The New Burkeian

Reflections on the Revolution in Conservatism

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Widespread Panic II

The New Burkeian wishes to first pay respects to American conservative commentators and scholars that have established American conservatism as a force to be reckoned with in American politics.

I stand by my claim that the "widespread panic" over the President's Inaugural Address is a tragic reaction by neo-cons and traditional conservatives. They miss the point. If President Reagan had not shifted our realist response to communism with an idealistic policy of confrontation with an "evil empire", the quick collapse of communism would never have occured.

Consider William J. Bennet's response to the inaugural:

President George W. Bush's inaugural address pleased and inspired me. Talk about a return to, and affirmation of, first and best principles! This exhilarating testament to freedom reminded me of why I became a member of the Republican party 20 years ago, the Democrats having then abandoned the fields of human rights and national security.
Now consider Peggy Noonan's reponse to her original harsh words regarding the inaugural:

To declare that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, that we are embarking on the greatest crusade in the history of freedom, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation--seemed to me, and seems to me, rhetorical and emotional overreach of the most embarrassing sort.
With all due respect, Mrs. Noonan has worked hard to further the conservative cause in American politics, but she finds herself in the midst of opposition to President's Bush's Actionary statements despite her roots. She defends President Reagan's idealism:

For a half century our country faced a terrible foe. Some feared conflagration. Many of us who did not were convinced it would not happen because the United States was not evil, and the Soviet Union was not crazy. The Soviets didn't want war to achieve their ends, they wanted to achieve those ends without the expense and gamble of war. We rolled them back, bankrupted them, forced their collapse. And we did it in part through a change of policy in which Ronald Reagan declared: From here on in we tell the truth. He called the Soviet Union an evil empire because it was a) evil and b) an empire, and c) he judged a new and stark candor the way to begin progress. We'd already kissed Brezhnev; it didn't work. And it wasn't Reagan's way in any case.


Then she proceeds to attack President Bush's idealism as being "out of context". But was not that the reason President Bush reemphasized "that day of fire". He put all of his statements regarding the promotion and expansion of Freedom in that context. If anything, the threat posed by fear-societies, today, is even more immenent than the threat posed by a weakening USSR, then. Mrs. Noonan's statements are a detriment to the growth of the American conservative, as such.

The New Burkeian did not refer to the history of American idealism as a Phoenix for arbitrary reasons. It is the rebirth of that idealism under certain circumstances that has allowed us to reach the heights we have achieved. It will continue to identify America as an actual "Beacon of Liberty", in word, and in deed. The response from the "widespread panic" group reeks of the realism that appeased Hitler, prolonged the Cold War, and allowed for 911 to even occur. It is dangerous to ignore tyrrany and its inherent threat to Freedom worldwide. This is what "that day of fire" means to me. I believe this is what it meant for President Bush.

Victor Davis Hanson discusses this emerging battle between realists and idealists within American conservatives. It is an ill-defined debate that needs to be pushed to the forefront of discussion among American conservatives. The New Burkeian has always suggested that the idealists rally around the title, Actionary, in direct opposition to realist "neo-cons". Neo-conservatism is identified with so much negativity. Consider the opening to this recent review, on two anti-neoconservative books, from The Claremont Institute:

Bashing George W. Bush has been the thinking person's sport for four years now. Foreign policy intellectuals play their own version of the game: bashing neoconservatives. This is Bush-bashing with a Ph.D. It has proven surprisingly popular, attracting onto the field not only liberals but also some traditional conservatives and many conspiracy theorists, for whom the neocons are the new Trilateral Commission.

The review goes on to discuss the failure of liberal critics to even attack neo-conservatism effectively, but the negative implications of being labeled a neo-con still exist. I do not believe President Bush is a neo-con. I believe he is an idealist, an Actionary, that believes in the truth and universal nature of Freedom and Democracy

Natan Sharansky noted the emergence of a conservative idealist renewal in June of 2002, during a foreign policy address by President Bush. The State Department got ahold of this policy, and turned it into something unidentifiable from the failed policies prior to 911. This is why he wrote "The Case for Democracy". President Bush read Mr. Sharansky's book, and I think the President is truly trying to adhere to the policy of linkage. Our security is directly related to the Freedoms of people worldwide. Hence, "widespread panic".

At this moment in time, a bitter battle between realists and idealists will not hurt the American conservative. The idealists must secure their place in support of this Administration, though. Actionaries must never lose sight of the principles that have made America great. And we must fight for these principles to remain a cornerstone of American conservatism. The question remains: Will American conservatives stand by principle and the ideas of the Actionary (something I believe the American electorate voted for), or will we cater to the realists, and lose the mandate we have taken from American liberals?

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