I am currently involved in a scuffle, over at NewsReal Blog, with a certain very nice young man named Calvin Freiburger. He takes issue with my contention that big-government social conservatives still hold too great a sway over the political Right and must be de-fanged. I have answered him in another post at NRB, one not yet published. But I wish to say a bit more about the matter here.
First of all, I will again explain my take on social conservatism in general. According to my understanding, it can really only be said to mean one of two things. Either it concerns itself with politics — which is to say, with the workings of government — or it is the self-definition of swelled-headed narcissists who fancy themselves more moral, or more pious than anybody else (usually without any substantial evidence to back it up). NRB’s editors take issue with lumping all social conservatives together as big-government meddlers, and perhaps they are right. But I have not yet heard a better definition than the two that I have given.
Whatever they are, I certainly believe in including them and making them a part of the crucial debates of the day, but I don’t think they should be allowed to push everybody else around.
I assert, in my latest post at NRB, that another great conservative housecleaning is needed: one very like that which took place, in the Sixties, when William F. Buckley took a bold stand against the John Birchers who were then besmirching the movement. As far as I can see, this housecleaning has not yet really happened. Mr. Buckley did not merely maintain a polite silence. Nor did he pooh-pooh complaints about the Birchers and their ilk. He spoke out bravely and decisively against the rot with which they had infected the movement.
The polite silence toward social conservative meddlers now emanating from the Right is exactly what I mean when I accuse them of Right-Wing political correctness. This particular form of it usually takes the form of such delicacy — of omission, rather than of commission. And it is no light matter. It makes a mockery of the conservatives’ constant ridicule of P.C. on the Left. It neutralizes it, damaging its credibility and rendering it much less effective than it should be.
The people I wish to sway will not be convinced by prim chiding from doe-eyed innocents like Calvin Freiburger — however well-mannered they may be. If I am to be credible and effective, I must have something far more substantive to give them.
Not everything those on the Left believe is wrong, and they are not all dastardly villains hell-bent on the destruction of the world. To the degree that they have a valid point, the Right must learn how to address it. When it doesn’t bother, it gives the impression either that there are issues — crucial to many — about which it simply doesn’t give a tinker’s damn or that it is too cowed by tyrants and theocrats to address them. Silence says nothing. It would be hard for those who do care about what are too-easily dismissed as “Leftist issues” to come to conclusions other than those.
Conservatives claim that Leftist progressivism is entirely unnecessary. They say their opponents either dream up problems that aren’t real, or else — quite often — that the Right has the true answer to them. I think the latter is true. But those who make that claim do precious little to sell it.
If they don’t, it may very well be because they DON’T give a tinker’s damn. But if they hope to transform national politics as lastingly as they say they do, they had better learn.