Contra Mozilla

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Conservative Visions: Conservatism after Obama

I have read two articles of interest concerning conservatism and its fight against liberal progressiveness. The first--which I shall discuss here--was on The Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site, is is more or-less about the basics of what conservatives should attempt to do to reclaim America, post Obama. The second was on The Imaginative Conservative, and is about reclaiming conservatism from the libertarians (and frankly, from the Randian-objectivists), and I will possibly come back and discuss it later.

In the Public Discourse article, the author, Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute, suggests that we need to go beyond just enacting legislation or coopting current institutions and laws--that we need to articulate an actual vision of what an America fundamentally transformed by conservatism should like like:
Part of the conservative response will necessarily take the form of something many American conservatives love: policy. Given, however, the scale of modern liberalism’s advances, policy development just isn’t going to be enough. If conservatives are serious about up-ending some of the key assumptions driving American social, foreign, and economic policy since 2008, they need to go beyond framing legislation. Instead, they must seriously consider what a conservative fundamental transformation of America would look like...
In short, conservatives determined to roll back America’s steady slouch toward a progressivist dystopia must be more than just adept at cutting deals, devising legislation, or using social media (as important as such activities are). Without the forceful elucidation of principles that conservatives hold dear, it will be all too easy for conservative responses to the “Obama effect” to become exercises in damage control rather than establishing a full-spectrum conservative agenda as the new normal.
He suggests rooting this vision in the writing of Edmund Burke and Adam Smith--a good pair of choices, though they would need additional thinkers (Eric Voegelin, for example, or for a different emphasis someone like Fr. Schall) to further it.

There are some flaws to this piece, however. The biggest, most glaring flaw is that the transformation of America did not begin with President Obama, though this certainly accelerated things. In a sense, it began with the Fall, with the introduction of Original Sin, which ensures no perfect society can be built nor can a good one long stand. More recently, there are a number of trends which can be traced to times before President Obama, though some of them really started to come to a head during his administration.

The erosion of marriage is one large example. It began largely with the introduction of no-fault divorce and the widespread use of contraception, continued with the easy access to pornography and to the widespread "gentlemen's clubs," and has most recently foundered on the perilous shores of "gay marriage" and the now free-for-all attempts at redefining any semblance of marriage out of existence. The open hostility to religion is another example, and one can find it before the rule of Obama, though things have certainly gotten worse, since we now have gone from lacking adequate protections of religious liberties to the passage or laws (or declarations of edicts) which actively oppose some religious rights (among which I include the rights of conscience).

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