My good friend Robert writes in on my post about Laura Ingraham’s version of Conservatism:
the write up you’ve done here. I, too, question what Ingraham means by
Conservatism. To begin with, let’s be honest, the US on a whole global
scale of all the countries of every period in history is a moderate to
liberal country. As to her specific argument, I look back to the
presidencies, and thus American policy, of the last 100 years, and I
wonder how Ingraham drew her conclusion. I think the movement had wisps
of success in various periods, only to see it blow up in conservative’s
faces. A decade of what I’d called true conservatism in the 20’s lead
to the Great Depression and a 20 year hold by liberals. A little social
program which came out during that period was called the New Deal. The
50’s, led by Eisenhower, had a few flashes of progressivism, such as
the start of desegregation. The economic prosperity of the time was
also due in large part to the recovering global economy started under
Truman’s watch. The 60’s? I give you LBJ’s Great Society, another spurt
of far-reaching social changes.
Sure the 70’s brought a new call for conservatism, and Barry Goldwater,
who ran against LBJ in 1964, was its poster child. But how did
Goldwater, aka Mr. Conservative, react when the religious right moved
in to the GOP? He and other conservatives distanced themselves from the
I would thus make the argument that Ingraham got only part of her
thought process right. Religious Conservatism has been the prevalent
political ideology of the last thirty years. The reason it still has an
impact today is largely because, as Sullivan hinted, they spent us into
the economic situation today.
In a similar vain… I recall a conversation with my grandfather,
during Clinton’s presidency, reminiscing about the good ol’ days in the
50’s, “when things were easier, a man could support his family and
conservatives ran the country.” He’s right that conservatives had
something to offer, because there’s certainly room for good ideas from
both sides. However, I remember a scene from ‘Mad Men’, which takes
place in that period, where a main character shakes out her blanket
along a highway after a picnic, leaving the family’s garbage behind,
something that certainly wouldn’t be tolerated today (Note: highway
beautification was the pet project of First Lady Lady Bird Johnson).
Maybe the analogy could be made that liberals/progressives have had
such a strong impact in the last century because conservative screw ups
have been so bad, the nation demanded the other side come along to
clean up the mess. With that clean-up job though, came the opportunity
to enact amazing social changes. With a little luck, the country can
continue its progressive trend.
Okay, so that became a little long but what can I say? You bring up
interesting topics. Oh and Ari’s posting of Obama at Dover AFB was a
fine tribute to such a solemn and poignant photo.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.