Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Novel Idea

Pundits of all stripes keep lamenting the death of intellectual conservatism, as the brainier Right is reportedly "retreating and struggling to come up with new ideas."

I think those conservatives who spent the past eight years as apologists for Christian Big Government are indeed struggling to find some sort of fiscal credibility, but that hardly diminishes the intellectual power of the ideas espoused by Friedman, Hayek, Buckley, Goldwater, et al. of generations past. Their ideas were, are, and will continue to be sound in reasoning and powerful in practice. The problem is the people who were elected to implement those ideas failed miserably in living up to the standards laid out in the countless works of free market capitalism and conservative governance.

But if you need an idea that will engage the attention-deficient masses that sums up principled conservatism, may I humbly suggest:

Leave me the hell alone.

I know this hasn't the slightest chance of being heeded right now, but it's really the basic principle undergirding classical liberalism, the intellectual foundation of the Right: you know, that freedom thing. The fact that the Right is expected to develop "new" ideas implies that it needs to come up with some sort of grandiose plan of action--some bold legislation that will transform our current circumstance into a new era of peace, wealth, and harmony--with the explicit understanding that government is both responsible and capable of such miraculous works-of-wonder is misguided fantasy.

Good ideas don't lose their relevance because the advice they contain isn't followed. It's sheer stupidity, then, to revert to the old, discredited ways of thinking--increasingly centralizing economic control, for one--and then calling those ideas "new" or "progressive" with the expectation that they will work this time.

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