“A conservative is not, by definition, a selfish or a stupid person; instead, he is a person who believes there is something in our life worth saving. "
Russell Kirk "The American Conservative"
Most of my life, the Republican Party has held positions I disagreed with, but could understand. Since 1976, the Republican Party has changed radically. Even Republican pundits realize that Ronald Reagan would have a difficult time in today’s Party. Has American conservatism lost it’s way? The Republican Party today is many things, but it is not conservative. Simply saying whatever the Republican leadership does is conservative is an 'anything goes' attitude that leads to extreme policies.
The Journal “American Conservative” posted an outstanding article about Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk, two of the original thinkers of American conservatism.
“Richard Weaver’s 1948 book, "Ideas Have Consequences" — one of the first classics of postwar conservative literature—was, he explained in its foreword, “a reaction to that war — to its immense destructiveness, to the strain it placed upon ethical principles, and to the tensions it left in place of the peace and order that were professedly sought.” A year later (Peter) Viereck published Conservatism Revisited, which gave the “New Conservatism” its name. But it was a work by another young scholar, four years hence, that would connect this philosophy with the popular imagination. That scholar was Russell Kirk, and his book was The Conservative Mind.”
Has American conservatism lost its way?
Here are some illuminating quotes from Russell Kirk -
“In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image.“
Setting an example to the world would mean having the healthiest, best educated citizens free to determine the course of their own lives. Radical Islamic states, authoritarian governments and other foreign ideologies could never compete with that example. Remaking the world in our image by force of arms is exactly contrary to conservative principles.
"Those great ends are more than economic and more than political. They involve human dignity, human personality, human happiness. “
The present day Republican party ignores this ideal. Disparaging people for their race, religion or sexual orientation only divide us.
“The just society requires sound leadership, different rewards for different abilities, and a sense of respect and duty. Variety and diversity are the characteristics of a high civilization. Uniformity and absolute equality are the death of all real vigor and freedom in existence.”
Sound leadership? Ignoring climate change that the Department of Defense says poses a threat? Presidential candidates that talk about ‘making the sand glow’? Deporting eleven million people? Killing the families of terrorists? Making a campaign issue of what bathroom to use? Many present day Republican candidates, from Presidential to local, fail this test. No influential people in the Democratic Party have ever argued for equality of outcomes. No one in the present day Republican Party has ever called for diversity and variety to be the basis of a high civilization. The Republican Party is increasingly the party of old white people. This is bad for the Party and worse for the country.
If you want a truly conservative Republican Party, there is only one way to change it. Refuse to vote for ideologues that abuse the name of the GOP and conservatism. Restore the two Party system.