My favorite physicist Stephen Barr makes a good point about the problem with single-issue politics:

There is in conservatives a strong Romantic streak that loves the lost but righteous cause. They want to ride over the cliff with all flags flying. But that went out with the Jacobites—or should have. I hear some of my pro-life friends saying, “Why did we fight for the Republicans all these years? What have they done for us? Look at Souter.” They seem to be half in love with easeful defeat. “To hell with mere politics,” they seem to say, “we’d rather be right than win a meaningless election.”

2 thoughts on “

  1. I think there’s also a certain expectation among conservatives that we can’t win — or at least can’t win completely — which is actually one of the things that sets us apart from progressives. There’s no specific and achievable end state towards which we see ourselves as move — and very nearly at. Rather, conservative politics is a sort of endless rearguard action: minimize the damage to that which is good, strike down some of that which is bad, live to fight another day.

    Which is why, though I’m certainly realistic about the fact that the GOP and conservatism are not synonymous, all the intermediate defeats to not necessarily bother as much as some, or even surprise me.

    It seems to me that there are these days, living uneasily within the conservative movement, a lot of people who are temperamentally progressive, but think that they are conservative because they have the same ideals that conservatives do at this time in history.

  2. Agreed. In the back of my mind, too, is that old saying, and I can’t quite remember the source offhand (whether it’s Lao Tzu or one of the Church Fathers), but it basically says that in order for evil to succeed, it is only necessary that good men do nothing.

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