Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Conservatives" and War

On August 31, 2006, prior to the election that put the Democrats back in control of Congress, Joseph Sobran wrote an article which is good to review in 2008. Sobran is a true conservative. Here is what he wrote two years ago:


Yes, I’m disillusioned with the GOP. It was bad enough when I thought they were unprincipled. Now, however, it’s worse, because they do have a principle after all: war.

This Bush administration has managed to pervert the meaning of conservatism: in most Americans’ minds, for the next generation, the word will mean, above all, militarism.

Quite a change from the days when Democrats wanted war on fascism and Republicans were accused of “isolationism” for preferring peace. Does anyone remember Robert Taft?

Today’s blowhard conservatives have no reservations about it. For these right-wingers, the Iraq warnot the Constitution, government spending, or abortion — is the defining issue dividing liberals and conservatives.

They even pardon liberal Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger (as well as the liberal Democrat Joe Lieberman) for supporting abortion and homosexual rights, as long as they support the war. That is, they count a liberal as a conservative, provided only that he’s for this war.

Being the most devastating of human activities, war would seem to be at the opposite pole from conserving anything. It’s a grotesque accident of history that it should have acquired even a verbal association with the philosophy of conservatism.

Conservatism is a more or less articulate sense of normality, whereas liberalism has been described (by G.K. Chesterton) as “the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal.” Conservatism can tolerate many abnormal things that can’t be eliminated from human society, but it doesn’t call them “rights” or confuse them with normal things. And, after all, few things are more abnormal than war.

So today’s alleged conservatives (and especially the misnamed “neoconservatives”) are aberrations. They delight in destruction; they are full of enthusiasm for violent and radical action; they lack the ironic and skeptical attitude of real conservatives, the prudent sense that precipitate acts bring “unintended consequences.”

The presidency of George W. Bush has been one long object lesson in unintended consequences. It’s amusing to recall that his father was kidded for using the phrase wouldn’t be prudent, an expression the son could profitably adopt.

Until the Republicans learn that peace is normal, they will deserve defeat and infamy.


No conservative should actively vote for a Democrat. But many conservatives fear that if they vote for a true conservative Libertarian, a Democrat might be elected as a result.

This unintended result would in fact be very, very good. This is actually an important reason why conservatives should vote for a Libertarian.

If a powerful Republican incumbent were to lose his office because conservatives voted for a Libertarian, it would be well-publicized that the Libertarian caused the defeat of the Republican, not that the Democrat actually won popular support. (Sure, the Democrats would try their best to spin the results, but the election results math is inflexible.)

A Congressman is only elected for a two-year term. Then he faces the voters once again. Conservatives need to think well beyond the next two years. The defeat of a powerful Republican because of large numbers of Libertarian votes will set in motion political trends which will last for decades.

If you and your neighbors vote for a true conservative Libertarian, the election of a Democrat and the defeat of a Republican who is not a true conservative will be the most important and promising political event of this upcoming election.

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