Attention Rushies and Beckies

You may not be as conservative as ye think. Darryl Hart’s latest is, of course, good for an expanded commentary on what it means to be conservative in America. But for those looking for a more succinct but no less provocative way to navigate what it means–and doesn’t mean–to be conservative in America, there is Mark Mitchell at the Front Porch Republic

Let’s begin with a short quiz.

Question 1. Do you speak, think, and act more naturally in terms of individual rights or in terms of duties and responsibilities?

Question 2. Do you have duties to the past? To those who are no longer alive? To those yet to be born? Yes or No.

Question 3. Humans are progressively getting better technically, socially, politically, morally. If this is not true, it is only due to the bad will of some. True or False.

Question 4. America is the last best hope of the world. True or False.

…Now let’s reflect on some of this. It seems that those who call themselves conservatives and liberals today by and large emphasize their rights rather than duties; they show precious little concern for the past, both as a repository for knowledge or as a source of duties; and they tend to speak in the glowing terms of progress. Finally, they all too often lack the humility that the conservative feels deep in his bones. The conservative knows that all good things are at root a gift. This disposition of gratitude fosters humility, and humility is necessary if we are to live responsibly, for humility acknowledges limits and a denial of limits is a key feature of the liberal mind.

When we consider all of this in light of our current political climate, it becomes clear that the apparent differences between conservatives and liberals in America today are far less dramatic than we are often tempted to believe. What we have is a variety of liberals, some more radical than others, but a truly conservative position is illusive and, what is more important, probably not desired by most of the electorate; although, there is always a remnant, and this remnant, I believe, would grow if a truly conservative alternative was articulated in a clear and compelling way. Of course, Rush Limbaugh and the folks at Fox News—those standard bearers of “conservatism”—will find this analysis implausible, for their deepest commitments are to the very things that are antithetical to a legitimate and historically informed conservatism. Nevertheless, any attempt to continue using this fine word should include a conscious effort to resist abusing it for the purpose of political gain. It is, after all, a word worth conserving.

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5 Responses to Attention Rushies and Beckies

  1. Pooka says:

    Shortly after committing to the ranks of the Reformed folk, I lost my bearings. Thought I’d be confirmed in my conservativism. Then thought maybe I was actually a liberal, just not knowing it. Now I’m lost in the whole mess. I’d answer the questions 1. b 2. yes 3. false 4. FALSE but that doesn’t clear the mud for me at all.
    Honestly, I don’t trust myself with either side. One thing I’ve learned is that I ain’t got no rights. All I got is a few chances to try what I think is right, but lose them soon as I blow it enough times. All that is just what this post made me think of, not necessarily your actual point…
    Here’s what stood out most in the article; and I buy it:

    The conservative recognizes the theological danger of confusing the State for the Church, and he also sees the political danger, for baptizing the nation undercuts any ability to criticize its actions. “My county, right or wrong” is not the cry of the patriot but the chant of the idolater.”

  2. Zrim says:

    Pooka, I’m not sure thumbnails are meant to bring absolute clarity. But with answers like those, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be saying “conservativism” anymore.

  3. RubeRad says:

    Wait, I thought all of Pookas answers there were the right (i.e. actually conservative) answers.

  4. Zrim says:

    Correct, which is why he should say “conservatism” and not “conservativism.” The latter is to being conservative what “eeeevangelical” is to being Protestant. It’s briefly explained here.

  5. Pooka says:

    Heh. Guess I don’t like the label thing. You’re right, of course. Probably should be a conservative, not a conservativist. But I used to be an evangellyfish. That was fun for a while.

    Off to the ship. Won’t have time to read any more of this for a few months. I’ll miss all this stuff.

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