Liberals Who Pine for Conservatives

As a lib­er­al who grew up with, works with, and lives with great peo­ple who are con­ser­v­a­tives, this piece by the Wash­ing­ton Post’s E.J. Dionne, Jr. speaks vol­umes about how I feel about them. Which is that con­ser­v­a­tive voic­es are an impor­tant par­ty of a pro­gres­sive soci­ety. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as Dionne points out, we haven’t seen that kind of con­ser­v­a­tive in the past year when dis­cussing the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion or health care reform:

Many who call them­selves con­ser­v­a­tives pro­pose to cast aside even gov­ern­ment pro­grams that have stood the test of time. They seem to imag­ine a world in which gov­ern­ment with­ers away, a phrase that comes from Friedrich Engels, not Buck­ley. Or they tie them­selves up in unruly con­tra­dic­tions, declar­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly that they are dead-set against gov­ern­ment-run health care and pas­sion­ate defend­ers of Medicare.

And while mod­ern con­ser­vatism has usu­al­ly sup­port­ed the mar­ket against the state, its old­est and most durable brand under­stood that the mar­ket was an imper­fect instru­ment. True con­ser­v­a­tives may give “two cheers for cap­i­tal­ism,” as Irv­ing Kris­tol put it in the title of one of his books, but nev­er three.

The world and this coun­try des­per­ate­ly needs both lib­er­als and con­ser­v­a­tives, but those who tru­ly cham­pi­on those val­ues and can peace­ful­ly and con­struc­tive­ly reach a com­pro­mise.