Skip to main content

Intelligent Conservatism

  • Author:
  • Updated:
Michael Steele Speaks to College Republicans by cuatower.

by Ben Cohen

As the Republican Party descends into utter madness, sane voices can still be heard calling for intelligent conservatism. People like Andrew Sullivan present a more true version of the ideology and have stayed away from the relentless government bashing from the far Right. Because the fact is, government clearly can do certain things well, no matter how much it flies in the face of free market ideology.

The 'Cash for Clunkers' program has been, by all accounts, a successful government initiative. People trading in their old, inefficient cars for new more environmentally friendly ones has helped the car companies, helped keep jobs, and helped the environment. The problem is, the Right is so obsessed with taking down government it refuses to even acknowledge it, making the party seem ridiculous and completely out of touch.

Writes Sullivan:

What conservatives have to do, in my view, is not demonize government, but to champion limited
government. If government can do tangible practical things that help
everyone, while balancing its budget, it's doing what conservatives
think it should. Smart, practical initiatives that address problems
that the private sector has failed at: what else is government for? The
rest is ideology - and it seems to be all the Republicans have left.

Sullivan's intelligent conservatism can be seen in Great Britain, where Tory leader David Cameron would never dare touch the National Health Service, and pledged to match Labour public spending across key sectors of the economy. And Cameron will likely win the next election, because people believe he at least lives on the same planet as Gordon Brown.

In the United States, the leaders of the GOP exist in a reality so far away from main stream Democrats that it is hard to listen to them without laughing. Michael Steele claimed that 'Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job', while John McCain believed the answer to the economic melt down was, you guessed it, tax cuts for the rich.

Tried, tested and failed. Yet the Republicans continue to spout the same ideology regardless of the results.

Small government conservatism is a valid ideology, and it is worth debating against. I may disagree with Sullivan's conservatism, but at least we are speaking the same language. But while we converse in English, the Michael Steeles, John McCains and Sarah Palins are speaking Sanskrit. And until they stop, the GOP cannot be taken seriously. It's a dead language from a dead era, and how ever much they try, they cannot bring it back.