Michael Gerson: Voters don't place much value on political realism

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

It is certainly not conservatism. Both apocalyptic language and utopian hopes are foreign to it. Conservatives have traditionally affirmed that social systems should fit the contours of reality, not patterns cut by abstract ideology. The task of politics is reform, which requires prudent calculation and respect for consequences. Instead of alternating between despair and bluster, conservatism offers a deeper confidence: that human nature is best suited to ordered liberty. And for this reason, persistent, responsible political action can make a large difference, on health care and much else.

"I've always believed," said William F. Buckley in 1970, "that conservatism is ... the politics of reality and that reality ultimately asserts itself, in a reasonably free society, in behalf of the conservative position."

This is the true source of conservative hope: the politics of reality.

Michael Gerson's email address is michaelgerson@washpost.com.

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