Time to Rethink Conservatism

Interesting quote from Mark Morford on The San Francisco Chronicle’s website made me think about the sorry state of conservative thought in America.

The GOP, on the other hand, sucks hard from the teat of ignorant extremism, splashes gleefully in the shallow mud puddles of Sarah Palin’s battered grammar, draws much of its power from the worst the human spectacle has to offer. Simply put, the modern Republican Party would not exist without its army of high school dropouts drunk on Rush Limbaugh and sexual dread. It’s not difficult to imagine “Burn a Quran Day” becoming a new Texas state holiday.

Yes, it’s progressive demagoguery at its finest, but the meta-message for those of us disaffected conservatives should ring true. The GOP has gone from being what I would consider thoughtfully conservative (in the wilderness years of the late 1970s) to populist reactionary.

The only way to stop the polarization of the nation is for conservatives to begin taking the high ground again. That does not mean defending ideas that belong in the same historical dustbin as racial segregation, isolationism, and laissez-faire, nor does it mean defining a political movement by what one does not believe.

It does mean laying out a fabric of ideas that provoke thought, debate, and careful consideration that offer a way forward in the 21st Century, but that do not divorce themselves from the values laid forth in the founding documents.

There are many flavors of progress. The progressive side of the political spectrum has had a chance to advance theirs (although, I have to say in all fairness, they probably didn’t get a full chance, given that their agenda has been hijacked by a self-interested party apparatus.) It is now time for some more flowers to bloom, for a new school of thought to contend with the progressive vision.

And may the best vision win. But that can only happen when there is a didactic in the nation that rises above naked populism and political opportunism.

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