ON-Lion Letter

"In recent years, conservatives have fallen into a thoroughly oppositional mind-set in American politics," begins Bradley Prize recipient Yuval Levin's lead article in the Spring 2015 Modern Age.  "We have had good reasons for doing so.  The agenda of the Obama administration has frequently been moved by a political philosophy hostile to what conservatives seek to defend:  ordered individual and economic liberty, cultural traditionalism, personal responsibility, civil society, religious freedom, a commitment to work, a belief in America as the last best hope of mankind.  Provoked on one or more of these fronts, conservatives have reacted defensively, making our case against what we have taken to be serious mistakes.  This is a necessary and appropriate response to the circumstances.  But it is dangerously insufficient."

Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) in Washington, D.C., and editor of National AffairsModern Age is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) in Wilmington, Del.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports EPPC, National Affairs, and ISI.

"To advance our cause," according to Levin in "The Roots of a Reforming Conservatism," "American conservatives need to offer our vision as a genuine alternative to the status quo.  Doing so requires us to make an appeal to the broader public grounded in both a practical and a theoretical case, and therefore to engage simultaneously with the mundane realities of American government and the principles and philosophy that underlie our idea of the proper character of society and politics.  It requires, in other words, a political program that draws on a conservative anthropology, sociology, and epistemology, and expresses itself in terms of both political philosophy and public administration.

"This means that today's Right needs both a firmer grounding in the foundations of the conservative tradition in American politics and more practical policy proposals that can speak to the public's needs and wants," he continues.

"The goal of conservatives in national politics cannot just be to have less of the same:  the liberal welfare state at a slightly lower cost," Levin writes.  "The goal, rather, should be to transform American government along conservative lines, into a government that works to sustain and expand the space between the individual and the state; to strengthen the family, civil society, and the market economy and make their benefits accessible to more Americans; to help the poor not with an empty promise of material equality but with a fervent commitment to upward mobility; and to strengthen the middle class by lifting needless burdens off the shoulders of parents and workers."

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |