What Is the Future of Conservatism?

"What Is the Future of Conservatism?," Commentary Magazine, January 2013.


It’s possible to be too concerned with the future–or to be judged too concerned–as conservatives discovered in the election of 2012. In winning, liberals paid almost no attention to impending trouble in the economy, in society, abroad, in anything or anywhere. Under President Obama’s leadership, they confined themselves to pointing out that we, the liberals and Democrats, the party of the people, are on your side. Whatever happens, we will do better for you than the conservatives will.

Who are “we” in the party of the people? The answer is, anybody who wants to be. The liberals belong to the party of inclusiveness, frowning on no one except those who frown. These are the conservatives. The conservatives are the party of the common good, and are therefore concerned with the future of the country. They are, speaking generally, the responsible party, and because they are responsible, they are obliged to be judgmental. They must uphold the virtues of the more responsible among us, i.e., the few versus the many. They hope to persuade the many, for example, by promoting the entrepreneurial talents of small businessmen rather than corporations. But however inoffensive they try to be, they can be made to appear exclusive.

Commentary Magazine