Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Conservatives make poor fans

A sulky cloud has soiled Donald Trump’s first week as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party over Washington. Professional conservatives aren’t big fans. They’re “not ready” to lend their awesome intellectual reputations to his campaign for the Presidency of the United States. The un-reluctant warriors of American politics are reluctant.

Their lack of enthusiasm for The Donald may have no impact on the outcome of the election in November. But, it is, at least, conservative. Conservatives make lousy fans. Their heads are never in it.  Conservative Washington insider is an oxymoron. Speaker Ryan’s success—and his vision of a conservative president—is based on the debasement of conservative thinking. 

Let me explain.

In presidential elections, the mass market Republican Party competes with the mass market Democratic Party. In the United States of America, mass parties can’t be conservative; they are either good or bad liberals. And, hopefully, they will continue to be for another century.

America’s place in the world and Washington’s place in America are fixed. Beginning with the end of WW1 and ratified by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the United States has driven the creation of a needy, restless, egalitarian-talking—liberal—world and now, as its one superpower, it is obliged to keep it going.

Small countries like Canada can elect new brands as far apart as Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper. Few notice; fewer take offence. Their leaders can choose to tackle problems with comfortable solutions. The President, meanwhile, must sit behind his desk each morning, and eat shit, and leak to the New York Times that it smells oh so sweet.

Writing a conservative manifesto for the Cleveland Convention may save Paul Ryan’s sophomoric face. But it will have little to do with the conscience of careful Americans in November.

The voters will elect a president who will work inhumanly long hours on fixing, containing, stalling, and neglecting problems. Think tanks will hum out papers on “small government,” and the White House will govern.

The conservative temperament can ally itself with liberals in a hurry, liberals with outside interests, liberals raised on power, adaptable liberals, and adventurous or prudent liberals. That’s the menu.  

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