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Ron Radosh

Towards a More Effective Conservatism

March 30th, 2009 - 5:29 pm

It is no secret that the Republican Party and the conservative movement have been floundering  since their trouncing in the last election.  But, in the past few days some conservative posts and the formation of a new group indicate that a more nuanced conservatism may be emerging from the ashes.

First, I recommend reading David Horowitz’s essay today on Frontpagemag.com, in which he comments on “Obama Derangement Syndrome,” and warns conservatives on replicating the kind of virulent Bush hatred that spewed forth from the mouths of liberals during the past eight years. As Horowitz points out, in foreign policy at least, Obama is carrying out the Bush policies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iran, he has made it clear during the past few days, through both Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, that sanctions against Iran will be increased, and that negotiations in a meaningful sense will not take place. “We are not,” Horowitz writes, “witnessing the coming of the anti-Christ.”

Writing in The National Post of Canada, David Frum continues to explain how and why he differs from Rush Limbaugh, and to delineate the nature of the conservatism he thinks can have a broad appeal and continue to grow. Denying that he has become a “mushy moderate,” as one of his friends wrote about him, Frum argues that conservatives have to do more than denounce the  policies of the Bush years in favor of a supposedly pure philosophical conservatism. This does not mean that he will cease to criticize the current administration for its “reckless spending and destructive taxation.”

According to Frum, conservatives are “bereft of answers for the economic challenges of the 21st century.”  And more to the point, this situation seemed to not worry many of his conservative friends and colleagues.  He believes that conservatives have to move beyond the old cultural warfare battles of the past and present policies that appeal and make sense to the majority of the American people.  And this means accepting some of the major changes in the nation on cultural issues—such as ending opposition to stem cell research, gay rights, and concerns about the environment.

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