Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Re-engage, elevate...

Scott Payne has an interesting piece up on community, in which he discusses one direction he'd like to see conservatives take their politics (which gets into the Sam's Club Republican vein a little)
I would like to wax theoretical about the GOP and conservatives more broadly moving to become the party and movement that goes about reengaging and reinvigorating those considerable segments of the population who feel utterly disenfranchised. When I suggest that kind of re-engagement I mean it in more than just the economic fashion that Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat suggest in their book Grand New Party. I mean a re-engagement in the first principles of democracy that don’t necessarily swing into simply populist majority rules democracy, but the intellectual and emotional re-engagement in the ongoing discussion about what the country does and how it goes about doing it. I would like to wax optimistic about this as the responsible direction for American conservatism moving into the future, but I’m not optimistic.
Neither am I, at least not any time soon. I used to be a hawk until I began to realize the many ways in which our aggressive foreign policy has made governing here at home nearly impossible. From there I moved in the ideological direction of the paleo and crunchy cons, who seemed to fit my style of community-building, strong-families, etc. as well as my hunger for real, intellectual discussion. Just read Daniel Larison's work and then head over and read Michelle Malkin and you see the difference in tone and depth. Read The American Conservative and then go read some of the nonsense over at Pajamas Media. Read Ross Douthat and then read Charles Johnson.

This isn't to say we don't need hawks. They can, at times, push through the inertia that builds up around the school of realism.

In any case, I stray from my point. Which is....

Too much focus has been on foreign affairs these last eight years. Too much time has been spent, too much money, worrying about terror and fighting the "war" on said tactic and on its residuals Iraq, Afghanistan, et al. Conservatives have forgotten that governance extends to the home front, and that they are in a unique position to, as Scott says, re-engage Americans who feel left out. Isn't this in a sense exactly what Obama has done?

Now, as I said, I'm not optimistic, but I am heartened by the great discussion going on at least in the blogosphere--or should I say at least in some corners of the blogosphere (which is mostly populated by less-than-intellectual discussion) which seems quite intent on forging something better, more rational, more substantive...

Scott writes,
Not only do blogs have the ability to generate meaningful communities that might not have previously existed, but those communities then might be spurred to meaninginful action that could very well have wide ranging impacts.
Exactly. This has been my feeling regarding the community-building potential of blogs for some time. There is always a give and take between tradition and technology. We always put our traditions, our communities, our relationships somewhat at risk when we adopt new technologies. Our advancements, our new tools, our new infrastructures, at once open up new realms of possibility and shut down old ones. The neighborhood was never the same after the advent of the car, nor were towns after the building of the national interstate highway system. We become slowly more encapsulated within our gadgets--connected and apart.

Yet blogging, at its best, does just the reverse in a sense, too. It is no replacement for actual communitites, but it can bring together like minds who are passionate about community and help them make a difference. It can elevate the discussion.

That is what we need. Elevation...