The Threat to American Conservatism

The Threat to American Conservatism November 15, 2017


American conservatism is in jeopardy.  If people who say they are conservatives vote for candidates who violate conservative principles–for example, “family values,” moral integrity, fidelity to the constitution, etc.–conservatism is proven to be a sham, just as the progressives claim.

So says John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist.  He discusses the Judge Roy Moore debacle, showing that the Senate candidate now accused of child molestation has never really been a conservative.

His defiance of the court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument and his defying the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling by forbidding Alabama courthouses to obey it might have shown that he was on the right side of the culture war.

But he disobeyed the law.  He defied the Constitution by repudiating the authority of the judicial system.  That is not being conservative.

Nevertheless, many conservatives are supporting Judge Moore even in the face of the child molestation charges, which are growing in their credibility as evidence emerges.  Social conservatives, including Christian conservatives, hold to a high standard of sexual morality.  Or do they really, if they are willing to make an exception for Judge Moore?

If political and social conservatives don’t really believe in political and social conservatism, why should anyone take their beliefs seriously?

Progressives keep saying that conservative ideals are nothing more than rhetoric, just a smokescreen for getting power.  Some conservatives act like they are trying to prove that the progressives are right.

From John Daniel Davidson, Long Before Assault Allegations, Roy Moore Betrayed Conservatism, in The Federalist:

Progressives tend not to believe that conservatives are sincere about their opposition to abortion, or gay marriage, or much of anything that conservatives profess. For most Democrats, conservative policy positions are all cynical ploys to secure an advantage at the expense of some minority group or other. When conservatives put forward regulations on abortion, they’re not really concerned about protecting the unborn but controlling women. When they oppose the expansion of the welfare state, they’re not really concerned about limiting government expenditures but punishing the poor. When they talk about protecting religious liberty, they’re really talking about discriminating against gay Americans.

The revelation of Moore’s alleged sexual misdeeds and crimes are repugnant enough on their own, and should cost him the election. But to the extent that he continues to receive significant support from Alabama conservatives, the accusations will have consequences beyond this one election. Much like the support Moore received earlier in his career, his supporters are sending the message that social conservatives are hypocrites: they don’t care about family values or morality or even basic decency, all they care about is power. Every time Republican voters embrace a non-conservative like Moore, that message gets harder to refute.

The threat to American conservatism is not that it will lose elections.  That happens, but conservatism can survive to fight another day.  But if conservatives stop abiding by conservative principles, then conservatism will cease to exist.




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