Monday, August 30, 2010

Send in the clowns

What happened to conservatism?

Conservatism used to the political home of ideas. We had the ideas that were solidly grounded in reality and logic. In contrast, liberals appealed to emotions in place of substantive positions. We won arguments even if we didn’t win elections. The leading liberal thinkers couldn’t hold a candle to the giants of conservatism.

Today? In place of William F. Buckley we have men like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Gone are the days of shredding an opponent’s argument while seated and in a calm voice with the scalpel of superior arguments. Now we have self-promotion disguised under the veneer of patriotism and silliness in place of substance. The loudest voice rather than the best argument wins.

With the coarsening of society, conservatism has adopted the methods of the Left by appealing to emotions. We have shouting Bill O’Reilly and crying Glenn Beck. We have the acerbic Ann Coulter and the over the top Sean Hannity. In place of substantive arguments about free markets and individual liberty we have protests against mosques in New York City and a quarter of voters who think President Obama is a Muslim. The rational, calm voices like Peggy Noonan and Thomas Sowell are drowned out by the showmen. Maybe Americans are just dumber these days and can’t handle the substantive, meaty discussions and these banal entertainers we call “conservatives” have filled in the intellectual void.

What happened to conservatism that the leading voices on the political right used to be the intellectual heavyweights but now have been replaced by grandstanding kingmakers? Where did we lose our way and replace thoughtful discussion with self-promotional rallies?
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