This is a strange moment in the conservative movement. Following a period of governmental overreach, a Jefferson-Jackson corrective is predictable and necessary. But a tone of anger and paranoia is discrediting. Future generations will struggle to explain the conservative elements that praised Edward Snowden, apparently granted on the theory that the enemy of my government is my friend.
The conservative instinct — and America's shared republican tradition — heads in a different direction, toward gratitude for our patrimony and affection for our traditions and institutions, expressed in service to the country and to one another. We honor and cultivate such responsible citizenship because it makes our country, in Buckley's words, "safer, lovelier, and more precious." And because it strengthens something valuable and unavoidably national: our national character.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.
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