“There is no returning to the pre-Trump conservative consensus that collapsed in 2016.” So concludes a group of conservative thinkers who have issued a manifesto about how a rebooted conservatism needs to be.
According to Against the Dead Consensus, the Reagan-era conservative consensus–an alliance of libertarians, business interests, and cultural conservatives–shared a key belief with liberalism, one that has proven to be culturally toxic: the fetishizing of individual autonomy.
This mindset has manifested itself in personal freedom and free market prosperity, but it has also given us legalized abortion, the sexual revolution, and transgenderism.
Yes, the old conservative consensus paid lip service to traditional values. But it failed to retard, much less reverse, the eclipse of permanent truths, family stability, communal solidarity, and much else. It surrendered to the pornographization of daily life, to the culture of death, to the cult of competitiveness. It too often bowed to a poisonous and censorious multiculturalism.
The document neither endorses nor criticizes Donald Trump, with some of the signatories evidently supporting him and others not. But the rebooted conservatism it advocates seems to be in accord with his economic policies–reining in capitalism when it hurts blue collar workers–and with his concerns about uncontrolled immigration.The signatories set forth six principles that should be at the heart of the new conservatism. Here they are. The document explains what each of these entails:
We oppose the soulless society of individual affluence.
We stand with the American citizen.
We reject attempts to compromise on human dignity.
We resist a tyrannical liberalism.
We want a country that works for workers.
We believe home matters.
What do you think of this? Might this kind of conservatism win hearts and minds in the post-Trump era (whether that commences in two or six years)? Is it so culturally conservative that it will be a futile gesture? Or does this version effectively address the dysfunctions of our time? Does it undervalue the Reagan-era conservative consensus, which at least was able to win elections and which, despite its limits, gave us a large measure of freedom and prosperity?
Illustration: Portrait of Sir Edmund Burke [“Father of Modern Conservatism”] (1746-1831) by James Northcote [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons