There is no stopping change: why Conservatism is a losing franchise.


WASHINGTON, October 29, 2014 — How is it that when Americans are polled, they consistently support typically conservative values, yet liberal politicians win most races and dominate our legislatures? How can it be that humans, so genetically averse to change, jump at the chance to “fundamentally change America?”

This can’t all be due to voter fraud.

Despite our human aversion to change, good ideas have found a way to break through and change things throughout recorded history. And things have changed. Things change every day, and there is no stopping change. One just hopes that change, which always has unintended consequences, is not sought just for the sake of change.

Conservatives have a point, and this is it: Not every new idea is a good one. Over thousands of generations, the best efforts of billions of people have resulted in what we have today. It is not lightly that one should approach the culmination of that effort and try to change its direction. It takes a really good idea, or a ton of hubris, to try to turn Leviathan.

Paradoxically, a really good idea does not require much hubris to prevail; perhaps because of this, hubris rarely endorses a really good idea.

Therein is the conflict: Elitists, who are 98 percent hubris and 2 percent ideals, definitionally think their ideas are better than anyone else’s. If these people are among the regular populace, their good ideas bubble up through scientific, engineering, and marketing success, and their bad ideas rarely get more than their five minutes of fame; but if these ideas are held by people with political power, they can be forced on the population. Hence, idealogues with unworkable ideas gravitate to positions of political power and influence, where decisions are made, not on the merit of ideas, but on the power of the people behind them.

In real life, one persuades others to do their bidding through the power of their ideas; in politics, one forces changes through their power. In business, one needs “qualifications” to make the big calls; in politics, one needs only votes. That is another reason whey otherwise-unqualified demagogues gravitate toward the political arena: it’s the only place where they can make such a great living, and it’s the only place where their bad ideas can get an audience – or, if they’re powerful enough, get implemented.

Conservatives ultimately lose because their ideas aren’t any better than those of liberals, but conservatives can’t hold up “shiny new ideas” that will distract and attract public attention. Conservatives without new ideas can’t mobilize voters against the status quo. And since they are defending the status quo (the definition of “conservatism”), conservatives are held to answer for everything that is wrong; to some extent, they are obliged to defend it.

Conservatism stands for all the good things that thousands of generations of civilization have brought to the world as it stands today, but it also stands for all the bad things that have arisen. It is interesting that neither political conservatives nor political liberals want to be associated with what’s wrong, but here’s the difference: conservatives must defend it, and liberals must offer alternatives, no matter their merits.

What we end up with is a bunch of unqualified demagogues trying to force change on a bunch of imagination-free stuffed shirts.

The voters are then forced to choose between nutball ideas and continuing with what is wrong – and those who offer “hope and change,” regardless the merits of their ideas, can use the imaginations of voters to conjure up visions of what they (liberals) stand for; they need actually have no ideas, since the voters think that their vision is that of the candidates. When things are bad, that hope can easily trump reality.

And things are indeed bad. The irony is that things are bad largely because nutball ideas have replaced the evolved ideas that civilization has incorporated over millennia. And those changes have happened rapidly because governments now have so much power that they can force things to change quickly, good or bad, without examination at each step. In other words, we don’t have evolution; we have genetic engineering. And the engineers don’t have to be qualified, and they’re working on hunches, and their mutations can be permanent.

It’s change, and it’s exciting, but as my dad said when I came home with a new 28-year-old girlfriend (when I was 17) and explained how exciting she was, “Tim, WAR is exciting. You need more criteria than that.”

Dad was right.

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  • Tim Kern

    Note: I didn’t write the headline this way. It’s
    “There is no stopping change: why Conservatism is a losing franchise. ”