The title of this post may seem strange but I've been reading a bit about historical political beliefs and structures and it strikes me that America lacks any real conservatives. Who do we have that promotes the value of existing institutions and seeks to draw on the lessons learned from them to channel the changes forced upon us into existing channels? I simply don't hear anyone promoting slow, gradual evolution and learning by doing.
Instead, it seems that radicalism dominates our discourse. I hear nothing but utopianism derived rationally from rather suspect first principles. It's as if all of our knowledge and all of our institutions must be swept away to prepare for some perfect world derived from a set of axioms no one can agree on. It's madness.
We hear about throwing out our entire tax code to be replaced by a flat tax, we hear about scrapping Medicare and Medicaid for vouchers, scrapping the Department of Education for vouchers, we hear about having the fracking government define when life begins, and scrapping Social Security. It's crazy, it's radical utopianism at its worst. Virtual Jacobism. I don't understand it.
The Democrats are at least somewhat better, they are advocating building on existing institutions to solve our problems. But none of them show any real philosophical commitment to this, they're using the tactic because they believe it's all that can be done in our modern political climate. Free of this, I don't really trust them.
So where is anyone willing to advocate for old school pragmatic conservatism? I want two steps forward, one step back change. I want every move forward to be met be a reassessment and course correction before moving forward again. I want policies advocated for based on previous and comparative experience, not grand ideological schemes based on the mad scribblings of two bit hack op-ed columnists. I want course corrections when problems come up, like middle class income stagnation and the correlated growth of top percentile incomes, not competing camps of denial based on ideology on one side and irrational ideologically driven rage on the other. I want leaders that will recognize reality, deal with it based on past experience and examination of what works.
I want leaders that will say Fuck Ideology, the world is too complex for that. We can't derive solutions rationally from first principles or build a world that will conform to them. All we can do is rely on the slow, evolutionary method of change and democratic accountability to identify our problems. We can recognize what works, correct our course when we have problems, and move forward that way. Every change will bring problems that have to be resolved before making the next change, that's the way it always is. Sweeping the board clean has never brought anything but grief.
So why is that I hear nothing but radicalism and Jacobinsm in modern American politics? What is this madness, where is anyone in favor of gradual change? Why does everyone want to redefine what it is to be American into bizarre caricatures of our history, like the Tea Party? What is wrong with our country right now? Where are the freaking traditionalist conservatives who will go to bad for minor course corrections and building on our existing foundations? Where are you? Who will denounce this radicalism that we are drowning in?