Monday, June 19, 2006

A Humble Challenge for Improvement

I am going to write a post critical of A.C. Kleinheider at Volunteer Voters. Please be aware, though, that my intent is not to express dislike for Kleinheider. It is only frustration, and I would like to see him do better. Kleinheider is a potentially talented writer with a sharp mind and a ready wit. He can manage to be biting, yet likeable. But he also with way too much frequency writes stuff like this:

Today, conservatism is about power. The conservative movement has essentially made its peace with the status quo. It has made it's peace with not just big government but centralized government. Sure, they will rail against the Left and use the power of the fedgov to do so, but is that really conservatism?

Please be aware that my frustration with Kleinheider has nothing to do with the fact that he criticizes conservatism. I would be just as aggravated if he wrote like this about liberals.

Sure, other people write like this, too; but when it is done by mundane writers of limited ability, I just ignore it and stop reading them after I realize that it is all they have. These words provide no analysis and say nothing of value. The vain resort to generalization and demonized motives requires no thought. It is intellectually lazy.

"Conservatism is about power?" "The conservative movement has essentially made its peace with the status quo?" The term "conservatism" takes in varied groups -- both geographically and ideologically diverse -- with sometimes differing views. Are those for whom "conservatism is about power" social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarian conservatives, neo-conservatives, classical liberals, crunchy conservatives, paleoconservatives, or some other sort of group to whom the noun conservative may apply with an appropriate adjective? Are these conservatives in Washington only, or do those in state capitols count, or is an ideological conservative in Bucksnort also about power? And, when a conservative (perhaps even one in Washington or at FOX News) rails against a conservative Congress because he thinks that they are unprincipled on spending or some other issue, does that make the critical conservative to be not about power, or is he only seeking to gain power from a conservative who already has it?

Generalizations and claims to know motives ("conservatism is about power." Really? You mean no conservatives really are "about" issues they rightly or wrongly believe in?) are unimaginative and clumsy mimics of real political commentary. Kleinheider is capable of better. One hopes that he will learn to provide it consistently.

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