Conservatives vs. conservatism

Attacking conservatism, Greg Anrig writes:

I think it’s fair to equate Heritage with the conservative movement…the whole unitary executive concept about executive power began to be
formulated in the Reagan Justice Department.  Those guys were pretty
much all conservatives, wouldn’t you say, Tyler?

I find the clarity here extraordinary, namely how much Anrig focuses upon labeled individuals and groups of individuals.  Conservatism (yes, the concept, truly understood, includes some well-known liberals) stresses that institutions and ideas are what matter, not which group of people is in power.  When institutions are bad, and the general tenor of public ideas is off base or depraved, it is not better to be governed by "conservatives," and arguably it is worse.  Of course conservatives, once they achieve power, will view political matters in terms of people just as Anrig does ("we can’t let those guys back into Treasury"), if only because natural political selection eliminates those conservatives who do not. 

That is one reason why conservatives so often act against conservative ideas, and why conservative politicians so often lie.  In fact the better a conservative politician sounds to conservative listeners, the more inconsistent those ideas will be with the actual process of governing.

If you are a conservative looking to improve the world, one option is to improve the quality of religion in society.  You should consider politics an inherently corrupting activity for conservative ideas; yet this fact, taken alone, does not prove it is better to follow left-wing ideas.

Addendum: Here is a link to Matt and Ezra on same.


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