A political event is in the conservative interest if it strengthens and stabilizes the country. At times that greater strength may be to the disadvantage of the conservative party or come at some (temporary) cost in conservative principles. But when the smoke of battle clears, conservatives will see, sometimes with surprise, that the nation is better for the change from a conservative standpoint....O'Sullivan also explains that actual political work also needs to be done to elect Republican (and Democratic) legislators who will mitigate against some of the executive tendencies of a President Obama that conservatives will disagree with.
It is important not to be starry-eyed about the conservative interest. It is rooted in prudence rather than any more idealistic virtue. It is an amoral basis of calculation, sometime allied with justice, sometimes indifferent to it, but always seeking social stability, as my two American examples will demonstrate.
The first one is the abandonment of Reconstruction after the Civil War in order to reintegrate the south into the United States. That object was achieved but at the cost of the U.S. allowing the installation of Jim Crow laws throughout the south....So the rights of black America were sacrificed for 70 years to the object of reintegrating the south in the federal republic. And whatever we may now think of that bargain, its object was achieved....
My second example is the reversal of the first: namely, the civil-rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. It was clear after the Second World War that the post-Reconstruction bargain was now itself unsustainable. Most Americans, including some in the south, recognized that the black Americans who had served alongside them in the Second World War were denied elementary rights in part of the country that they had fought to defend.... Jim Crow was reversed....
What does the conservative interest indicate on this occasion? It seems possible and even likely that a victory by Barack Obama would be the climax of this long policy of fully integrating black and minority America into the nation and putting the querulous politics of race behind us. As I have argued elsewhere, the mere fact of a President Obama would strengthen and stabilize America just as a Polish pope undermined Soviet rule in Eastern Europe. Black and minority America would be fully integrated into the nation.... Americans would feel better about themselves and the world would feel very differently about America. The conservative interest, as defined above, would therefore smile upon a vote for Obama.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
O'Sullivan Offers a Conservative Case for Obama
For my money, National Review's John O'Sullivan does a better job explaining the historical reasons for electing Obama than do the Historians for Obama. He does so by assuming that a more unified and stable nation is the bedrock on which American conservatism is built and that and Obama Presidency wouldn't be so bad for conservatives.
Labels: American History, Politics
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Intriguing. But you and I know that hyper-cultural conservatives will not vote for Obama on the basis that he's not ~actively~ anti-abortion. That's the same tact they've used on pro-lifers for years. You can't simply acknowledge that being for "safe and legal" does not mean you're for abortion as birth control: you have to actively oppose it somehow. This negative argument keeps the dog chasing the tail. - TL
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