First off, let me apologize for not blogging lately. After 1,208 entries, I, as the self-help people say, "felt the need" to pause and reflect. The Brooks vs. Hayward "dispute" is actually evidence to me that we conservatives all need to do that.
I was ask to serve as a referee: Who's more right--Brooks or Hayward? My own view is neither is all that right, but they both make some good points.
I've never liked either Beck or Limbaugh. But I certainly agree that they both fail more than ever in being stylish or contemporary, which is certainly the job of political entertainers. They reflect more than cause a conservatism that's grown old and lame. Their demographic is old and white and male, like Brooks and Hayward and me. Young conservatives--and there are some--view their shows with contempt. So I'm not for shutting them down, simply because I'm all for mobilizing those they're capable of mobilizing But their influence will continue to become increasingly marginal.
In ordinary politics, the Republicans have no leaders because they have no leaders. Enlightened statesmen, I read somewhere, will not always be at the helm, and they sure as hell aren't now. One reason, of course, is that two consecutive thumpings meant that virtually no new Republican blood was introduced into Congress. With a couple of noble exceptions, the Republicans in Congress are or act old and lame
There are, in fact, good conservative intellectuals around; they just aren't writing best sellers or gaining air time. First among these is probably Yuval Levin, who's quite an original thinker unreducible to an ordinary Straussian or an ordinary Kassian. And he knows his public policy stuff better than anyone. His journal NATIONAL AFFAIRS shows a lot of promise, although the first issue wasn't off the charts on the freshness-meter. We have to admit that the "Front Porchers" under the leadership of "Dr. Pat" Deneen have a lot to offer, although no one has mocked their excesses more than ME. And there's our own Ivan the K and "postmodern conservatives" like him. Jim Ceaser is far from young and beautiful, but he remains stylish and contemporary. I could go on.
In general, I wonder whether the Founders=Locke=good and the Progressives=Germans=bad narrative has run its course or needs a lot of supplementing at this point. A lot of younger conservatives see that part of our problem today is our promiscuous libertinism, and that it might be caused by our inability to keep Locke (or the spirit of calculation, contract, and consent) in a "Locke box." Increasingly, all of life is being turned over to a self-indulgent view of "autonomy," and that really does erode both a proper understanding of love and a manly spirit of self-government. I agree with Steve that markets and "liberty" aren't enough, which means we have to engage in a criticism of the "progressivism" that understands being human or being free as an endless movement away from nature toward nothing in particular.
"Progressivism" isn't an alien to "classical liberalism" as we sometimes want to say, and there is a proto-historicist dimension to Locke (as Michael Zuckert shows). I could go on and probably will later. But my view is our problem is that our popularizing conservatives, such as Beck, are too infused with the spirit of Tom Paine and not enough with the Tocquevillian moderation of, say, Irving Kristol or Bill Buckley or even "classic" George Will. Now I already know that someone's going to object against Tocqueville that we don't need the aid from some foreigner who doesn't even understand the Declaration of Independence. So I'll remind you that so many of the intellectuals Steve and David admire were influenced by Leo Strauss (a German!), who said very little about the Declaration and even about America.