En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/14/1121

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January 14, 2009 11:21 AM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I would disagree that 'principles' only reside on the Left. What I would instead suggest is that conservatives rely on precedent as a guide while liberals rely on reason. That is not to say that there is no logic behind conservative policies, but we do not allow thought to overshadow experience. Example: Conservatives believe that history has shown capitalism to be the best economic system. We rely on experience to show us that we should trust free markets and try not to interfere. Perhaps naively onservatives say, "Give it time, the market will correct itself." while liberals always believe they can reason out a better system so that this won't happen again. That is why there is a constant flirtation with economists and a general love affair with intellectuals on the Left. Liberals rarely believe a policy, system or institution is beyond a little tinkering and they rely on their beloved thinkers to guide them. It's my opinion that this over-reliance on reason leads to a certain 'restlessness' on the Left. I recently heard it described as, "They will always go past a good solution to get to a brilliant one." You also left out the entire line from Disraeli which is, "...in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines." Conservatives have a genuine fear of untested and untried ideas. Liberals, on the other hand would much rather jump in deal with the fallout later.

To address the oxymoron question of 'progressive conservative' it's simple enough to rely on the example of the pendelum. In most cases of societal change, the pendelum must swing both ways before it settles properly in the middle. I would compliment liberals in that they are usually the ones that start the pendelum swinging, because, as we noted earlier, conservatives are often too rigid in our resistance to change. Inevitably though, the pendelum swings too far. That's when conservatives usually step in and try to ratchet it back. Now, at that point, you would say we are halting 'progress' so we can't be 'progressive'. I would say that when the pendelum swings far, progress has stopped. So by trying to move things back towards an ideal solution, we are indeed 'progressive' because we have positive goals that require change from the status quo. Back to our example of education…conservatives believe that changes made in schools during the 1960's were mostly okay, but now things have drifted too far. In our school system here in Louisville, we have several schools that operate under a back-to-basics model that is actually called the 'traditional' model. These schools more closely resemble classrooms of the 1950's than the 1990's but are considered 'progressive' because they are top performers and are moving away from the more widely accepted system.

As to good or bad traditions, that's open to interpretation. You might say spanking your kids is a bad 'tradition' to follow, while I think it's perfectly acceptable. I think we can both agree that a tradition of racial segregation in the South was bad. We might diverge again on the tradition of marriage being exclusively between one man and one woman.

Most of the writing Disraeli did seems to indicate that he wanted his side to be the 'national' party which upheld a sense of patriotism which he believed was vital to the national good. He also suggested that a liberal inclination towards enlightement almost made them a 'group without a country'. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but I certainly believe liberals are too fluid. That's why they tend to attract people of more divergent views than conservatives.

As for abortion, it's the same case of the pendelum again. We went from no legal abortions to a free-for-all. When you look at abortion statistics, it's clear that it's being used as birth control. There HAS to be a compromise. Most conservatives no longer hold the rigid view of an outright ban or nothing. Liberals do not seem as flexible. If one side is willing to walk toward the other, I see that as 'progressive'.

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January 14, 2009 11:22 AM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Sorry for the lack of paragraph breaks - I should have checked that before I hit save.

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Notes

I've added paragraph breaks for readability, since Mike apparently intended there to be some. --Woozle 23:16, 26 July 2010 (UTC)