Thursday, March 22, 2007

Two Kinds of Conservatism

The recent spat between California Governor Arnold Scharzenegger and talk show host Rush Limbaugh shows two examples of modern conservatism.

The first example is what I will call "pragmatic conservatism" that is exemplfied by Arnold and the National Associations of Evangelicals. This type of conservatism is interested in results. While they don't see eye to eye with liberals, they are willing to cut deals to get things done. They are more interested in solving problems (health care, the environment, Dafur) than they are in fighting Democrats. The solutions they propose tend to be more market-based than the Democrats. This type of conservative isn't that interested in divisive social issues.

The other example is what I call, "political conservatism." This strain, is more interested in scoring politcal points than they are in producing actual policy. This example is clear exemplified by the Bush Administration. Unlike the pragmatists, they see those who oppose them as the enemy and seek to find ways to weaken their opponents. They are not interested in policy except when it serves their political interests. They use divisive social issues (abortion, homosexuality) and fear to bring out voters.

These are the two conservatisms that are out there today. It is interesting to note that one of these won handily in 2006 while the other one was "thumped."

There are many in California who are mad that Schwarzenegger isn't acting like a "true Republican," which I guess means, not hating the Democrats enough, pretending global warming isn't real, and not hating gays. The funny thing is that some of the most ideological Republicans don't really do anything. I think right now at this time, people want things done and if the Republican party wants to have a decent future, it might want to focus more on finding conservative solutions to problems and less on trying to pin people like myself and my partner as the bearers of all that is evil in the world.


Dyre42 said...

I think your view in this post is overly simple. It seems to me that while there are two main groups one being the fiscally conservative, limited federal govt, national defense oriented, type and the anti-abortion, pro prayer in schools, anti-gay type, there are dozens of flavors of Republican/Conservative in between.

The problem is that in order for a Republican/Conservative to get elected they at least have to pay lip service to the views of the two main groups in order to raise enough funds to stand a chance of being elected.

Paul Wartenberg said...

You are so right. There is no more 'liberal' or 'conservative' anymore. It's now 'pragmatic' versus 'ideologue'. It's those in favor of positive results, good work, effective action; versus those in favor of political points, hackery, and incompetence.