Conservative Principles vs. Conservative Practices: A Continuing Discussion

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There was an interesting exchange on my Facebook page following my last post. I am re-posting it this afternoon because I think it opens some important points and may serve as a guide to understand more deliberately this week’s Republican National Convention. The dialogue reveals alternative positions on conservative politics and the way progressives engage with conservative thought and practice. I think it is an interesting beginning of a discussion beyond partisan intellectual gated communities, as Gary Alan Fine has called for in these pages. I welcome the continuation of the discussion here, hope it illuminates theoretical and pressing practical questions . -Jeff

I opened on Facebook by quoting a central summary of the post. The irony: “Ryan’s nomination, I believe, assures the re-election of President Obama. The basis of my belief is a judgment that Americans generally are guided by a conservative insight, an American suspicion of ideological thought. Conservative insight defeats the conservative ticket.” And then a debate followed.

Harrison Tesoura Schultz: Would you say that the conservatives have become too extreme for most people to believe that they’re still actually ‘conservatives?’

Alvino-Mario Fantini ‎@Harrison: What I always want to know is: “too extreme” in reference to what? Public opinion? (It seems to shift.) In comparison to conventional wisdom? (It, too, seems to change over the centuries.) The problem, I would suggest, is not that conservatives have become too extreme for people but that basic conservative ideas and principles are no longer known or understood, and increasingly considered irrelevant.

Jeffrey Goldfarb: Extremism in defense of liberty is a vice and it is not conservative. So, I think you are both right. People who call themselves conservatives are often not, rather they are right wing ideologues. Too much . . .

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