We Are No Longer Conservatives; We Are Restorationists

 

Conservatives have long struggled to define the term “conservatism.” This makes sense since it’s always been less a political ideology than a life philosophy. Perhaps even an attitude.

When asked to define conservatism, Abraham Lincoln replied, “Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?”

William F. Buckley updated his answer for the mid-20th century, framing it in opposition to liberalism. In other words, an anti-ideology. In his book Up from Liberalism (1959), Buckley declares conservativism is  “freedom, individuality, the sense of community, the sanctity of the family, the supremacy of the conscience, the spiritual view of life.”

A half-century earlier, G.K. Chesterton didn’t so much define the term as identify the action it requires.

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. [Orthodoxy, 1908]

It isn’t enough to “stand athwart history, yelling ‘Stop.'” Conservatism requires intentional, aggressive work to evaluate the firehose of proposed changes, then promote the good ones and destroy the bad.

Or, as Reagan put it, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Reagan was prophetic. These days, conservatives spend a lot of time telling younger generations what it was once like to be free. We speak of lost liberties and wonder how best to restore them.

Here’s the plain fact: there’s no need for conservatism when there’s little left to conserve.

That’s why, over at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson declared, “We Need To Stop Calling Ourselves Conservatives.”

Conservatives have long defined their politics in terms of what they wish to conserve or preserve — individual rights, family values, religious freedom, and so on. Conservatives, we are told, want to preserve the rich traditions and civilizational achievements of the past, pass them on to the next generation, and defend them from the left. In America, conservatives and classical liberals alike rightly believe an ascendent left wants to dismantle our constitutional system and transform America into a woke dystopia. The task of conservatives, going back many decades now, has been to stop them.

In an earlier era, this made sense. There was much to conserve. But any honest appraisal of our situation today renders such a definition absurd. After all, what have conservatives succeeded in conserving? In just my lifetime, they have lost much: marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years, the First Amendment, any semblance of control over our borders, a fundamental distinction between men and women, and, especially of late, the basic rule of law.

We have conserved a few things — gun rights, red-state economic policies, religious liberty (for now) — but it’s hard to argue with the main thrust of Davidson’s assessment.

The right isn’t conserving much but desperately trying to restore our freedom, our family, and our constitutional order.

Words mean things, and in the modern age, so does branding. I agree that “conservative” has outlasted its accuracy, but we need to call ourselves something. To that end…

We are no longer Conservatives; we are Restorationists.

We seek not to conserve the role of tradition in our society but to restore tradition to its rightful place.

Similarly, there are no national borders left to conserve; they must be restored.

The family is shattered and we must reintroduce this cornerstone of civilization. (That includes gender norms promoted from the dawn of time.)

Free speech must be placed back in the academy, workplace, and civil society.

All of this is work. Hard work. As such, it requires all of us to join the effort; neighbors, business leaders, teachers, and our government.

This is no longer the time for Conservation. On to Restoration.

Published in Politics, Religion & Philosophy
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  1. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):
    But with government out of the way,

    The problem is, it’s not like this and every single institution is taken over by the left and is failing from a conservative and libertarian point of view.

    So you get the NatCon Convention and articles like this that make Mark Levin insane.

    I share that concern-and also Levin’s insanity, however that problem may have already started solving itself. There is one heck of a backlash building up steam right now.

    That’s fair. 

    • #271
  2. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    Nobody ran out McCain. He died. Remember that? But dude. You know your campaign contributions are a matter of public record. They show you donated to McCain’s Democrat opponent. If anyone was trying to get rid of McCain, you were.

    What you don’t realize is that McCain’s 2016 opponent was Flagstaff lawyer Ann Kirkpatrick, a personal friend. In the end in 2016, I left my ballot blank for the McCain-Kirkpatrick race, as I could not stand to vote against either of them.

    I wondered about that, so I owe you an apology — for that, but not for all the other Democrats you’ve supported. (Or your running for Superior Court judge as a Democrat that same year.) It does show that someone who is . . . flexible with his party loyalties doesn’t really have any ground to stand on when demanding a return to Reaganism.

    • #272
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    kedavis (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):
    Darwin will take care of the rest.

    Except for the way so many of them already reproduce even before finishing High School. Darwin didn’t take that into account very well.

    Side note: Natural selection does not say that it will produce the best possible outcome.  Just that the approach actually occurring which is best suited to its environment will beat any others actually occurring — in the long run — in the aggregate.  Right now, the environment across large swathes of the world has abruptly changed from punishing stupidity and sloth to rewarding it.  Well, before the smart people noticed , the stupid ones simply benefitted.

    We can hold our civilized selves in whatever esteem we might, but globally, we are getting our butts kicked by the r-strategists.  Long term.  In the aggregate.

    • #273
  4. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    kedavis (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):
    Darwin will take care of the rest.

    Except for the way so many of them already reproduce even before finishing High School. Darwin didn’t take that into account very well.

    That problem is partially mitigated by the fact that abortion is still legal in California and other blue states.

    To a degree, in that it would probably be even worse without that; but for example the black teenage out-of-wedlock BIRTH rate is also very high, not just the pregnancy/abortion rate.

    My remark about abortion was somewhat flippant, as there is a tragic downside (in addition to the obvious.)  30 percent of all aborted babies are black.  Even more sickening is that this was Planned Parenthood’s original mission, back in the days they were called the “Negro Project.”  100 years later, they are getting their wish.

    • #274
  5. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    Nobody ran out McCain. He died. Remember that? But dude. You know your campaign contributions are a matter of public record. They show you donated to McCain’s Democrat opponent. If anyone was trying to get rid of McCain, you were.

    What you don’t realize is that McCain’s 2016 opponent was Flagstaff lawyer Ann Kirkpatrick, a personal friend. In the end in 2016, I left my ballot blank for the McCain-Kirkpatrick race, as I could not stand to vote against either of them.

    I wondered about that, so I owe you an apology — for that, but not for all the other Democrats you’ve supported. (Or your running for Superior Court judge as a Democrat that same year.) It does show that someone who is . . . flexible with his party loyalties doesn’t really have any ground to stand on when demanding a return to Reaganism.

    I took out nominating petitions in 2016 and abandoned the entire effort within a month.  I never filed.  My point is that you or someone else took a lot of time to dig this up, or hired someone to check it out.  That is quite disturbing to me.  What would possess someone to investigate me?  

    • #275
  6. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    Nobody ran out McCain. He died. Remember that? But dude. You know your campaign contributions are a matter of public record. They show you donated to McCain’s Democrat opponent. If anyone was trying to get rid of McCain, you were.

    What you don’t realize is that McCain’s 2016 opponent was Flagstaff lawyer Ann Kirkpatrick, a personal friend. In the end in 2016, I left my ballot blank for the McCain-Kirkpatrick race, as I could not stand to vote against either of them.

    I wondered about that, so I owe you an apology — for that, but not for all the other Democrats you’ve supported. (Or your running for Superior Court judge as a Democrat that same year.) It does show that someone who is . . . flexible with his party loyalties doesn’t really have any ground to stand on when demanding a return to Reaganism.

    I took out nominating petitions in 2016 and abandoned the entire effort within a month. I never filed. My point is that you or someone else took a lot of time to dig this up, or hired someone to check it out. That is quite disturbing to me. What would possess someone to investigate me?

    Well let’s see, I only know what I learned from Perry Mason, and L.A. Law, and My Cousin Vinny…

    Maybe something about impeaching your credibility?

    • #276
  7. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    Nobody ran out McCain. He died. Remember that? But dude. You know your campaign contributions are a matter of public record. They show you donated to McCain’s Democrat opponent. If anyone was trying to get rid of McCain, you were.

    What you don’t realize is that McCain’s 2016 opponent was Flagstaff lawyer Ann Kirkpatrick, a personal friend. In the end in 2016, I left my ballot blank for the McCain-Kirkpatrick race, as I could not stand to vote against either of them.

    I wondered about that, so I owe you an apology — for that, but not for all the other Democrats you’ve supported. (Or your running for Superior Court judge as a Democrat that same year.) It does show that someone who is . . . flexible with his party loyalties doesn’t really have any ground to stand on when demanding a return to Reaganism.

    I took out nominating petitions in 2016 and abandoned the entire effort within a month. I never filed. My point is that you or someone else took a lot of time to dig this up, or hired someone to check it out. That is quite disturbing to me. What would possess someone to investigate me?

    I don’t wish to be mean, Gary, but I’m also done being nice.  We all wonder why you’re here — at best.

    I don’t wish you ill — I wish you well.  At the same time, I am done.

    • #277
  8. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    Nobody ran out McCain. He died. Remember that? But dude. You know your campaign contributions are a matter of public record. They show you donated to McCain’s Democrat opponent. If anyone was trying to get rid of McCain, you were.

    What you don’t realize is that McCain’s 2016 opponent was Flagstaff lawyer Ann Kirkpatrick, a personal friend. In the end in 2016, I left my ballot blank for the McCain-Kirkpatrick race, as I could not stand to vote against either of them.

    I wondered about that, so I owe you an apology — for that, but not for all the other Democrats you’ve supported. (Or your running for Superior Court judge as a Democrat that same year.) It does show that someone who is . . . flexible with his party loyalties doesn’t really have any ground to stand on when demanding a return to Reaganism.

    Maybe he meant a return to Old School Reaganism, all the way back when Reagan was a Democrat.

    Of course, those Democrats no longer exist either.

    • #278
  9. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Maybe he meant a return to Old School Reaganism, all the way back when Reagan was a Democrat.

    Under-rated comment, as the kids all say.

    • #279
  10. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    If David French and George Will are not included in this movement, count me out. If Ricochet Founder Rob Long is not included in this movement, count me out. If Jonah Goldberg is not included in this movement, count me out.

    Good luck winning elections without us.

    Didn’t need you in 2016, don’t need you in 2024.

    You barely won in 2016, and in one term, Trump lost the House, the Senate and the Presidency, the first Republican to do so since Herbert Hoover’s first and only term.

    We are doing well in 2022, despite Trump. If Trump had gone away we would be winning the Senate going away, but we are stuck with the Trump endorsed candidates. See Masters, Blake for example.

    Trump earned a record number of votes without y’all.

    Biden won some 7 million votes more.

    I noticed you said “won” and not “earned” and winners sometimes win unfairly. 

    • #280
  11. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    Trump was restoring the country but was rejected by too many. So much for restoration.

    PDT was our Flight 93 president. He averted disaster. Restoration is going to take a generation.

    I’m glad President Trump was polarizing. We’re going to win this civilizational battle.

    Winning politics is addition not subtraction as Reagan taught us, winning 49 states.

    Didn’t teach us how to get a great judge confirmed..

    • #281
  12. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    “You must compromise and support *our* candidates, but we will vote Democrat rather than support yours” has been the Bush-Republican double-standard for years. It is one of the reasons I have become so alienated from electoral politics.

    With all due respect, Trump is doing his level best to run non-Trumpy candidates out of the party, like Jeff Flake, John McCain, Liz Cheney, and Lisa Murkowski. You can’t be surprised when people who have been run out of the party refuse to support Trump.

    My question to you is who would you agree to as President if it isn’t Trump? DeSantis. Fine by me. Kemp. Even better. Just not Trump, the person who sought to drive out anyone who disagreed with him.

    Running Flake, McCain, Cheney, and Murkowski out is a bad thing? I consider that to be restorative.

    By running out Flake and McCain, Arizona now has two Democrat Senators, and for the first time since 1964, the Democrats have a majority in the Arizona Congressional Delegation. So much winning, for the Democrats.

    I suppose you are a fan of Flake and of McCain.  

    • #282
  13. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    The subtext of the post is that conservatism has failed. For the work of restoration to succeed, one essential element is to defeat those who made it necessary by causing conservatism to fail. Most of those people were within the Conservative movement.

    Absolutely true.

    The standard-bearers of conservatism, inc. conserved nothing. And it’s telling that so many of them now work for Democrat outlets and spend their days excoriating conservatism.

    There needs to be a house-cleaning.

    That is the danger. As an apparent target of your “house-cleaning,” I note that I haven’t left.

    Successful politics is the art of addition, not subtraction.

    You mean like Trump added so many votes from 2016 to 2020?

    Trump added 11,231,326 votes in 2020 compared to 2016.

    However, in 2020 Biden added 15,415,210 compared to Hillary in 2016.

    Biden added 4,189,884 more votes than Trump did.

     

    Biden did nothing to earn those votes. Biden’s vote tally told me two things, it was a corrupt election, and we are two countries with incompatible and irreconcilable differences.

    It sounds like you adhere to the Trump view that “Either I win, or they cheated.” Is it possible that Biden won because people rejected Trump in 2020?

    No.

    • #283
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    .

    • #284
  15. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

     

     

     

    • #285
  16. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

     

    The Left probably agrees with Ted Kennedy’s destruction, but in recent memory I can’t think of anyone worse than him. He was involved with healthcare and immigration issues in the 1960s and Bush let him write the education bill in the 2000s. That’s just off the top of my head. Thirteen years sober Ted. Good on ya.

    What has Kelly done to be actively awful? I thought he just sat around until Schumer told him how to vote. Kennedy was writing destructive legislation.

    • #286
  17. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    What has Kelly done to be actively awful?

    I could be wrong but I think he’s specifically talking about the way he votes given that he’s in a troubled border state.

    • #287
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    What has Kelly done to be actively awful?

    I could be wrong but I think he’s specifically talking about the way he votes given that he’s in a troubled border state.

    A Senator is a representative of a state and should support the needs of that state.

    • #288
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    What has Kelly done to be actively awful?

    I could be wrong but I think he’s specifically talking about the way he votes given that he’s in a troubled border state.

    A Senator is a representative of a state and should support the needs of that state.

    Wouldn’t that be nice. The reality is a Senator is representative of his political party and represents the policy desires of that party.

    • #289
  20. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    What has Kelly done to be actively awful?

    I could be wrong but I think he’s specifically talking about the way he votes given that he’s in a troubled border state.

    A Senator is a representative of a state and should support the needs of that state.

    Wouldn’t that be nice. The reality is a Senator is representative of his political party and represents the policy desires of that party.

    Yes, that’s really bad. And I said should.

    • #290
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