That Old Time Politics

Having come of political age in the 60s, I remember the transition from the traditional Republicanism of the Midwest (Rockefellerian, as it was) to the emergent New Right, with its fevered anti-Communism and its New Deal rejectionism. This was long before Ronald Reagan parted the waters in 1980.

Rod Dreher responds to an article outlining this New Right, aka “fusionism” and how the current moment differs. It does. Part of the difficulty of the moment, as of the lament is that the path out, this other moderate, decent path, was destroyed. The victory and subsequent purification of the Republican party robbed them of the resources now so desperately needed.

In a comment I wrote:

The impact of fusionism was the war against RINOs which displaced a deep, honorable traditional conservativism with something more ideological. Throughout the Midwest  this older, displaced form of traditional conservatism held main street values, but also championed common good solutions. These were men (few women in politics in those days) who enacted environmental law, who spoke out on civil rights, who built roads and infrastructure, who sought social programs that uplifted. They were found on Sundays in your mainline churches.

That generation of politicians of course, has largely disappeared.

Rather than seek a fusionism, I would submit that the better work is to promote the deeper traditionalist thinking of common good. Where we care about each other (and yes, this must mean the liberal and all the rest), we can then craft social solutions — political policies — that build a common life together. The best values in the BO nurture this; Deneen’s plea for a counterculture likewise points in this direction, albeit, that he wants to excoriate “liberals”. At its core, fusionism represents a shrinking of the moral base for conservative action, a replacing of what is Good and True for all (and so worthy of acceptance and action) with what is good and true for Some, a replacement of the polis for the merely political.

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