By Andrew J. Bacevich,
The American Conservative, February 6, 2013
Does authentic American conservatism retain any
political viability in this country in the present age?
The conservative tradition consists of several complementary propositions:
– As human beings, our first responsibility lies in stewardship, preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value. …
– Conservatives, are skeptical of anything that smacks of utopianism. … Conservatives respect received wisdom. The passage of time does not automatically render irrelevant the dogmas to which our forebears paid heed.
– Conservatives take human relationships seriously and know that they require nurturing. .. Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault…
– Conservatives believe in Original Sin, by whatever name. They know, therefore, that the human species is inherently ornery and perverse. Hence, the imperative to train and educate young people in the norms governing civilized behavior.
– Conversely, conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. Although conservatives are not levelers, they believe that a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth offers the surest safeguard against Leviathan. A conservative’s America is a nation consisting of freeholders, not of plutocrats and proletarians.
– Finally, conservatives love and cherish their country. But they do not confuse country with state. They know that America is not its military… America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.
Stewardship, be skeptical and reject utopianism (messianism), be social, look at the devil in yourself, don’t be a plutocrat or a proletarian, love your country but distrust the state.
So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.
Chet Baker: Old Fashioned
Blossom Dearie: Old Fashioned
Instead, the new conservative agenda should emphasize the following:
– Protecting the environment from the ravages of human excess. Here most emphatically, the central theme of conservatism should be to conserve.
– Exposing the excesses of American militarism and the futility of the neo-imperialist impulses to which Washington has succumbed since the end of the Cold War. When it comes to foreign policy, the conservative position should promote modesty, realism, and self-sufficiency.
– Insisting upon the imperative of putting America’s fiscal house in order. … Conservatives should never cease proclaiming that trillion-dollar federal deficits are an abomination and a crime committed at the expense of future generations.
– Laying claim to the flagging cause of raising children to become responsible and morally centered adults. … The big problem here is not gay marriage but the collapse of heterosexual marriage as an enduring partnership… We know the result: an epidemic of children raised without fathers. … Promoting economic policies that make it possible to support a family on a single income offers at least the beginnings of a solution. Yes, just like in the 1950s.
– Preserving the independence of institutions that can check the untoward and ill-advised impulses of the state.
Conserve, so fight human excess, promote modesty and realism, restore fiscal order, give childeren fathers and mothers, support free independent people/institutions.
Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr. (born 1947) is a professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired career officer in the United States Army.
He is a former director of Boston University’s Center for International Relations (from 1998 to 2005), and author of several books, including The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005) and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008). He has been “a persistent, vocal critic of the US occupation of Iraq, calling the conflict a catastrophic failure.” In March 2007, he described George W. Bush’s endorsement of such “preventive wars” as “immoral, illicit, and imprudent.