This article appeared in: Besides William Howard Taft, the incumbent Republican president, the campaign was joined by Eugene Debs, the labor leader from Indiana, who ran on the Socialist Party ticket; the irrepressible Theodore Roosevelt, who bolted from the GOP and ran as the champion of the Progressive Party; and Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic governor of New Jersey, who was elected president. All four candidates acknowledged that fundamental changes were occurring in the American political landscape, and each attempted to define the Progressive Era's answer to the questions raised by the new industrial order that had grown up within the American constitutional system.
You may die anyway.
You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. To compound the metaphor: With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances. To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic.
Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals? Not to pick too much on Kesler, who is less unwarrantedly optimistic than most conservatives.
And who, at least, poses the right question: The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning. But let us back up. One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad.
On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes.
And so on and drearily on. Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything.
And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental?
Do they get to the heart of our problems? A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. What does Continetti propose to do about it? Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation.
But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes?
What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption? A step has been skipped in there somewhere. Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump.
I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.Lone Star College System Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, TX - MAPS | HELP | JOBS | ACHIEVING THE DREAM | EMPLOYEE INTRANET.
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We offer these essays free of cost to all of our visitors. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is intended to provide a brief and accurate explanation of each clause of the Constitution. Lone Star College System Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, TX - MAPS | HELP | JOBS | ACHIEVING THE DREAM | EMPLOYEE INTRANET.
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