Can Conservatism Rule?

Anti-government conservatism is ascendent. The Tea Party is the most significant social movement since the anti-war movement of the late sixties. Republicans are poised to take back the Senate in 2012 and may succeed in taking back the White House.<br />

What is a serious conservative to do? Recognize that there are underlying ideological barriers between Left and Right. But also know that American political culture will not allow one side to vanquish the other. That means the entitlement state is here to stay. Conservatives need to repudiate starve-the-beastism and seek pro-family tax policies to improve social cohesion. They must get right on environmental issues by pursuing conservative, non-coercive policies. And they must understand that some things, such as infrastructure and innovation, truly are public goods.

Conservatives who acknowledge that they cannot dismantle the welfare state must be met by liberals who acknowledge they cannot endlessly expand it. "Before the two camps can agree to an agenda truly in the national interest," Hayward writes in "Modernizing Conservatism", "liberals and conservatives must first reform themselves."

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