No Home For True Conservatives

No Home For True Conservatives


Leonard Zwelling

Many of my friends think I am a liberal because I tend to vote Democratic (but not always) and abhor Donald Trump.

In this conversational essay from The New York Times on January 15, Bret Stephens and David Brooks, two columnists with whom my opinions often align, bemoan the fact that they too have nowhere to go any longer now that the GOP has been captured by the Trumpers and the even loonier fringe elements that include the likes of Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. That group of twenty representatives to whom Kevin McCarthy sold his soul includes Gaetz and Greene and a number of other truly borderline conservatives who seem to feel their role is to disrupt via protracted investigation, rather than progress via legislation.

Conservatives in both parties have no home any longer. Even Nixon and Reagan would have a tough time fitting into today’s GOP and Scoop Jackson and even Bill Clinton might find the majority of the Democrats would not line up with their views.

I count myself in the latter group, the old-time conservative Democrats because my social outlook is more Democratic than Republican (pro-choice, anti-guns, no prayer in school) and the rest of my views tend toward the traditional Republican values of fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, strong defense, and measured international engagements. Mr. Brooks, Mr. Stephens, and I have no place to land.

This is also true in corporate and academic America.

I understand affirmative action and laud those who have taken advantage of the opportunities this afforded them, but also see the point of view of those going before the Supreme Court and the City of New York who insist that merit-based admission to prestigious high schools, colleges, and post-graduate schools is still the best way for the country to progress. I get the push and pull of the use of college admissions to both right past wrongs and give the most accomplished the most access to graduation. It’s always going to be a struggle, but perhaps affirmative action is functionally excluding some of the best among us from elite schools in a fashion analogous to what quotas did to Jews in the 1940s and 1950s.

Then there’s the whole diversity, equity and inclusion movement that has, unfortunately, at times left us with leadership that may be woke, but is also sleepy. This wokeness has burrowed itself into academia so deeply that people are fired for offending someone even if they gave trigger warnings to the overly sensitive. As this blog has stated previously, the freedom to offend must be protected. There would be few comedians without offending someone and Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, and Don Rickles are worth toughening our skins a bit and being less sensitive. To fire a teacher for showing an image of the prophet Muhammed despite her having given ample warning to those who might be offended is absurd.

As I have grown older, I find myself, like Mr. Brooks and Mr. Stephens, feeling a little lost in trying to find candidates to support and platforms to back. My guess is that the party that can articulate a way forward for the economy, in foreign affairs, and in social issues that is both level-headed and conservative will take the White House and the Congress in 2024.

America is still a right of center country. But it is not a far-right of center country. If, as expected, the minority among the House Republicans set an agenda that wastes government resources and people’s time and patience, and if President Biden does the right thing and steps aside, then there’s a chance that we will get two candidates representative of the American people united in economic vision, but divided on social issues. Obama vs. McCain was like that. Will it ever happen again?

The country needs to recover from Trump and Biden’s shenanigans with top secret documents. These special counsel- led investigations give us the perfect way to be rid of both of the candidates from 2020.

We need a fresh start in many venues in politics, in business, and in academia. Getting rid of the current inadequate woke leadership would be a great start.

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