Monday, January 18, 2010

Recommended Reading

Browsing through the Political Science section of a bookstore, one might be forgiven for assuming that a book with the provocative title, The Death of Conservatism, would be yet another liberal polemic. Such an assumption would be wrong.

What author Sam Tanenhaus laments is the death of classic enlightened conservatism (as preached by Burke and Disraeli, its ideological progenitors) at the hands of present-day movement conservatives, aka the New Right.

Progressive centrists like your reporter (and, I believe, President Obama) would heartily agree with Tanenhaus's contention that: "Most of us are liberal and conservative: we cling to the past in some ways, push forward into the future in others, and seek to reconcile our most cherished notions and beliefs with the demands of unanticipated events. Politics is the public expression of this drama...".

Some might find that statement a squishy panglossianism, but it illuminates a central truth of human nature, and would be equally at home in the Enlightenment writings of Rousseau and the republican councils of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

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