Jerry Taylor Profile picture
Oct 7, 2018 28 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
A group of self-appointed ideological policemen have petitioned @PostOpinions to quit identifying opinion writer @JRubinBlogger as a conservative. This is a teachable moment, so let’s dig in to this to make some larger and more important points. <THREAD>…
1/ Consider the list of indictments they’ve offered. How in the hell does a commitment to limited government, free enterprise, and a robust national defense (the core commitments of modern conservatism) inform how she or anyone else should think about ...
2/ ... Trump’s misogyny, the Ford-Kavanaugh accusations, our declining standing in the world (being laughed at around the world, after all, is something Donald Trump repeatedly thundered about when HE was running for president), or Republican electoral fortunes going forward?
3/ Would these gendarmes have had much patience with the argument, for example, that one can’t be a good liberal if one is skeptical about Bill Clinton’s fitness for office in the wake of the sexual harassment charges against him? Probably not (or one would hope not).
4/ Or that one can’t be a good liberal if one fears that the oft-forecast #BlueWave might not be all that it’s cracked up to be? Come on ….
5/ Even so, according to the Post's website, @JRubinBlogger is identified as having a “center-right perspective.” Conservative gendarmes should not be allowed to gain lebenstraum by arguing that conservatism (even as they define it) is the only creed on the center-right.
6/ What we’re witnessing here is a live demonstration of a point well made by sociologists and political scientists. To wit, ideological commitments in America are, for the vast majority of people, very little about core principles and very much about deep partisan commitments.
7/ To cite just a few accessible references, consider this from political scientist @LilyMasonPhD.…
8/ Or this from Leonie Huddy, Lilliana Mason, and Lene Aaroe.…
9/ Or this from Shanto Iyengar, Gaurav Sood, and Yphtach Lelkes.…
10/ There is very little correlation between one’s stated ideological beliefs and one’s position on issues beyond women’s issues (especially abortion), gay rights, and to some extent, environmental protection. From…
11/ Ideology in the service of partisanship is unfortunate. One should have leeway to hold to principled commitments when they conflict with partisan commitments. ESPECIALLY when they conflict with partisan commitments. That’s important if we’re to keep “our side” honest.
12/ Arguments about whether an argument is “conservative” are less interesting and than arguments about whether a given argument is correct. Since ideologies are pattern recognition heuristics to better understand the world, the latter conversation is the important one ...
13/ The former argument is the argument of religious cultists. If something is correct but not consistent with a given ideological creed, then the creed should change. Or so much worse for the creed.
14/ Never-Trumpers, however, are on shaky ground in proclaiming that THEY are the authentic holders of the true conservative faith and not the Trumpist heretics. That’s because conservatism (like liberalism) is constantly changing and evolving.
15/ And that’s also because we find ourselves back in a debate about ideology vs. a debate about truth.
16/ For instance, conservatives used to oppose tax cuts that increased the deficit. They used to support environmental protection. They used to support gun control and civil rights (at least, northern conservatives did prior to 1964) ...
17/ They were protectionist, then free-trade, and are now protectionist again. They were isolationists, then crusading internationalists, and are now isolationist-minded again.
18/ And there’s a plethora of distinct and often frictional houses within conservatism. Depending upon which intellectual sub-tribe most appeals to you, conservatism—even in relatively modern contexts—can mean many very different things.…
19/ To say nothing of the differences between the conservatism, say of Burke, Disraeli, and Oakeshott and the conservatism of Koch Empire or Trump Tower.
20/ Never-Trump defenses of the conservative label are not only misguided (the label is constantly evolving and will never remained fixed politically), they are now dangerous. Modern conservatism was founded at start in a misconceived blanket opposition to liberalism ...
21/ ... an opposition that was an elemental characteristic of Bill Buckley’s fusionist conservatism at its very birth. This has made the center-right vulnerable to its own most illiberal elements, which have now remade conservatism in their own image.
22/ The Trump presidency is a culmination of developments that have been corrupting the conservative movement and the Republican Party for many years.
23/ Whatever the merits of conservatism at its best (for my money, Michael Oakeshott), that conservatism doesn’t exist in the GOP. Right-of-center intellectuals repulsed by Trumpism need a new language and new creed to carry on the fight. I know that Rubin understands this.
24/ While it might be tempting to use conservative language and values to promote moderation — conservatism, classically understood, is nothing if not a philosophy of moderation — the language and thought of contemporary American conservatism is now thoroughly degraded.
25/ Given the trajectory of modern conservatism and the commanding heights that its most illiberal wing occupies in the conservative media, Never-Trumpers are unlikely to win an internecine war about what conservativism should mean going forward.
26/ Never-Trumpers are best advised to let the Trumpists have the conservative label. They’ve in any event rendered it toxic for a generation. We need to give birth to a new fighting faith on the center-right that can do battle with conservatism, a thread for another time <END>
Sorry, meant to write "lebensraum." Typo.

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More from @jerry_jtaylor

Aug 23, 2018
There are many ostensibly politically sophisticated climate activists who think the way to move the GOP into a better place on climate policy is to never discuss climate change or climate science. This is maddening self delusion. <THREAD>… #axiosgenerate
1/ The battle over climate science is the battle that wins (or loses) the war. Denialisms know this in their bones. Why don't climate realists? And increasing Republican awareness of the scientific consensus DOES move them. Now, the lit review.…
2/ Kerr & Wilson, 2018.…
Read 19 tweets
Jul 28, 2018
To those on the right worked into a lather about how it's not "conservative" to address climate related damages and risks to future generations via taxing or regulating GhG emissions, Sen. Barry Goldwater ("Mr. Conservative") has this to say in "The Consciernce of a Majority."
And if any of the self-appointed guardians of the conservative gospel doubt that these sentiments were a deep part of Goldwater's thinking (even if not always perfectly upheld in the political arena), they would be well-advised to read this first.…
Now, I care not one whit if acting against climate change comports with contemporary understanding of the conservative gospel. I care far more about whether acting comports with what we know about the science of climate change and the risks it poses to our future. Facts>Ideology.
Read 16 tweets
Mar 13, 2018
The political landscape within the Democratic and Republican parties is not what you think it is, at least according to Prof. Larry Bartels of "Democracy for Realists" fame. In a new paper, he blows away a lot of conventional wisdom. <LONG THREAD>
1/ Bartels' paper examines a November 2017 YouGov survey of 2,000 people, all of whom were originally interviewed in 2015 and 2016 as part of YouGov's 2016 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project.…
2/ He considers 43 data points re social views, policy preferences, and feelings about politically salient groups. He then constructs two summary dimensions reflecting the major bases of disagreement between and within the two parties: Limited Government and Cultural Conservatism
Read 43 tweets
Feb 5, 2018
This is increasingly the conventional narrative. It is wrong on several critical points. So let’s discuss. <THREAD>…
1/ Party orthodoxy has hardly changed at all under Trump. For instance, anti-immigration sentiment dominated pro-immigration sentiment in the pages of conservative publications and over the air-waves of right-wing TV and radio for more than a decade now.
2/ Likewise, anti-globalism (manifested in fears that Americans were being ripped off in trade deals and burdened by grasping international free-riders) has been in the GOP since Goldwater. Longstanding anti-UN sentiment means something more and has very deep roots.
Read 16 tweets
Nov 26, 2017
The libertarian-to-Nazi feeder system for the alt-right is becoming an all-too-common tale. Libertarians should think very hard about why that is <THREAD>…
1/ Niskanen’s @hamandcheese is a good place to start.…
2/ Niskanen’s ever capable @willwilkinson should be your next stop.…
Read 15 tweets

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