- Jul 9, 2008
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/o...ks&_r=1&gwh=F11E1A3B4870EC9E7AD55B7BC3D09461&The kind of conservatism that Irving Kristol embodied was cheerful and at peace with modern America. The political heroes for this kind of conservatism, Kristol wrote, “tend to be T.R., F.D.R. and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.”
The crucial issue for the health of the nation, in this view, is not the size of government; it is the character of the people. Neocons opposed government programs that undermined personal responsibility and community cohesion, but they supported those programs that reinforced them or which had no effect.
Neocons put values at the center of their governing philosophy, but their social policy was neither morally laissez-faire like the libertarians nor explicitly religious like some social conservatives. Neocons mostly sought policies that would encourage self-discipline. “In almost every area of public concern, we are seeking to induce persons to act virtuously, whether as schoolchildren, applicants for public assistance, would-be lawbreakers, or voters and public officials,” James Q. Wilson wrote.
This strong government conservatism, Brooks finds, specifically lacking in the present GOP. This was what many had cheered for after the deflating Republican consensus in the mid-2000s. The Republican Party would be less influenced by those who thought that Americans liked big government solutions when they worked modestly or overwhelmingly well. To many neoconservatives, the antagonistic view of government intervention goes too far, and exaggerates measured reality.
In reality, this is perhaps a mirrored image of what E.J. Dionne once thought was going to happen on the liberal end. If neoconservatism started as a reevaluation of public policy and intellectual affairs of American liberalism, Dionne wanted a more skeptical wave of liberal policy wonks and intellectuals to correct the oversteps committed by neoconservatives over the past decade. Brooks seems to be arguing for a re-thinking as well. Brooks is clearly distancing neoconservatism from its recently infamous tendencies around defense and foreign policy. Brooks believes that concentrating on domestic and intellectual affairs and arming it with the neoconservative's penchant for skeptical, but active government action is equated with putting America on a healthier road map. This is perhaps his second attempt to remind readers that domestic policy neoconservatism is still alive. No longer found in the pages of Public Interest, it is now perhaps seen in its successor National Affairs, despite having the tendency to distance itself from Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's willingness to entertain liberal public policy. Brooks still found National Affairs to be the home for the tradition.
As for myself, I always thought reading Glazer, Moynihan, and Wilson did much to calm the passions of the moment, without completely deflating the potential for successful public policy. I would welcome a renewed domestic policy neoconservatism. Though, I too think that some of its more known figures would have tamed expectations for successful guidance of public policy.