Conservatives ain’t “conservative”

This article from the Atlantic does a good job of covering something that’s been on my mind as I try to puzzle through liberalism. The basic idea is that the modern “conservative” movement is not really conservative at all. Instead it is a radical movement, looking to overturn long-held beliefs and policies.

A couple of quick thoughts on this.

First, I’ve written before about how the policies and ideological obsessions of the modern conservative movement drove me in the last couple of years to become more political than I ever had been. I’ve begun to understand that what has motivated me isn’t some reaction to all things traditionally conservative, but a reaction to the dangerous, radical policies of these “conservatives.”

Second, what’s interesting about these modern “conservatives” is that they are essentially utopians. They believe there is some magical world out there, where all markets are free, where all taxes are flat, where all government has been eliminated except for the military, and where all people are Christians. Traditional conservatism has always been leery of utopian dreams. In fact, I think this is the single greatest contribution from the conservative tradition – a suspicion of human nature and human institutions and the ability of people to make the world “perfect”.


On that Christian thing, the conservative movement’s variation of “identity politics” continues to bedevil the Republican candidate.

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