Here’s a link to an excellent Andrew Sullivan article Conservatism And Extreme Inequality which discuss the challenge conservatism faces when responding to changed economic times. Part of it made sense. (Not just the part about ‘The good thing about having a blog is that I can go back and read my first impression …’)

I get a bit of stick now and then for being ‘centrist’ — not willing to full-heartedly commit (or pretend to commit) to either ‘side’ of the political spectrum but trying to see the value in both.

I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’ memoir Hitch-22 at present, and he recounts a phrase “He’s Tory but he’s got nothing to be Tory about.” It made me think of some of our own ‘political players’ who act as if politics is soccer and as if their team loyalty matters more than anything else, and for whom a ‘sledge’ or a nasty put-down of a political enemy (really, just ‘the other side’) is an achievement.

Andrew Sullivan makes the point that the partisanship obscures the political balance which, it seems to me as a ‘centrist’, is our best safeguard …

Conservatives, from Aristotle on, have always understood the central importance of the “middle way” and the “middle class” in sustaining a liberal democracy. Disraeli and Bismarck were the European pioneers of this conservatism. I think of Eisenhower in the last century as its great conservative defender in the US. Reagan was a necessary, even vital, correction, after liberal over-reach, but when that correction became dogma, and the right became fundamentalist about it, and the political fundamentalism was fused with a religious one, you saw the GOP degenerate into its Cheneyite and then Tea Party form: intellectually incoherent, angry beyond reason, and defined by cultural fear.

In an email Jon wrote discussing this subject, he expanded:

“Conservatives should be MORE worried about inequality than liberals, at least the kind of inequality we’re seeing now. It will wreck the legitimacy of the values they hold dear and discredit them for two generations (a narrative Romney is doing his formidable best to set up).”

Exactly. Romney personifies the kind of person who profited fantastically from the post-Reagan era and Ryan the small, tight brain that is still intellectually arrested in 1979. I know their abstract arguments and want to agree with them. But they are not in tune with these times – and are not responding to them. They have dogmas but no solutions. Obama, at least, is steering the ship a little further away from the rocks. That will have to do for now – it may be all anyone can do for now. And it’s what a real conservative would support.

Worth a read.

– P