Dean Clough

April 17, 2021

Portico Darwin: A Conservative Replies

As you'd imagine, it is extremely gratifying (not to mention humbling) when something you write motivates someone to thoughtfully respond.  And when that someone is as brilliant as the young man that wrote this is, well, let's just say I'm very happy this morning.   But also smarter, from having read his reply to my Calling on Republicans post.  

The author wishes to remain anonymous.  I hope everyone will read this completely and take time to consider the author's wise perspective.  Thank you, Anonymous.

I've enjoyed reading the blog. It is certainly entertaining and I hope you are having fun with the writing and interactions it is creating.

I tend towards conservatism but would certainly not call myself a Republican. I agree the Republican party identity is fragmented and without clear direction on what it stands for.  My topic to address is the distinction between republicans and conservatives. Conservatism is a longer lasting principle than republicanism.  Political party stances on issue are more fickle and geared primarily towards creating a policy platform that will gather the largest number of voters to put people in office. Progressivism/conservatism is as old as the hills and will continue to be the necessary balance for society to strike for generations to come. My view on conservatism is as follows.

Conservatism is by and large resistance to change, skepticism of new paradigms. If looked at from a daoist (sic) perspective, conservatives represent order and stability and progressives represent the ying to the yang, chaos. Chaos brings about change that keeps a society from going stale like the fire that rejuvenates the forest for future growth. 

A good American example to consider conservatism/progressivism is the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in US history. Everyone has probably heard or used a southern accent drawl at some point in their life to impersonate a simple minded person (Forrest Gump), I know I have. Why do we associate a southern drawl with lower-level thinking? It is a hold-over from the Civil War mocking those who were unwilling to give up their system of livelihood, a slavery based economy, for a more humane technological society. Looking back with hindsight, it is now plain to see that those willing to fight for the preservation of a system based on "Wringing their bread from the sweat of another man's face" were dated in thinking and that it was good for society to move beyond that point of history. When a simpleton is impersonated with a southern accent, we are referring to a shared societal experience of someone that holds onto what they know/believe for all dear life even if that thought/belief is a poor premise. In the Civil War, Republicans were progressives and the Confederacy represented conservatism and order. Had Republicans of the day been more conservative, perhaps the deadliest conflict in US history could have been delayed/avoided. Had Republicans been less conservative, war may have been subverted but slavery may have drudged on as an institution for decades longer. It is clear to see how conservatism/progressivism changes for political parties over time as 2020 republicans would now be thought to be more closely aligned with the confederate party of 1860 than 2020 progressives despite 1860 Republicans waging a staggering war against the Confederacy. 

So why advocate for conservatism, regardless of political party x, y, z? What is the value of holding onto old ideas like slavery, scientific skepticism, discriminatory practices? Conservatism is the preservation of the aspects of society that brought us to the current moment for better or worse. That is not always a good thing (slavery example) too much conservatism prevents progress from taking place However, conservatism is sorely needed to maintain a long-lasting, functional society, even with its noticeable historical errors. Our society is based more or less on 4000 years of evolved/refined Judeo/Christian principles. Over that course of time, life has gotten better for most people within that society. Humans live longer, people in our society largely don't worry if they will eat a dinner tonight, we enjoy personal liberty, etc. Conservatives have an appreciation for how far society has progressed to the current state, and realize that just because an idea/principle or old does not mean that it is dated (10 commandments, biblical teachings, defense of constitutional principles, etc.). Conservatives recognize change does not always result in progress. Where progressives see an opportunity to make something better, conservatives see how that could go wrong and question if that will make society better. Progressives campaign on "Change" and "We can do better". Conservatives question change for the sake of change and anticipate the unintended consequences of change. Absence of conservatism is replete with terrible consequences for societies (20th century Europe, Russian Revolution, Chinese Communist Revolution, Latin American revolutions)..

"Diamond Dean" is the epitome of progressive ideals. It is the hope and wish for a better future, to not be content with the current state. Those are all good qualities to have. The counter balance to that is gratitude, to be thankful for what you have and not despair for what you do not.  I am sure you have found incorporation of gratitude to balance the diamond gaze in your eyes. This does not necessarily get at your ask for "Republican policy" but I think it is more important to recognize the role conservatives/progressives have in society regardless of their identified political party of the time.