The first philosopher on whom Ronald Reagan bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom wrote that, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
If such a thing could happen to conservatism, how would you know?
One sign might be that its political priorities would start to eclipse the goods they were meant to support and protect. Perhaps a fixation on economic growth might lead it to forget what, and who, an economy was for. Perhaps a hostility to government aggrandizement would leave it unprepared to actually govern when the time came. Perhaps a commitment to free enterprise would cause it to look the other way while the nation’s industrial base was shipped overseas.
Or maybe, at the late-racket stage, the movement’s leaders might tell its most loyal followers after our country was fleeced in the largest upward redistribution of wealth in human history, that doing anything to reverse it was a betrayal of principle. They might say that paid parental leave was a socialist scheme, or that one shouldn’t worry too much about the fate of fellow countrymen who are resorting to gig-economy work with no benefits, if their jobs have not been eliminated altogether.
All of this is familiar to many of our readers already. And if these are conservative principles, to hell with them.
Today, the younger generations are facing dimmer prospects and even shorter lives than the ones that came before. It is hard to imagine why a young person, yoked with undischargeable debt and putting off the very things that create an invested citizenry — marriage, homeownership, and family life — would have any use for those principles. They have no stake in society or its future, so why would they want to preserve it.
If you want an explanation for why young people are turning into socialists, that’s it.
The good news is that brave minds are beginning to shake off the orthodoxies of the last 40 years. New thinkers on the right have begun to recognize the need for government action in the interest of the common good. They are beginning to acknowledge that families are worth spending money on, and that the dignity of work is more important than the profits of shareholders.
The purpose of American Renewal is to host these new ideas, here at the Daily Caller News Foundation. You can see all the articles on a landing page here. Our hope is that what emerges is an Americanism that is strong but not imperious, prudent but not cowardly, and that seeks to serve the national interest in economics, foreign affairs, and trade. Above all, this new Americanism must recognize that the greatness of our nation does not flow down from abstract ideas and principles, but up, from the American people.
– Arthur Bloom, editor, American Renewal
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