What are we to make of Teddy Roosevelt?

Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican.  He was also a Progressive.  Showing that contemporary categories don’t always apply to issues of even the recent past, people today on both the left and the right don’t know quite what to make of the Rough Rider.  Some conservatives blame him for the mindset that gave us big government.  Others hail him as a champion of “family values” and see him as the original “social conservative.”  After the jump is an excerpt from a four-way debate sponsored by the Claremont Institute. [Read more...]

Edmund Burke’s version of conservatism

The (liberal) E. J. Dionne discusses Edmund Burke: The First Conservative by British lawmaker Jesse Norman.  In doing so, he gives a useful summary of what the 18th century statesman and political theorist was all about.  So how is this different from some of the things that  pass for conservatism today? [Read more...]

Do conservatives need to be Catholics?

According to some circles, in order to be a consistent conservative, you really need to be a Roman Catholic.  Darryl Hart challenges that notion. [Read more...]

Our partnership with the dead, the living, and the unborn

Peter Wehner quotes British journalist Charles Moore, reviewing Jesse Norman’s new biography of the 18th century father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke:

As his struggles for America, Ireland and Corsica showed, Burke was no automatic defender of existing authority. But what he understood, and expressed with immense rhetorical power, was how human beings stand in relation to one another. Although they are morally autonomous individuals, they do not – cannot – live in isolation. In our language, laws, institutions, religion, and in our families, we are part of a continuum.

Society is ”a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’’. It is not society that keeps mankind in chains, but the pretence that now is the only time that matters. Almost every piece of rot you hear in politics comes from those who wish to lock man into what WH Auden called ”the prison of his days’’. It is comforting that the Burkean Jesse Norman is in the House of Commons to tell them when they are wrong.

Mr. Wehner adds his reflections:

It strikes me that this ancient insight–of how we do not live in isolation, that we are part of a continuum–has been a bit neglected by American conservatives in recent years. [Read more...]

Civil war within the Republican party?

The John McCain wing of the Republican party and the Rand Paul wing of the Republican party have been attacking each other over military policy and who is to blame for losing the presidential election.  Now at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, the so-called establishment Republicans and the so-called tea-party Republicans ridiculed each other.  Observers are seeing schism, if not civil war.

Interestingly, Mario Rubio and Jeb Bush are being described as “establishment” figures, though they used to be considered hard-core conservatives.  So I suspect some of this Republican break-up talk is wishful thinking from Democrat-leaning pundits.  But here is a prediction:  Both the “pragmatic” professional politicians in the Republican party–the ones fixated on winning elections–AND the newly insurgent libertarian wing associated with Rand Paul will come together to advocate gay marriage.  If this happens, where would that leave you (us) social conservatives?  [Read more...]

Big business vs. free enterprise

Ezra Klein tells about young conservative think-tanker Derek Khanna, who wrote at his bosses’ behest a paper criticizing the heavy-handed use of copyright law to inhibit competition.  Conservatives praised the paper, but then pushback from corporate funders caused the think tank to pull the paper and fire its author.

Khanna had unwittingly stumbled into a deep fissure in today’s Republican Party. The party sees itself as the champion of private enterprise. But which private enterprises? The ones that exist today? Or the ones that might exist tomorrow?

There’s a difference between being the party of free markets and the party of existing businesses. Excessively tough copyright law is good for big businesses with large legal departments but bad for new businesses that can’t afford a lawyer. And while Khanna, like many young conservative thinkers, believes in free markets, the Republican Party is heavily funded by big businesses. [Read more...]


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