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How Should Conservatives Do More Than Conserve?

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24.09.2021

Bruce Abramson has a column at RealClearPolitics complaining that conservatives should focus less on conserving and resisting change, and more on going on offense to roll things back. As with many such arguments, the devil is in the details, and Abramson offers none. His column is interesting only because it is a generic example of a whole field of writing. Typically, it opens with a canned potshot at Bill Buckley that glosses over the complexity of the man’s approach to different situations over time. Then we get this:

Shouting “Stop!” is only a smart strategy when you’re ahead. It doesn’t help when you’re losing.

This is half-true. In politics, for example, it is true that just defending the status quo is fine when the status quo is itself good; when the status quo includes all manner of bad things, conservatives should seek to reform them, and do so by appealing to experience, tradition, and precedent when possible, trying wholly new things only when necessary. That said, I would like to have seen some acknowledgement here that, in politics in particular, conservatives are out of power nationally, and left-wing Democrats are, as we speak, trying to do dramatically bad things such as trillions in permanent spending. Maybe stopping those things should be our chief priority in 2021–22.

There’s precious little in contemporary American life worth conserving. There’s a tremendous amount to cherish, however, in this country’s grand traditions. What America needs today is a counterrevolutionary restoration.

There is plenty to complain about in contemporary American life, but when I read sentences like these, I have to wonder how much the writer even likes America or understands its past. Still, we could........

© National Review


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