Monday, January 14, 2013

"Is There a Conservative Tradition in America?"

The American Conservative's Stephen M. Klugewiz reminds us that "faux conservatives look back at American history to find their heroes and precursors, therefore, they tend to choose the Hamiltons, Jacksons, Lincolns, and TRs, wrongly equating nationalist ideology and rhetoric with patriotism, and patriotism with conservatism" — Better Jeffersonians Than Jefferson.

The author then notes that "those contemporary conservatives who understand the importance of limits on government power in the domestic sphere usually err when looking at the past for heroes, being seduced, for example, by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, whose flowery utterances in favor of states rights’ against federal power cloud the radicalism of his social thought."

Click on the link to find an answer to Mr. Klugewiz's question, posed in the title of this post.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Would have been better if they would have followed Kirk's insight that the conservative tradition is not found within a particular ideology, but beyond it. Were there conservative Jeffersonians? Yes (although Jefferson himself was no conservative but rather a radical in theory and a centralist in practice). Were there Federalists/Whigs/Republicans who were conservatives. Yes, and as Russell Kirk pointed out, the Federalists were the true conservative party during the Founding and early Republic, and the Sage of Mecosta numbered Lincoln among the conservatives as well.

January 16, 2013 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

With all due respect to the Sage of Mecosta (and of Spokane), Abe was about as "conservative" as the man whose visage appears on the banner he shares in this still from the 80's miniseries "Amerika:"

January 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Lincoln's constitutional theory certainly was conservative. He was far from the kind of radical that Jefferson or any of the Confederates were. If one looks at what the Jeffersonians who ran the Confederacy built, it was almost exactly the kind of the government that Jefferson himself favored in practice: a one-party totalitarian police state that was the closest thing to a pure command and control economy that the world had ever seen up to that point. Southern historian William C. Davis wrote a fantastic book about what the CSA was really like, titled Look Away. Necessary reading to understand what was really happening in the Civil War. The party of liberty was Lincoln's party.

January 17, 2013 at 12:26 AM  

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