Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spotting Conservatives: A Field Guide

By David Bozeman

The defining traits of conservative leadership are too varied and detailed for this limited space. But as the GOP's 2012 nominating process continues, a few pertinent points bear further examination, lest the voters be fooled by spin-meisters and charlatans.

Pertinent point #1 is that conservatism and ego don't really mix.
Now, one could well argue that without a moderate degree of ego, most ballots would be empty come election time. Still, voters must discern between candidates who want to do important things and those who want to be important people.
Speaker Newt Gingrich may well embody many traits of the former, but conservatism is wedded to a belief that traditional institutions (social mores, religion, family, the free market, etc.) are the best checks on the foibles and limitations of human nature. We, ourselves, don't really cures society's ills, our founding values do.
This talk about a "safety trampoline" (as opposed to Governor Romney's notion of a mere safety "net") bears further scrutiny. Sounds a bit grandiose for the conservative ideology most of us know. As do neighborhood boards to review amnesty applications from illegal immigrants. As does the Speaker's now infamous Post-it note to himself twenty years ago: "Gingrich -- primary mission. Advocate of civilization. Definer of civilization. Teacher of the rules of civilization."

Definer? Gingrich resembles one of his political idols, Teddy Roosevelt, who is inexplicably revered by many conservatives. Another colossal ego, his machismo and bluster are certainly a welcome contrast to the metro-sexualized, blow-dried male image of today. His admonition against hyphenated Americanism (we're either Americans or we're not, he basically said) still inspires today as much as ever, but can you say “progressive”?
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