Clarity on conservatism

Early this year, I read this remark from occasionally interesting neocon David Frum:

“Conservatives will always be with us. If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”

It has stuck with me, since, mainly for the implication which he goes on to make explicit: “The stability of American society depends on conservatives’ ability to find a way forward from the Trump dead end, toward a conservatism that cannot only win elections but also govern responsibly…”

That’s very persuasive, and very troubling since so-called conservatives seem to be packing themselves into that dead end, gleefully elevating “owning the libs” over governing responsibly.

This morning, though, I had a moment of clarity: no.

Conservatives may always be with us. But if they reject democracy, then they become illegitimate. Odds are very good that, in a nation of democratic institutions, they will also become criminals. At which point they should be prosecuted, convicted and placed in time out.


Not necessarily easy, and I think that by any reasonable standard, I would prefer the evolution of “a conservatism that is culturally modern, economically inclusive, and environmentally responsible” instead. But that seems some remote distance off, given that David himself immediately proceeded to suggest that “culturally modern” conservatism must “[slow] the pace of immigration so that the existing population of the country does not feel it is being displaced and replaced.”

The existing population of the country is not being displaced and replaced. Responsible, “culturally modern” conservatism should help inform persons who feel that way that their feelings are based on misperception—which has often been actively encouraged by not-so-culturally-modern conservatives—rather than trying to set policy to placate ignorance and error.

Also simple, one would like to think.

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