September 24, 2009

Right Ends?

I guess my question for Razib (and Heather) is, When in the past 25 years has the Republican Party ever made a non-left-wing argument, or championed a non-left-wing cause? Recently, not only have we been treated to Dubya?s ?democracy,? ?freedom,? and graduate-education-for-Afghan-women twaddle, but our beloved conservative “intellectuals” have instructed us that supporting the invasion Iraq meant you were symbolically backing the Left in the Spanish Civil War. Throughout the mid-decade, Republican immigration reformers would opine again and again that their concern over the 12-20 million Latinos residing illegally in the country had nothing to do with culture or demographics but only with the nation’s mythical devotion to ?laws.? I could go on? I?ll also add that this is hardly a phenomenon confined to ?moderate? Republicans. Indeed, the ?Religious Right? probably outdoes them all with its strained left-wing universalist happy-talk. (My favorite is the one about the need to outlaw abortion because it?s so ?racist.?)

As for “right ends,” about as right-wing as you get with the GOP is federalized marriage counseling. 

Obviously, I don?t think any Republican actually wanted to reform Social Security because the failure of the program would disparately impact African-Americans. Still, that Republicans so quickly make patronizing appeals to egalitarianism is indicative of the fact that the Left has decisively won the culture war?to the point that the Right doesn?t dare think outside the Left?s box, and is probably incapable of doing so anyway. 

One further note on the liberals. For every leftist in the world, socialized medicine is nothing less than a Holy Grail. Whenever you talk with a left-winger about politics, it?s only a matter of time, before he tells you how backward America is because it lacks ?universal? healthcare, yadayadayada. Thus, liberals are capable of making all sorts of arguments for why we need it: When the Dow?s up, they say, ?We?re a rich nation, we can afford it?; When the Dow?s down, they talk about how we need socialized medicine so we can become more competitive in the global marketplace or so we can reduce the deficit. It’s all ad hoc equivocation, and no one actually believes it. 

Still, I have noticed another kind of ?conservatism? that’s been cropping up among liberals, and one that I?d associate with Sam Tannenhaus, who?s become a media darling after his recent announcement of The Death of Conservatism. Tannenhaus?s ?Obama is a Burkean? argument basically hinges around the notion that all those conservative movement ideas about free-markets and reducing the state are craaazy, radical, and dangerous. In Tannenhaus’s mind, Obama is a source of social order since he?s rescuing capitalism and preserving the state. On a basic level, I think Tannenahus is right: Obama is a Burkean (of sorts) in that he very much is protecting the Establishment, the State, and the ruling order (read: bureaucrats, left-wing billionaires, Goldman Sachs, the legal community, et al.), which, we shouldn?t forget, is an essential, indispensable component of traditional conservatism. This is also why I’m not a conservative.

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