The Next Right has posted a thoughtful essay that seeks to put the current intra-conservative debates into perspective. The whole thing is a worthwhile read, but the conclusion especially is interesting:
Conservatives, thankfully, are nowhere near as afflicted by tunnel-vision, as the current debates on the Right show. However, it is essential that, being conservative, we remember that these debates were not settled in 1964 or 1980 and are not going to be settled in 2008, 2012 or any other year. These debates are timeless elements of the American conservative tradition, and will probably never be resolved completely. However, another timeless element which we must also be careful not to forget is the fact that these debates have always ended with an affirmation of what we have in common, and for my part, I hope that such an affirmation will be short in coming, rather than preceded by eons of squabbles and mutual recrimination.
Back in my poli sci-geeky college days, my friends and I could jokingly imagine at our alma mater a collection of statues representing the iconic intellectual figures of the modern conservative movement: paleoconservative Russell Kirk, libertarian Ludwig von Mises, and classical neoconservative Leo Strauss. We pondered the unlikelihood that the three figures could co-exist peacefully, and wondered whether the brass figures would break out in heated debate.
But then came the realization that academic debates alone can’t nor shouldn’t divide a political coalition that shared such broadly common interests. I too am hopeful that the post-election debates will continue to be resolved “with an affirmation of what we have in common”. It’s a much better approach than trying to ridicule, belittle, and purge social conservatives (or any of the branches – social conservatives just seem to be the whipping children of the day for many) from the movement and relegate them to the dark, dim corners of the political tent.
Educate, listen, debate, and ultimately, urge humility. But ultimately it will be a futile effort if the broader political coalition neglects a renewed commitment to limited government, personal responsibility, and fiscal conservatism.