Crisis of Conservatism? (More a Ramble Than a Rant)

The Confusion

There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what is a conservative, and there are many conservatives asking themselves what is happening to conservative politicians. Are political conservatives becoming more concerned with the vote than conservative values. What role is religion playing in conservative thought etc… Some staunch conservatives are questioning their leaders loyalty to conservative ideals.


Many conservatives in Canada lament the political passing of conservatives like Joe Clark and John Diefenbacher. Canadian politicians seem to be very wishy washy about their political affiliations and to some degree that might be good if it was because they look at each issue separate from the party line. However this is not the case. The worry is that conservatives like most politicians of any stripes, have become more concerned with the vote than the ideals. Watching Belinda Stronach walk to one side of the house while David Emerson within a year (I think) would pass going the other way, leaves many Canadians with a real nasty taste in their political mouths. Like I said in the last posting Canadian conservatives seem to be small c conservatives by world standards but this might change if they ever get a majority government. Looking at the last Ipsos poll that is not going to happen anytime soon, even with the decline in trust of the liberal party Canadians are still too attached to the liberal mechanisms created by liberalism if not the liberal party in Canada (like medicare).


In the US many conservatives do not think George W Bush is a conservative and I suspect they may be right. Two issues that seem to make GWB a anomaly in the conservative picture are his attitude to foreign wars and his tendency to create big government. (I am sure 49erdweet can help elaborate on this point of view)

A Pundit Worth listening To

Arnold Kling an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, writing in TCSdaily a true conservative website, laments the fact that most conservatives don’t really know what it is to be conservative and George W Bush’s conservatives are failing the test of what it is to be conservative.

Kling Biographical Note

Kling holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an economist with the Federal Reserve Board and later with Freddie Mac. In 1994, he founded, one of the first commercial sites on the World Wide Web. After Homefair was sold, he wrote “Under the Radar: Starting Your Net Business Without Venture Capital,” published by Perseus in 2001. He has also written “Learning Economics,” a collection of essays on economic issues. Kling ‘s personal web site is His blog (with Bryan Caplan) is at He teaches high school on a volunteer basis near his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is married, with three daughters.

The Question

For comparison sake I would like to know what people think of Bush and Harper as conservatives which one fulfills the moniker better?

4 thoughts on “Crisis of Conservatism? (More a Ramble Than a Rant)

  1. bill, I read Kling’s piece and fyi tallied 5 “yes” and 1 “push” when I took his quiz. What was you’re score?

    From what I can see Harper is more truly “conservative” than Bush, but I suspect opinion’s along this line are sort of ‘in the eye of the beholder’-like.

    What is truly disgusting to me is that not only did my faux-conservative president pull the wool over mine (and other’s) eyes, but that far too many of the repub congressmen and senators during the last two terms morphed themselvs into identical ‘clones’ of the democrats across the aisle from them during the five or six previous terms. That is, they were more interested in ‘pork’ and being re-elected, than in truly serving their country. Absolutely mind-boggling and disgusting.

  2. 1.5

    The “.5” is because I think that The government we have is often better than the people that make it up. It is not the system that is flawed but the way it is put to use. Like the Bible we tend to interpret it as it fits our own flawed nature.

    I am with Stephen that the definition of conservativism is important when looking at GWB. He is socially conservative but not necessarily politically conservative.

  3. We need to find a way to weed out the power for power’s sake politicians like Bush and his cronies and (sorry to bash a liberal here)the Paul Martins of this world.

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