Friday, November 7, 2008

What Would Reagan Do?

The Heritage Foundation has a link on its homepage asking this question alongside pictures of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. These are the heirs of Reagan according to Heritage and probably Fox News. They are generally entertainers and make a good living chronicling the foolishness of the liberal left. And thanks to liberals, there’s certainly a good living to be made in that pursuit. They are one of three general types of conservative.

You also have intellectual conservatives such as George Will who has the sort of classicist “Greatness of Rome” perspective. They love Edmund Burke as well. For them to be conservative is good because there is much that is good to conserve. Newness may excite the young but conservative ideas are proven and time-tested. This group tends to be agnostic and sometimes they gravitate to atheism.

Finally, there are the religious right conservatives to whom being conservative is sort of self-evident without the nuanced intellectual, philosophical, or historical underpinnings of the second group. For this group being Christian and being Conservative is sort of self-evident.

There are also the free-market economic conservatives. However, all of the groups basically share a general support of a capitalist, free market economic system at this time. There are only subtle differences in this area.

Reagan somehow managed to masterfully form a coalition with these seemingly disparate groups. If you think about, he achieved quite a feat. It’s probably telling that the WWRD on the Heritage site is a subtle twist on WWJD because Reagan is, for many contemporary American conservatives, what Jesus is to Christians.

I find myself somehow between the second and third group. The bombast of a Hannity is certainly entertaining. But I know that in the long run it’s hurting my cause in the same way that Jerry Falwell did in the last generation.

I am a conservative Presbyterian who believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God but I am not a literalist on everything I find in the Bible. I find things such as “Creationism” to be unnecessarily simplistic and at times, I hate to say, embarrassing. Yet, I don’t believe in Darwinism or that all we can know for certain is that which science reveals. The Bible is true and yet we would be foolish to not read the ongoing gains in human knowledge as giving us greater insight and clarity into what God is doing and has done in His creation.

In many ways the genius of Reagan is that he somehow enabled people to project their own views and dispositions on to him. People see him as they want to see him. This is actually very similar to Obama who is appealing for the same reason. It is very clear to me that in order for Conservatism to move forward we must break with Reagan. A return to Reagan will yield no better results for the conservative than a return to the New Deal would yield for the modern liberal. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “The times they have-a-chang-ed”.

No comments: