En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/13/1028

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January 13, 2009 10:28 AM - Woozle

Woozle said...

Mike: thanks for your reply.

I think we can talk both about ideals and the less-ideal realities.

For example: in principle, liberals are all about individual freedoms; in practice, some supposedly-liberals fall into the trap of preaching political correctness, which tightly constrains freedom in the name of solidarity (a form of authoritarianism -- and authoritarianism is much more in line with conservative ideals than liberal ones).

Likewise with conservatism, which (as I understand it) is supposed to be about personal responsibility and honor -- both traits in extremely short supply among many of the most ardent proponents of (what they claim is) conservative philosophy. (Yes, Bush -- but also Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, any random group of evangelists...)

So I'll try to make it plain when I'm talking about an ideal versus actual behavior. The key question is whether a given conservative is going against the ideals they argue we should all be following (i.e. being hypocritical) or is simply adhering to ideals which conflict with mine.

That question can only be resolved by discovering what those ideals are, as defined by that person.


Your definition of progressivism seems like a good start. To elaborate a bit:

At the very least, "You can't not make a choice." -- you can't avoid change by pretending it isn't going to happen, so the best thing is to decide what kind of change you prefer.

Progressives tend to see change as a positive thing, though, rather than a search for the least of multiple evils. The future always has potential to be better than the past.

This is the diametric opposite of the "golden past" mythos, which is embraced by many conservatives (especially evangelicals -- Garden of Eden and The Fall) -- so perhaps throwing out this idea is the key tenet of "progressive conservatism"?


Re differences: it sounds like you're suggesting the key difference between liberal and (prog-)conservative solutions is that liberals throw money at a problem, whereas conservatives prefer strategic solutions.

Let me know if I'm misreading that, but it certainly seems to match popular conception.

To be more accurate, I think it would be fair to say that liberals aren't afraid to spend money on solutions which they believe will pay for themselves in the long run. There is some evidence for this interpretation in that economic indicators tend to be better (and government expansion is reduced) during democratic presidencies, rather belying the myth that liberals love big government while conservatives fight against it.

My view of conservatives in this regard is that they tend to be penny-wise and pound-foolish -- cheering, for example, the destruction of the Office of Technology Assessment (a miniscule office which provided a very valuable service -- including much of the sort of strategic/low-budget thinking which conservatives claim to favor) while continuing to justify the horrid wastage of the Iraq War and other conservative pet projects.


And finally... what, exactly, do you mean by saying that conservatives are "more progressive" on abortion? That kind of flatly contradicts what I understand, but maybe those weren't the words you meant...