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What is Conservatism?

This man is smarter than you.The debate among conservatives over what their movement stands for anymore continues. Summing it up perfectly (again) is the always excellent Andrew Sullivan:

It may be that turning conservatism into a religiously-centered Southern-based, big-government movement makes electoral sense. I doubt it. But my objection to it is not that it hinders Republican dominance, but that I disagree with it. I believe in a separation of church and state, balanced budgets, low taxes, law that is as neutral as possible between competing moral and religious claims, and a "leave-me-alone" presumption when it comes to government power. And I'm sick of being told that excludes me from being conservative any more. I venture to suggest I'm not the only one.

I don't believe in conservatism or neo-conservatism. I find them both to be stringent theories that too often fall flat when confronted with real-life examples (see Welfare Reform, Tort Reform, and Iraq...). But I sympathize with traditional conservatives who see their ideals trampled under the feet of theocratic bullies and pandering power brokers of the GOP. I think we're witnessing the early days of a split in the conservative movements that will be as deep and profound as when the Church of England broke from Rome in 1534. Ok, maybe not that profound...



I find that most (political) "-isms" fall flat once confronted with real-world challenges. Once one subscribes to an "-ism," one is tempted to reject all ideas that do not originate from or conform to that specific "-ism." One becomes intellectually isolated.

I've always been ok with "liberalism," properly defined.

(Thanks a lot for fucking up the good name of our founding heritage, "Goofballs" Limbaugh!)

More from Sullivan:
I don't think you can understand the actions of this administration - i.e. make them make internal sense - without understanding the depth of the president's fundamentalist mindset. He's a fundamentalist convert and an alcoholic. Faith is the one thing that rescued him from a life of chaos. So fundamentalist faith itself - regardless of its content - is integral to his entire worldview. And fundamentalism cannot question; it is not empirical; it is the antithesis of skepticism. Hence this allegedly "conservative" president attacking conservatism at its philosophical core: its commitment to freedom, to doubt, to constitutional process, to prudence, to limited government, balanced budgets and the rule of law. Faith is to the new conservatism is what ideology was to the old leftism: an unquestioned orthodoxy from which all policy flows.

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