Friday, May 25, 2007

Rethinking Conservatism

This article by Gideon Rachman in the Washington Quarterly is an excellent and relatively short piece on where conservatives went wrong the last few years, and how they need to adapt.

The issue of American political realignment often dominates my ponderings, so there are too many ways I can go to comment on this. So I'll keep it to just a few.

Rachman quotes Gordon Brown as calling climate change "the world's biggest market failure," and that's about right. Anyone gets into trouble with dogma, and for conservatives, the dogma of free markets and no government regulation blinds them to reality. Such views made much more sense when Ronald Reagan took office with too-high taxation, American defeatism, and failed extreme liberal experiments the order of the day.

But conservatives weren't right because taxation or regulation are inherently wrong, but because they were out of control at the time. To a significant degree, conservative views have ameliorated those concerns, and the direction of focus must be adjusted to include practical environmentalism, a more secular approach to morality, and a return to fundamentals of good, efficient governing, among other things.

The Western political right has been moving in this direction essentially every place but America, and Rachman I think correctly identifies George W. Bush and American religiosity as probably the two main reasons. One way or another, whether through election of one of the four centrist Republicans that are favorites for the 2008 nomination, or via defeat, conservatives would profit greatly from realizing the need for change now rather than dragging it on for years as so often happens.

1 comment:

redbarb said...

This one is not only on the religious right within the Republican Party. The secular forces backing endless tax cuts, privatization and deregulation led by the Grover Norquists and Steve Forbes faction of the party push this much more than the religious right. W wasn't following his religious believes when he cut taxes while starting and fighting a war in Iraq, that was from the more corporate side of the current Republican Party.