Steven F. Hayward, writing in the Washington Post today, postulates that the conservative movement is currently brain dead.
It is a fashionable statement among those living in Washington, D.C. housed at think tanks. And I guess it is when think tannkers are pushing out columns on the lack of ideas rather than pushing out columns with ideas. Nonetheless, I generally agree with Steven Hayward that the movement needs to be reminded of its intellectual foundations. Hayward does, however, miss some critical points and flubs a few along the way.
I have a column on this in the Washington Examiner. My position is not that the tea party movement is brain dead, but that it reflects the conservative movement at an instinctual level.
What we see across the country are more and more people standing up realizing the direction we are headed is wrong. They are unorganized. They are unfocused. But they do not lack a “connection to a concrete ideology,” they just are not skilled or trained in the ideology.
There is no greater conservative sentiment than “stop.” Bernard Bailyn’s influential The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution laid out how conservative the American Revolution was.
The popular messages of “freedom” and “liberty” were not slogans of propaganda put forward by the 18th century equivalent of a 501(c)(4), but were very real and meaningful to the colonists on the street and in the fields.
While no one should expect a revolution against government from the tea parties, we should expect and hope for a revolution in conservative thought and an upheaval of at least the Republican Party as the tea party activists start putting down their protest signs and picking up campaign signs. Then, perhaps, they will move on to taking over their local political party.
“[T]he right must do better than merely invoking ‘markets’ and ‘liberty,’” Hayward writes. I agree. But I do not think it is the right per se invoking those words. Like the colonists in the late 1700s, it is the people invoking those words. The people have a fundamental understanding that those principles are good things and things on which the freedoms we enjoy in this country are premised.
You can read the whole thing here.