Certainly not in the sense that a lot of people in the GOP mean it and trust me, you have no idea how happy that makes me. Of course, I’m not a liberal either, I’m even more happy of that because I find virtually nothing worthwhile on the liberal left, at least for the reasons they hold their positions. And libertarian? In some ways, but certainly not in the quasi-religious natural rights/natural law way, I find those things utterly ridiculous. Mostly, I’m only “libertarian” insofar as it agrees with my conservative values and where it doesn’t, I’m not.
But every time I say I’m conservative, people assume, wrongly, that I hold all of the views of the far religious right GOP machine. Nothing could be further from the truth. So I went looking for a better term, delving into the various and sundry schools of conservatism and came across fusionism, popularized by Frank Meyer, held by William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and others. It isn’t a perfect fit, in fact, I’d feel it necessary to tack “secular” onto it to make it clear that I do not respect any religious or quasi-religious views, period. If your position is held on faith, keep it away from me.
Murray Rothbard, writing in Ramparts, explained where the modern neo-conservative movement was going wrong, “a new, younger generation of rightists, of “conservatives,” . . . who thought that the real problem of the modern world was nothing so ideological as the state vs. individual liberty or government intervention vs. the free market; the real problem, they declared, was the preservation of tradition, order, Christianity and good manners against the modern sins of reason, license, atheism and boorishness.” He added that we had allowed ourselves “to sacrifice the American ideals of peace and freedom and anti-colonialism on the altar of a crusade to kill communists throughout the world; we have surrendered the libertarian birthright into the hands of those who yearn to restore the Golden Age of the Holy Inquisition. It is about time that we wake up and rise up to restore our heritage.”
That certainly sounds like the modern GOP, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I think Reagan fell into that with his abject hatred of the commies, adding almost $2 trillion to the national debt as he fought to outspend Russia. Having a higher limit on your credit cards does not prove your political ideology superior, sorry.
And of course, I’ve pointed out before how Barry Goldwater called the modern trend of the Republican Party long before it came to pass. “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
So am I a secular fusionist conservative? Maybe. But if I said that, nobody would have the slightest clue what it means. But I’m going to go grab Frank Meyer’s “In Defense of Freedom” to see how much I agree with it. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but I’ll be sure to do a review here once I’m done. I’m sure that my views will differ in significant ways. They seem to do so a lot, don’t they?