The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society
The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike.
In that same essay, F. A. Hayek also made this observation:
Connected with the conservative distrust [o]f the new and the strange is its hostility to internationalism and its proneness to a strident nationalism. Here is another source of its weakness in the struggle of ideas. It cannot alter the fact that the ideas which are changing our civilization respect no boundaries. But refusal to acquaint one’s self with new ideas merely deprives one of the power of effectively countering them when necessary.
SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDES
Cultural changes in just the past few years, such as a greater acceptance of same-sex marriages and conservative resistance to the concept, emphasizes the “weakness” Hayek spoke of. They can oppose, object, deny, and obstruct, but contributing to more meaningful, balanced, and forward-thinking policy eludes them all too often. Locked into their rigid mindset of limited/no government coupled with the conservative inclination to fear change and its corresponding need for black/white or yes/no decision-making, the extremist conservative has nothing to offer save for more opposition, objection, denial, and obstruction.
Do they ever contemplate how events will unfold notwithstanding their resistance? Why is more conflict an acceptable alternative rather than offering their own perspectives and then seeking a place in the broad middle?
Or, should their opposition succeed as it has in too many instances during President Obama’s years in office, are they even capable of appreciating how the short-term “victories” achieved will then play out in the years to come? What predisposed them to think that those less than enamored with their tactics will one day just throw up their hands and concede?
OPPOSITION HAS A PRICE
The more resistance the conservative is to offering contributions as change evolves and challenges become that much more complex, the more resistant will progressives be in denying the Right any opportunities to advance their narrow-minded pursuits. How much do we all lose by fighting meaningless skirmishes while making problems so much worse for more of us in the years to come?
Since when has “my way or else” been the operative norm for every relationship and negotiation—personal, commercial, or political? Are these extremists so fearful of even the hint of a suggestion that their rigid, narrow-minded, and shortsighted perspectives are … well, rigid, narrow-minded, and shortsighted that they will run the risk of gaining nothing at all rather than some acceptable compromise? Live to fight another day has no meaning at all? Seriously?
Win or else—today—is now the battle plan! To what end? At some point, gratification that one has held firm to an ideological principle (all but irrelevant to everyone in the real world) would seemingly lose its appeal.
No-government conservatives take their inspiration from Grover Norquist’s famous quote that government should be shrunk to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. These Republicans, who make up most of the House and a healthy portion of the Senate, are on an uncompromising mission to abolish most government services, benefits, regulations, and taxes.
The goals of no-government conservatives are not primarily economic. They will propose more tax cuts in times of surplus and times of deficit….No-government conservatives are not compelled by the evidence that temporary benefits such as food stamps and unemployment insurance put money in the pockets of those most likely to spend it at local businesses that will grow and create jobs as a result. Their only jobs agenda, their only growth agenda, their only deficit agenda is eliminating government, no matter how many people it helps or how big a boost it provides the economy.
Nor are the goals of no-government conservatives primarily political…..They realize that rampant hostage-taking and filibuster-abuse are the chief contributors to the obstruction and gridlock that Americans of both parties hate.
They just don’t care….Their fundamental philosophy is purely ideological—the idea that since government can’t do everything, it should do nothing. So as long as the public continues to see Washington as a dysfunctional circus of petty children, the conservative philosophy of government is vindicated.
What would happen if compromise and fair (blackmail-free) negotiations were restored as guiding principles of policy debate instead? What if the no-government faction understood that these efforts were not promoting American exceptionalism as our history has come to define it, but were instead destroying the foundation upon which this ideal had proven itself to be worthy of admiration and appeal?
As Jon Favreau noted in that same article quoted above:
The traditional small-government conservatives … have a rough acquaintance with the rules of politics and basic math. They may want to reduce the size of government further, but they also want to preserve the institutions of government, understanding that a functional democracy is necessary to provide for the common defense, promote a common prosperity, and tackle problems we can only solve together, as a nation.
Destroying democracy just because has consequences, and the ideology sponsoring opposition and obstruction offers no protection against those consequences to/for its supporters.
~ My Photo: Rockport, MA – 09.16.16 ©
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
~ ~ ~
As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?