Goldberg: “Conservatism Is A Mess”

Ken AshfordRight Wing Punditry/IdiocyLeave a Comment

I almost never agree with NRO columnist Jonah Goldberg, but I think he’s absolutely spot-on in his assessment of the conservative wing of American politics (a wing to which he belongs).  A snippet:

Much of this chaos is attributable to the fact that this is a very flawed field, or at least one ill-suited for the times we’re in. If a camel is a horse designed by committee, then this year’s Republican field looks downright dromedarian. This slate of candidates has everything a conservative designer could want – foreign policy oomph, business acumen, Southern charm, Big Apple chutzpah, religious conviction, outsider zeal, even libertarian ardor – but all so poorly distributed. As National Review put it in its editorial endorsement of Romney (I am undecided, for the record): "Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything – all the traits, all the positions – we are looking for."

But conservatives should contemplate the possibility that the fault lies less in the stars – or the candidates – than in ourselves. Conservatism, quite simply, is a mess these days. Conservative attitudes are changing. Or, more accurately, the attitudes of people who call themselves conservatives are changing.


In other words, there’s a huge crowd of self-described conservatives standing around the Republican elephant shouting, "Do something!" But what they want the poor beast to do is very unclear. And it doesn’t take an expert in pachyderm psychology to know that if a mob shouts at an elephant long enough, the most likely result will be a mindless stampede – in this case, either to general election defeat or to disastrously unconservative policies, or both.

The traditional conservative believes that if you don’t have a good idea for what an elephant should be doing, the best course is to encourage it to do nothing at all. Alas, the chorus shouting, "Don’t just do something, stand there!" shrinks by the day.

(Emphasis mine)