Jerry Salyer at Front Porch Republic has written a stunning essay on “conservative liberalism”; that is, people who are conservatives while still embracing the assumptions of liberalism (for example, commercialism, progressivism, radical individualism). Think of a church that claims conservative theology and values while throwing out all church traditions in an embrace of modern culture that contradicts its ostensible conservatism. Or a conservative small town that replaces its historic downtown buildings with strip malls, in the name of economic progress. Or someone who claims to be a conservative but whose decisions are actually shaped by that most liberal of philosophies, namely, pragmatism.
Salyer’s piece defies summary, but here is a tiny sample:
I find it increasingly difficult to sympathize with conservative defenders of liberalism, who praise mass culture yet fret over socialism, who worry about relativism for a living yet dismiss concerns about uglification as reflecting the mere opinions of elitist aesthetes. A conservative liberal is somebody who encourages the prevailing progressive view that the past was benighted and is best forgotten, but then demands respect for the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. . . .
And just what is meant by “ordinary folk?” Does it include the large majority who evidently thought Barack Obama would be a swell president? Does it include those whose children master the remote before learning to speak? Those who treat birth-control pills as if they were M&M’s, stand assembled outside Toys’R’Us like ravenous zombies in the wee hours of Black Friday, and think dolls dressed like cheap hookers make nice Christmas gifts for little girls? (Of course whenever there’s even the faintest threat that “ordinary folk” might recover a sense of who they are and where they come from, sage passengers on the conservative establishment gravy-train are quick to jettison all traces of populism and denounce the latent nativism, protectionism, and isolationism of ignorant small-town rabble.)
Can you think of other examples of liberal assumptions that we conservatives often operate under? I think this is something we are all guilty of some times.