…is nicely captured in this comment from fellow Chestertonian Deacon Nathan Allen, who writes:
Anyone who uses the words “conservative” — or “liberal”, for that matter — in the context of American political discourse ought to be asked what exactly they mean by that word. Most of what is called “conservatism” these days has nothing whatever to do with the great American conservative tradition one finds set forth with clarity in the writings of scholars like Russell Kirk, for example. Ronald Reagan could not get the nomination of today’s GOP: he was “soft on terror” because he thought terrorists should be tried in federal court like common criminals and not have their cause dignified by treating them as enemy combatants, he was soft on torture because he signed the UN Convention Against Torture and called it an abhorent practice that had to be stamped out, and he was soft on immigration because he not only signed an amnesty bill into law but campaigned on the issue in a year (1984) when he was cruising to reelection and didn’t have to campaign on anything controversial. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
I find myself asking what exactly today’s self-styled “conservatives” are interested in conserving!
Apart from being (usually) anti-abortion (unless the baby being aborted happens to live in the womb of some civilian we have decided needs killin’ for some war aim like Hiroshima or a drone strike) and anti-euthanasia (unless the person we are snuffing is somebody we are *pretty* sure is guilty of a capital offense), the Thing That Used to be Conservatism has tended, more and more, to make moral calls that are either at odds with or even radically opposed to the teaching of the faith in establishing the common good (most notably in the department of unjust war, but also in a radically libertarian vision of the common good that has no serious interest in the weakest). In many significant ways, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism no longer has any interest in the common good and is often radically opposed to it due to the poisonous influence of a radical libertarianism that is a sort of mirror of the leftist obsession with radical relativism. As Reagan said of the Democrats, I say of the Thing That Used to be Conservatism: I didn’t move. It did. I remain what I’ve been: a Catholic who thinks that politics only exists for man, not man for politics and that party allegiances vanish the moment the party advocates things at odds with the moral principles of the faith. In our bipolar politics, people tend to hear “I no longer self-identify as a conservative” as “I am now a liberal”. No. It means I am now politically homeless since “liberal” typically means “zealous for the murder of the unborn” and “eager to pretend there is such a thing as gay ‘marriage’”. As a worshipper of a man who had no place to lay his head, I guess that’s to be expected sooner or later.