Some Thoughts on Conservatism

Jennifer Rubin has some.  For instance,

The old guard has become convinced that Reagan’s solutions to the problems of his time were the essence of conservatism—not simply conservative ideas appropriate for that era.


The Republican Party may survive, but only if its politicians, activists, donors and intellectuals rethink modern conservatism and find new issues to defend and new arguments with which to defend them.

There is nothing at all temporal about conservative values.  Nor is there need to “rethink modern conservatism—” which is simply a figment of her imagination—or to find “new issues to defend.”  Conservative principles of limited government, low taxes and government spending, and personal freedom and responsibility, which are the principles Reagan espoused (they were not “Reagan’s solutions” are timeless.  Rubin managed to pack two false premises into those remarks.

Then there’s this:

Even after Obama’s reelection, Reagan-era conservatives have scorned any challenge to the party’s status quo, conducting search-and-destroy missions against ideological deviations from the Reagan playbook.


After the top sliver of the Bush-era tax cuts expired, tax increases could not be part of a budget because, as we know, Republicans are opposed to taxes.  Same-sex marriage must be opposed, because Republicans defend “traditional marriage.”  And despite Reagan’s spearheading of immigration reform in 1986, Republicans have to oppose that, too, because theirs is the party of law and order.

These are Rubin’s straw men; it’s her responsibility to defend them, no one else’s.  Except the no more tax increases part: limited government—which demands shrinking the one we have—is, as noted above, a rather timeless Conservative principle.

…principles that voters had rejected in two national elections.

Really?  Voters voted them up in the last two elections in which I participated.  Conservatives made serious gains in Congress and in state legislatures and governor’s houses in both, and they lost fewer Congressional seats than normal in a Presidential election in the last one.  I’d say Conservatives are continuing to gain ground—on our timeless principles.

The rest of Rubin’s piece is just more of this.

Conservative principles of small, limited government, low taxes and tax rates, limited Federal spending, and an emphasis on personal freedom and responsibility—with that limited government as a last resort, not a first—are as valid today as they were in 1790.

Rubin is arguing from straw men and false premises.  As long as she insists on doing this, she isn’t just wrong, she’s irrelevant.

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