Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The death of conservatism

Matt Yglesias continues his trend of making conservative-friendly predictions. He dismisses notions of the death of conservatism, which is correct but beside the point. The point is: will conservatism survive as it is presently constituted, or will it have to change dramatically in order to survive?

Yglesias doesn't really say, but I think it's obvious that some future philosophy that calls itself conservatism will eventually reign ascendant. I'm guessing that this will happen in about forty years--if you look at the last few ideological cycles, that is about the length of time these things last (1968 = the beginning of conservative dominance, 1932 = the beginning of liberal dominance). But 1928 conservatives and 1964 conservatives were different, as are conservatives these days. In the latter two periods, conservatives really wanted to kill the welfare state. These days, despite conservative bluster in this direction, the GOP has not really been willing to move in this direction. Case in point: Bush's privatization scheme for social security. It was killed largely because Republicans in Congress opposed it, and they opposed it because their constituents did. Conservatism has moved to the center on the welfare state (though it is anathema to actually admit this, as Mike Huckabee did). Similarly, conservatism used to be firmly isolationist (in 1928), but since then it's become hawkish. Doesn't really make much sense philosophically, as wars necessitate big government and government controls everything in wartime, but this assumes that small government is actually a goal of conservatism these days. I have yet to see evidence that it is.

So, around the 2040s, some form of conservatism will emerge if cyclic history is preserved. And, more likely than not, it will differ from past conservatism in that it will be more tolerant. There won't be any choice: the fastest-growing "faith" in America is atheism. If it comes to be 25-30% of the electorate, it will become too big for conservatives to ignore. Plus, Hispanic outreach will eventually be necessary as they'll become a bigger part of the population. And if, as people predict, the GOP decides to move into a more strident culture war-oriented direction, it will push lots of people in a socially liberal direction. Eventually, they'll have to clean up and appeal to these groups, among others. Predicting the future is impossible, but I think that the impact of minorities on our society has fundamentally changed the landscape of our politics, and the sooner the GOP realizes this, the better off they'll be.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.