceptionalism. We are just one country among the many in the world, little different from Belgium or Bolivia. What does set us apart: free markets, a peerless military is being quickly dismantled with unilateral disarmament, spineless foreign policy and neo-socialist economic policies. President Obama seems bent on apologizing his way around the world, and frankly I am not interested in being apologized for by an unqualified winner of a popularity contest.
As our schools pump out worker drones suited for low level service industry jobs, the American ideals of hard work, liberty and pride in country are replaced by narcissism, disinterest and fear. The sound, proven tenets of conservatism fall on deaf ears in a society that has been conditioned to be unable to think. It is little wonder we have the government we do.