Over at the The American Conservative Alan Jacobs asks a somewhat rhetorical question: is he a conservative? He makes the claim the he doesn’t know and doesn’t really care but goes on to offer some data so to speak.
I am not and never have been a Republican. I feel roughly as alienated from that party as I do from the Democratic Party. I hold a number of political views that strong-minded Republicans typically find appalling: I think racism is one of the greatest problems in American society today; I am not convinced that austerity programs are helpful in addressing our economic condition; I am absolutely convinced that what many Republicans call free-market capitalism is in fact crony capitalism, calculated to favor the extremely wealthy and immensely powerful multinational corporations; I think that for all of the flaws of Obamacare, it was at least an attempt to solve a drastically unjust and often morally corrupt network of medical care in this country; I dislike military adventurism, and believe that our various attempts at nation-building over the past decade were miscalculated from the outset.
But Jacobs goes on to lay out his “three overarching political commitments” that I believe count for far more that the above caveats:
- “The first is that I strive to be a consistently pro-life Christian.”
- “My second steady commitment is to the principle of subsidiarity.”
- “My third leading political conviction is that the wisdom of our ancestors is both deeply valuable and tragically neglected.”
I will let you read the paragraph descriptions of the above commitments for yourself but I think those three are deeply conservative and still very much relevant to today’s politics.
The problem is that conservatism is less and less defined by philosophical commitments and more and more by short term political and specific policy commitments. The typical triptych for modern conservative Republicans is limited government, “family values”, and a strong national defense. This usually means low taxes, less regulation and America as the lone super power and an activist one.