He supported this criminal administration because-look, freedom!
1 June 2007, 7:30 PM
George F. Will begins his Case for Conservatism in yesterday’s Washington Post (and many other papers this morning, I’m guessing) by saying “Conservatism's recovery of its intellectual equilibrium requires a confident explanation of why America has two parties and why the conservative one is preferable.” He then neglects to talk about why America has two parties, or why the conservative one is preferable. Or, for that matter, which the conservative one is.
Your Humble Blogger is not the first to note that his piece is curiously abstract, as if the parties are first drafts of papers for an Introduction to Political Philosophy. Conservatives favor freedom, he says, and Liberals favor equality, which is why Liberals like governments to mandate policies that make everyone equally dependent on the government. Or something. Be very wary of arguments that make simplistic divisions, and be particularly wary when the divisions attribute an attitude to the writer’s opponents that those opponents would not recognize.
But the point I wanted to make is that Mr. Will does a tricky thing. He begins, as I said, by mentioning the two major political parties in this country, and “why the conservative one is preferable”. He doesn’t mention the names of either party. He doesn’t talk about the records of the two parties. He doesn’t talk about the candidates the two parties are choosing for the presidency. No, he talks about conservatism and liberalism, freedom and equality.
Now, I think that it was clear in the last Presidential election, and it was certainly clear in the last Congressional election, that the more conservative of the two parties was the Democratic Party, and that the party more interested in preserving freedom, domestic and international, was the Democratic Party, and that the Republican Party had fallen under the leadership of a secretive cabal of crooks and incompetents, some of whom appeared to have a genuine interest in authoritarianism, but none of which have done very much to conserve and protect our inherited institutions, values, symbols, and rituals. Well, some of the symbols and rituals, but scarcely all of them, or the most important ones.
The argument about liberty and equality is one we have had here more than once, and it was the Gentle Reader once known as david who pointed out (if I remember correctly) that any government interested in equality of liberty will do good things for liberty generally, but that a government willing to sacrifice equality for liberty will have inequality of liberty, that is, more liberty for them then for others. And I think that’s a valid response to Mr. Will’s writing—but it’s irrelevant to the question he poses, of which party is preferable. “That is the kind of question presidential campaigns answer,” he says, as if both Party’s candidates hadn’t repudiated their Party’s platforms the last several cycles. Mr. Will is kind enough to distract us from the real point of the election: one of America’s two major Parties is in the hands of people who have repeatedly shown that they are bad at governing. As a blogger, YHB is happy to argue liberalism vs conservatism with pundits, but I think we all know, and I’m sure Mr. Will knows, that the question is irrelevant to our current predicament.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,