How do we as classical liberals (conservatives & libertarians) survive the Trump & ilk time in power? How do we define or counter the narrative? Can we hold fast to the principals that drew us into the party? Will we stand strong against the winds of liberalism and progressivism? Have some of us allowed the party to drift closer and closer to the point of becoming a part of what we find revolting?
These, and other questions torment me, as I watch friends and family abandon, with what seems like glee, the principals I thought they held dear. The principals our forefathers espoused, such as liberty and freedom, limited government, free trade between nations and people, and the principals which classical liberalism espouses as well.
In the past we held ourselves to a higher standard, and I still hope today, and for that matter in the future, we will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard, in opposition to what most of our political opposites do. Yet, it seems like many would rather abandon principal, our mutually held values, and standards, and instead, go full throttle towards the opposite side of things. Some excuse this with, “but the other side might win”, or brush off the idea that the values and principals we’ve worked so hard to uphold will be set aside in this new chapter of the party. I already see a host of principals and values tossed on the rubbish heap, along with any sense of honor and dignity.
As one author wrote of some people in the midst of an upheaval, who said “let this blood be upon us and our children”. This seems to be the case for those who bought the Trump style of politics. Americans seem to have rejected the very basic pillars of conservatism, for the ease of populism.
So how do we survive?
I think Jennifer Rubin in her recent Washington Post article put an interesting proposition forward “If there is to be a viable alternative to liberal statism, a center-right party must prioritize character, tolerance, intellectual honesty and decency — not a check list of policy positions from the 1980s — as the minimum requirements for elected office and party leadership. Most large organizations have a “mission” statement and the post-Trump center-right party surely needs one that emphasizes those attributes. A national center-right party should not be tethered to a check list of granular positions on dozens of issues, but instead to general propositions (e.g. American leadership in the world is essential; all Americans are deserving of the right to pursue earned success) and to a type of political honor code that insists upon civility, respect for fellow Americans and cultivation of an informed electorate. If this sounds ethereal and old-fashioned it is only because the GOP and Republican leaders have demonstrated incivility, lack of respect for their fellow Americans and perpetration of political myths and flat-out untruths. The party at the highest levels must eschew the politics of resentment, anger and hate.”
That may be part of the answer.
But is it really the path we should start out on? Have we become so disconnected from our positions, where we only give them lip-service, and do something totally different? I wonder if a combination of principals, positions and propositions wouldn’t work better in the long term?
Perhaps if we take the time to go back and study, understand, and reevaluate the principals and propositions that our founding fathers placed before us. If we understood their purpose, without adding our own interpretation, wouldn’t that be a better solution? If we take the time to become more knowledgeable about our political process, and how it affects our lives in this country, wouldn’t that be a better result?
(To be continued…)