Just Read: What’s Killing Conservatism

In the current issue of the American Prospect, Carl T. Bogus reviews Sam Tanenhaus‘ new book, The Death of Conservatism.

Bogus begins by recounting a conference he attended four days after Barack Obama’s ascendance. Organized by the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the participants sought to figure out what’s next.

… although the intellectuals on the program seemed to take for granted that conservatism as we know it is dead, none of them ventured an opinion as to why it died, whether it deserved to die, or what was, or should be next.

Tanenhaus offers his postmortem: “the conservative movement finally imploded because, in its senescence, it abandoned the conservatism of Burke, who highly valued prudence and civil responsibility.”

Bogus disagrees however.

The modern conservative movement abandoned Burke at its inception. Its ideology has not changed. What changed was that the movement finally came into full power under George W. Bush. Its ideology has not changed. What changed was that the movement finally came into full power under George W. Bush. Its ideology was well-suited for political growth but incapable of governing. A movement disdainful of government believes it does not matter who heads the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A movement convinced it alone possesses the wisdom and virtue believes it patriotic to mislead Congress about reasons for taking a nation to war. And once in power, when decisions have consequences, a movement that cherishes ideology so much that it will adjust facts to fit philosophy, rather than vice versa, will eventually find reality impinge with volcanic-like force – and be buried in the ash.

Apparently, current conservative “leaders” are more than happy to continue the conflagration and bury their own party deeper in the ash.

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