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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Conservatism Is Dead: Long Live Conservatism?

"I'm a revolutionary.

"I don't want to preserve the status quo, I want to overthrow it. I want to pull the statist weeds up by the roots and burn them in freedom's fire, just like our Founding Fathers did. Do you think they were conservatives? Conservatives don't start revolutions; they simply make sure their shackles are made no heavier.

"Political victory rests on cultural victory, and changing the culture starts with changing our mentality. We have only two choices: We can be revolutionary.

"Or we can be wrong."

by Selwyn Duke

It seems like just yesterday that many were reading liberalism's epitaph. After the Reagan years, Republican Revolution of 1994, retreat of the gun-control hordes after Al Gore's 2000 defeat and George W. Bush's two successful presidential runs, many thought conservatism was carrying the day.

Ah, if only.

We might ask: With conservatives like President Bush and many of the other Republicans, who needs liberals?

While the media has successfully portrayed the Republicans as the party of snake handlers and moonshine, the difference between image and reality is profound. Bush has just spun the odometer, proposing the nation's first ever $3 trillion budget. On matters pertaining to the very survival of our culture - the primacy of English, multiculturalism, the denuding of our public square of historically present Christian symbols and sentiments - Republicans are found wanting. As for illegal immigration, both the president and presumptive Republican nominee support a form of amnesty.

Yet many would paint America as under the sway of rightist politics, and some of the reasons for this are obvious. Some liberals know that the best way to ensure constant movement toward the left is by portraying the status quo as dangerously far right. If you repeatedly warn that we teeter on the brink of rightist hegemony, people will assume that to achieve "balance" we must tack further left toward your mythical center. Then we have conservatives influenced by the natural desire to view the world as the happy place they'd like to inhabit. Ingenuous sorts, they confuse Republican with conservative, party with principles, and electoral wars with the cultural one. But there's another factor: One can confuse conservative with correct.

When is the right not right, you ask? When it has been defined by the left.

The definition of "conservative" is fluid, changing from time to time and place to place. Some "conservatives" embrace an ideology prescribing limited government - one remaining within the boundaries established by the Constitution - and low taxation. They favor nationalism over internationalism; prefer markets mostly unfettered by regulation; eschew multiculturalism, feminism and radical environmentalism; and take pride in our history and traditions.

But there have been other kinds of conservatives. In the Soviet Union, a conservative was quite the opposite, a communist. Then, when Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002, BBC News ran the headline, "Dutch far-right leader shot dead." "Far-right" indeed. Fortuyn was quite liberal by our standards; he was a pro-abortion, openly-homosexual ex-sociology professor branded a rightist mainly because he wished to stem Moslem immigration into Holland. Moreover, his fear was that zealous Moslems posed a threat to the nation's liberal social structure.

So here's the question: What definition of conservative would...


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