30 June 2003
Save it for me
The very word "conservative" implies that something is to be conserved, to be kept "in a safe or sound state" (Webster's New Collegiate, 8th edition, 1981). Which begs the question: what, precisely, do conservatives conserve?
Craig Ceely doesn't know for sure, but he knows this much: it sure as hell isn't the Bill of Rights.
Posted at 9:12 PM to Political Science Fiction
Well, Charles, though there's a lot of truth in Craig's roundup, I must point out that to treat conservatives monolithically is rather unfair.
Thomas Sowell has pointed out several times, in several books, that the only thing "conservative" (American usage) means in practical terms is "not liberal" (American usage). There are monarchists and minarchists among us. There are protectionists and free marketeers. There are theocrats and libertarians. Our sole reliable commonality is that we're over here, not over there.
Part of my particular mission is to make conservatives look to conserve the American Revolution's goals of individual liberty, free markets, Constitutional government, and a minimum State. I have an opposite number out there, somewhere in the conservative community, of course. This person must be found and killed.
There aren't all that many monoliths out there, and most of them are probably pretty small you start allowing in lots of people and suddenly you've got this, um, diversity thing going.
(This is, incidentally, the polar opposite of the current political definition of "diversity", which requires the restriction of certain individuals not meeting a specified criterion.)
And I won't go into the hijacking of the word "liberal" by individuals who, often as not, are anything but.
Many of the things he lists as offences against the Constitution were objected to by many conservatives, and pushed through by many liberals. My favorite is the way he complains about being forced to pay taxes -- and blames the existence of taxes on conservatives! He bitches about campaign finance reform since it's champion, John McCain, is a Republican -- completely disregarding the fact that many Republicans (which is used interchangeably with conservative here) were against campaign finance reform (and were villified for their stance as being in favor of corruption and the influence of "big money" on government) and many Democrats (ie, liberals) were in favor of it (because it made them look like Crusaders for the People™). He cites one line from a William F. Buckley book, because Buckley happens to mention the Constitution; but the line has absolutely no bearing on his -- I'd say argument, but that's not what his diatribe is, it doesn't have enough substance to be an argument.
Saints preserve us against Crusaders for the People.
I've got my own issues with Mr Ceely's list, but I still think that as ranty rants go, it's rantacular, which is why I gave it the link in the first place.
Eh, I wasn't so impressed. Maybe it's the pretention "Anger of Compassion," oh, please ... and the displayed ignorance. He cites Buckley as an example of one of the Eville Conservatives, but seems to not know that the National Review, the magazine Buckley heads, has been openly against the War on Drugs for years. (The War on Drugs is cited as one of the "conservative" attacks on the Bill of Rights.)
Which is a peculiar notion in itself: your garden-variety liberals aren't any more interested in abandoning the War On (Some) Drugs than the disciples of Ashcroft.
And maybe it's just me, but I'm more amused than disturbed by pretentiousness at this particular level; he had this one story just bursting from him, like one of Ripley's aliens, and he wasn't about to change a word. I've written stuff like that and survived somehow.
And a curiosity to note: Mr Ceely has drawn no comments on his own blog regarding this post.
I though of commenting there, but a haze of weariness came over me. I've gotten into those battles with a True Believer before. And I just wasn't in the mood for yet another "You stink!" "No, you stink!" fun fest.
There's something profoundly de-inspiring about people who pose a question slathered in pointless etymological pedantry and are obviously convinced they've singlehandedly put an end to any and all legitimacy for the opposing view.
Those of us who are accustomed to college-level dialog tend not to find such kindergarten-level tactics all that entertaining.
Jeebus. Were it not for pointless etymological pedantry, my site would be half its present size and would have even fewer readers. (I'm told this is mathematically possible.)