Ralph Hancock: What is left for modern conservatism to conserve?

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  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2019 11:20 a.m.

    When Ralph Hancock reports that “it is not clear just what is left to conserve of the morally and religiously grounded freedom that once defined America” he supposes that what is lamentably lost, is entirely Christian in origin and substance. It is not. The moral compass of a devout Deist (the faith of many of our Founding Fathers), humanist, pagan, Jew, Muslim or Hindu is surprisingly similar to a Christian. Of course there are small differences (such as positions on sexual mores), but when it comes to the basics (Thou shall not kill, for instance), they’re pretty similar!

    So if there really is more of a difference in style rather than substance, perhaps French really does have the right of it! “Neutral” pluralism isn’t naÏve, it just isn’t inherently Christian, and that makes a lot of people mad.

  • goodnight-goodluck Salt Lake City, UT
    June 18, 2019 8:44 a.m.

    "White Culture" conservatism is solely based on the preservation of WHITE CULTURE.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 14, 2019 1:18 p.m.

    Re: "So many American conservatives .
    . . threw everything away for [T]rump and a couple court picks."

    No, we just made the logical choice between bad, and way, way, WAY worse. It's a proud American tradition -- no voter ever gets everything he/she wants.

    The Supreme Court picks, alone, may save the Nation -- at least for awhile. And, as a bonus, there's no honest quibbling over the beneficial effect of several more of Mr. Trump's policies. These confirm that holding my nose and voting Republican was the correct -- and moral -- choice.

    It's also increasingly clear that the correct and moral 2020 choice will also be Mr. Trump, with Dems jockeying for positions further and further to the loony left of one another.

    I've been a Democrat for nearly 50 years, but it looks like my Party will not offer me a single 2020 statewide or nationwide candidate for whom I can vote with a clear conscience.

    Truly sad.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    June 14, 2019 7:03 a.m.

    To "one old man" actually no. The Democrats are doing everything they can to destroy the US. Just look at the states that are making laws to give all of their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote. Democrats have always been for ruling using un-elected bureaucrats who don't answer to voters.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 14, 2019 12:28 a.m.

    Re: "From where I stand, it certainly seems that "conservatives" are doing nothing less than working to simply destroy American democracy."

    It'd be interesting to find out what third-world outhouse you must be standing in.

    Seeing the havoc wrought on our once-strong Nation by -- well just pick any list of liberals -- then suggesting the moral, spiritual, and physical rot America suffers from today is the fault of conservatives is, of course, laughably misleading.

    It does bring on a wave of nostalgia, though. It's been since before the wall came down, the last time I heard this kind of Pravda/Izvestia rhetoric.

  • Helen M Kimball Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:08 p.m.

    A new conservative is emerging, but they have to wait for tht old guys in power to die off.

    New conservative wants:
    1. Less intrusion and less de-platforming of those who disagree with them
    2. Mutual tolerance (different than respect)
    3. Less, less spending. Reforming social benefits is part of this
    4. Fight socialism at all costs

    Unfortunately, I think Trump/McConnell really believe in number 4 only. The new conservative will need to wait for age to take it's toll.

  • one old man MSC, UT
    June 13, 2019 6:14 p.m.

    From where I stand, it certainly seems that "conservatives" are doing nothing less than working to simply destroy American democracy.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 13, 2019 3:03 p.m.

    "In 1860 the Democrats were the conservatives , the Republicans progressives."

    Republicans gave us the Civil Right Act of 1964 (signed into law by Lyndon Johnson, but more Republicans voted for it than Democrats, and Democrats staged a 54 day filibuster against its passage.)

    You can try to create a fantasy narrative about "conservatives" and "Progressives", but the truth remains that conservatives were and are trying to conserve our founding principles. The term "progressive" was not even used in 1964. Every slave holder in the USA was a Democrat, and the Governor of every Southern State with Jim Crowe laws was a Democrat. Republican conservatives opposed them. Not a single Republican in the USA ever owned a slave. All you need to do is find one to prove me wrong :)

  • viejogeezer CARLSBAD, CA
    June 13, 2019 12:17 p.m.

    Surely you are know your history better than that. In 1860 the Democrats were the conservatives , the Republicans progressives. In 1964 southern Democrats, along with their northern Republican supporters were the conservatives. I was around in 1964 and watched conservatives blow up churches and bash heads of those seeking to vote or eat at a Woolworth lunch counter and Republicans up north cheer them on. Those same conservatives are now Republicans.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    June 13, 2019 12:15 p.m.

    And here we have "No True Scotsman".

  • sgallen Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:40 a.m.

    We’re witnessing the collective ego go through a state of inflation. Boundless liberties will eventually lead to their own demise. What will follow will not be a return to arbitrary authority, but a connection to the individual Self (or consciousness). We can’t return to institutions that failed to provide meaning in the first place, and which people naturally rejected, unless those institutions offer a connection to the Self.

  • Marriage & Morality Advocate Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:35 a.m.

    We can see that influence of moral neutralism has inevitably led to the death even of common sense neutralism at the altar of political correctness (such liberalism has indeed led to the closing of the American mind) and it is now so pervasive that there is a real threat that this neutralism and its spawn will win the day in popular and common culture and even in “conservatism” with a complete victory and result in the elimination of constitutional freedoms of all kinds—including speech and religion. Thus, this “French-ism“ approach is just as much an enemy of freedom as is the undiluted progressivism of the so-called left. They both are founded upon the same value neutral and relativist principles. Classical liberalism, including the true modern American conservatism founded on the absolute moral truths of natural law and human nature—with necessary support from traditional religion—have always been the only foundation upon which freedom and liberty in law can survive.

  • Marriage & Morality Advocate Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:03 a.m.

    In truth the “’neutral’ pluralism” contended for by French is essentially a doctrine supporting relative truth against the doctrine or philosophy of absolute truth at the foundation of classical liberalism. This “French-ism” approach has given us in America (and it also arises from) the historicism of the early 1900s which was heavily influenced by the German nihilist influence which came to America in the late 1800s that joined with the John C. Calhoun type philosophies of the slavery South that also gained increasing influence throughout 19th century America. From the rise of these influences we now have in the “academy… the media and elite culture” modernist and post-modernist philosophies where agenda equals truth and where even reason, science, and obvious common understanding of things like family, male and female, and weather patterns are placed at the altar of political correctness.

  • Makid Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 7:27 a.m.

    A "True Conservative" is someone who will stand up against both the Left and the Right. They put the Country first in all situations rather than Party.

    To see this, you only need to look at Congress. How many Republicans are standing for impeachment? 1. That is how many True Conservatives are in Congress right now.

    A True Conservative does what is best for Themselves, their Community, and their Country. This is to be a betterment rather than a detriment. A True Conservative seeks to help the helpless while also holding those with greater means to a higher standard of service.

    Conservatism started in France and was popularized with the Musketeers - All for One and One for All. We all look out for each other, no matter the station and we will all succeed.

    Unfortunately, many people have forgotten about this and hide behind fake Conservative flags or Party notions of superiority. Roughly 50% of the ideals of both the Republican and Democratic party platforms are conservative.

    Lastly, if someone is claiming to be a "True Conservative" and still defends the Party system and Donald Trump, they are not a "True Conservative".

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:31 p.m.

    Douglas a Democrat, Lincoln a Republican.
    George Wallace a Democrat, MLK a Republican.
    The list goes on and on.
    Give me a Republican every time.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 12, 2019 8:05 p.m.

    So many American conservatives saw what was and is coming and threw everything away for trump and a couple court picks.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    June 12, 2019 5:56 p.m.

    @2 Bits, @RiDal
    It'll be unfair to act like conservatives are mostly Republican, and that Republicans are mostly conservative, when that's no longer true.

    But both data and public perception agree on this: most conservatives are Republican, and most Republicans are conservative.

    When have conservatives *ever* cared about "human rights" or "privacy"? The Right to Privacy, found by the SCOTUS in Griswold v. Connecticut, and re-affirmed (and expanded) in Loving v. Virginia, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas is one of the things conservatives have been complaining about and denouncing as an "invented right" for decades.

  • ⚖️ Moderator Nauvoo, IL
    June 12, 2019 4:48 p.m.

    Being a Constitutionalist with a PhD in Physics, I want to see real evidence, not just words.

    Trump has real evidence of being a Constitutionalist and a Conservative. I'm still waiting for any evidence that Romney believes in the Constitution or is a conservative.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 12, 2019 4:36 p.m.

    Hancock's general question is one many Americans - conservative and other - share. What does it mean to be conservative, anymore?

    The identity crisis on the right reveals either theft of the conservative mantle, or a rapid redefinition of what "conservativism" means.

    The conservatives I've known were for fiscal responsibility, free trade, immigration, human rights, privacy, etc.

    2019 conservatives are comfortable with $1.2T deficits, accept tariffs against former allies as the tool of a temperamental executive, seek to chop legal immigration by 50%, look the other way as the POTUS embraces authoritarian dictators, shrug at how Americans' personal information was used by foreign governments.

    Will conservatives regain their moral compass?

    Or is it now just a nationalist / ethno-nationalist movement, with a Christian veneer?

  • Candace Owens Rocks Forest Heights, MD
    June 12, 2019 4:18 p.m.

    True conservatives stand up for the constitution, and are not afraid to take on the left who are trying to destroy our nation.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 3:39 p.m.

    ...and just to be accurate: Don't conflate "Conservative" with "Republican". There is a lot more conservatism in the Republican Party; but they are also a huge disappointment on many conservative issues. They get voted for only because they are more conservative than the Democratic Socialists.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 12, 2019 3:36 p.m.

    Just so we have our definitions straight, go look up the definition of "Classical Liberalism".

    Classical Liberalism was a "new, progressive idea" at the time of the founders. If you check the definition, you see that it is every principle that conservatives now stand for. America was founded upon these ideas, so they seem "old" in the context of American history.
    "Conservatives" are trying to conserve these original founding principles of personal liberty and small, limited government.
    This is why "Conservative" in America, has a different connotation that the worldwide connotations of liberalism and conservatism.
    "Modern Liberals" in America are merely socialists. They call that "Progressive" because they want to "progress" beyond individual freedom to the socialist utopia, where the government controls everything and no one has personal responsibility.
    The idea that freedom imposes responsibility has been replaced with the idea that freedom means "freedom from personal responsibility".
    Socialism is still socialism even if you put "Democratic" in front of it. North Korea is a "Democratic People's Republic". They all are.

  • viejogeezer CARLSBAD, CA
    June 12, 2019 3:03 p.m.

    Seems to me the only thing conservatives have ever conserved is their power and wealth.
    Pharoah was a conservative, Moses a progressive
    Annas a conservative, Jesus a progressive
    King George a conservative, George Washington a progressive.
    Hamilton a conservative, Jefferson a progressive
    Douglas a conservative, Lincoln a progressive
    Lilburn Boggs a conservative, Joseph Smith a progressive
    Mckinley a conservative, Teddy Roosevelt a progressive
    Hoover a conservative, FDR a progressive
    George Wallace a conservative, MLK a progressive
    The list goes on and on.
    Give me a progressive every time

  • Liberal Mormon Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 2:54 p.m.

    Intellectual conservatism is simply just being a little too clever by half, with a pinch of insufferable showboating of esoteric vocabulary. And to this end, Ralph Hancock is its patron saint, or milquetoast token, rather.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 2:17 p.m.

    "There remains precious little conservative liberalism to conserve, and so we must rise to the higher challenge of a liberal conservatism — the challenge of regrounding freedom in a classical and Christian concern for the common good."

    Had I ever let such nonsensical writing, such convoluted word salad, such rhetoric bereft of analysis, such unsupported assertion and obvious bias, into my papers in Dr. Hancock's classes, I would have recieved a failing grade and been called in for a "talk".

    What have we come to when the professional political philosophers lack coherence and rigor?!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 12, 2019 1:49 p.m.

    @liberal larry 10:29
    RE: "Wealthy conservatives have funded right wing "think" tanks"...
    Are you seriously pretending wealthy conservatives are the only people who fund think tanks, PACs and "special interest groups"?

    What about George Soros, Ariana Huffington, etc?

    Most of the top political donors donated to Democrats. And many of them aren't even Americans!

    Google "Top Individual Contributors: All Federal Contributions- OpenSecrets"...

    While we're on foundations and think tanks... What about ACORN, the Open Society Foundations, Clinton foundation, Tides Foundation, Center for American Progress? There's a bunch out there.

    I know that's what about-ism, but you seem to be oblivious to anything that doesn't your narrative. Anything that doesn't fit your bias. Just making sure it's not painted as just one-side's problem (as you seem to think)


    RE: "The ballooning deficits under Bush/Cheney, and Trump!"...
    Thanks for pointing that out. Good point. But you completely ignored the ballooning deficits under Obama/Biden. Why? Any coherent reason to skip over those? They were leaps and bounds bigger than the Bush/Cheney budgets or any budgets in US history.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 12, 2019 12:52 p.m.

    @Invisible Hand,
    The 42% do have a voice. The exact same voice any American gets... one vote.

    They have a voice. They just aren't organized (like the other 2 groups).

    It's been said that organizing Independents is like herding cats. They are all over the place. They will never be organized and herded like the other 2 groups.

    And that's why it SEEMS like they don't have a voice. Because they aren't organized. They don't have a Party, a platform, or a candidate.

    Even when they do have an "Independent" candidate on the ballot... they only appeal to a fraction of the 42% (again, because they are all over the place, kinda what "Independent" means).

    By their nature, they're not going to think alike. They are "Independent". They don't think alike, they don't vote alike (like the drones from the 2 parties).

    They still have a voice. They are just forced to give it to the Rs or the Ds (because they are organized and have real candidates, viable candidates).

  • Soccer ⚽ Coach St. George, UT
    June 12, 2019 12:33 p.m.

    Right now, conservatives are being massively censored by monopolist social media companies, with the companies clearly violating their terms of service. Also, fake conservatives like Mitt Romney praise violent communists like antifa, while attacking true patriots. Modern conservatism has plenty to fight for, and plenty of liberties under attack that need to be preserved.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    June 12, 2019 11:42 a.m.

    To "Bloodhound" liberals won't debate conservatives because they know that the current liberal dogma doesn't hold up when questioned.

    To "2 bits" the better poll is the Gallup poll from January asking people if they are conservative. See "U.S. Still Leans Conservative, but Liberals Keep Recent Gains" at Gallup where they found that 35% of the US considers themselves to be conservative compared to 26% liberal. The remainder call themselves moderates.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:29 a.m.

    @ 2bits: It's nice that 42% of Americans don't identify with either party but it would be nicer if they participated enough to ensure that more palatable candidates survived the primaries. Electoral reform that included rank order voting and one common primary would be the best solution. Then maybe those 42% independents would actually have a voice.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:08 a.m.

    Ahmari represents a chilling undercurrent among conservatives. Conservatives used to be for small government, but now a growing group of them want a muscular state that works to install the primacy of of their idea of "highest good". Those of us who value freedom have no place in either political party today, as the Democrats insist on building an economically repressive nanny state and Republicans increasingly seem to want an authoritarian police state.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:03 a.m.

    @liberal larry and other liberals,
    You either didn't read, or didn't understand what I said.

    You seem to be completely stuck on denouncing Republicans. But in reality Republican does not equal Conservative. And Conservative does not equal Republican. It's only that simple in the politico's minds. But in reality it's not that simple.

    More Americans are "Independent" than D or R.
    Google "What percentage of Americans identify as independent"...
    31% Democrat,
    24% Republican,
    42% Independent.

    Lot's of Conservatives are not Republicans.

    Lots of Republicans are not Conservative.

    It's not a Republican=Conservative, or Conservative=Republican relationship like you keep pretending. Those absolutes don't work in reality.

    Most Americans (Conservative or Liberal) are neither R nor D.

    Conservative Americans don't have to be Republicans. But they may tend to vote for more Rs than Ds. But that seems normal, not something inherently evil or bad.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:29 a.m.

    Presently there is no coherent conservative philosophy! The republican party is a coalition of people who want low taxes (the top 1 or 2 percenters), advocates for the abolition of the inheritance tax, the gun lobby, anti abortion supporters, and the religious right.

    Wealthy conservatives have funded right wing "think" tanks to support their monetary interests, and thrown in plenty of rhetoric to keep the gun supports, and religious right in tow.

    They've even abandoned fiscal responsibility as is seen by the ballooning deficits under Bush/Cheney, and Trump!

  • T-money$$$ Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:27 a.m.

    Modern conservatism is rooted in a nostalgic, fetishized view of the Reagan era - that's cool, but times have changed drastically since the 1980's;

    Technology, academia, and our mass culture has accelerated more in the last 20 years than it has in the entire century before. More content has been created by humans in just the last three years than in all of history up until the year 2004! The advent of the internet and the ability to have a wealth of personalized information in your pocket along with improved communication capabilities have made the world a much more globalized place since 1980.

    We are also set to loose about 8% of the world's plant and animal species over the next decade due to the effects of global warming. In our own country, "conservative" attitudes towards corporate America have let the richest 3 individuals own more wealth than the entire bottom half of all Americans do combined.

    American's fixation with conservatism has allowed other nations to surpass the US in everything from education and literacy to crime levels to health care and civil rights.

    It's time to embrace a new set of progressive solutions or get left in the dust.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:05 a.m.

    Hancock mentions conservative intellectuals in passing. I'm afraid this is an oxymoron in Trumperica. The Republican Party of old, which had some tether to a central philosophy, is now tethered to a narcissistic, amoral, vulgar ignoramus who is interested only in his own power.

    And Hancock's philosophical point that he gives the Tweeter-in-Chief is misplaced, since Trump doesn't really care about any duty to the people. This is just a political ploy he employs to get easily fooled voters to place him in power, where he can devote full attention to trying to satisfy his infinite need for adulation.

    In the meantime, he has systematically gone about dismantling our democracy, kowtowing to brutal autocrats, enriching the already obscenely wealthy, destroying the environment, and disrupting relations with our allies.

    The conservatism Hancock yearns for does not exist, except in the heads of a few people who now have no home in the political universe of America. Most conservatives have simply caved in to the wave of raw authoritarian power-craving that has consumed the GOP. You want to understand the nature of modern conservatism? Look no further than Mitch McConnell.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:28 a.m.

    Mr Hancock seems to say the president is bad, be a liberal progressive looks him to be good.

  • Bloodhound Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:17 a.m.

    An informative article. I've been conservative all my life, even when I was an atheist for a few years. I used to enjoy arguing with liberals in college. We didn't hate one another and debated freely. I don't believe I would feel comfortable debating the modern left in today's universities. Progressives are illiberal liberals. Most won't listen and many refuse to debate conservatives. Instead, they label us (i.e. racist, sexist, bigot, etc.) and say case closed in their favor. It's really sad.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 12, 2019 8:23 a.m.

    RE: "What is left for modern conservatism to conserve?"...

    There's lots of things left we can (and should) conserve.

    Seems the writer has fallen into the trap of saying "Conserve/Conservative" and ignoring the traditional-definition and only thinking about the Political-definition (which are two very different things).

    Don't fall into the fallacy of thinking anyone who Conserves is Conservative (Politically). Or the false-narrative that all Conservatives are Republicans, they aren't. I'm a good example.

    There are liberal Rs. And there are conservative Ds.

    It's a false notion that all Republicans are Conservatives. They aren't. There are some Very Liberal Republicans, who don't care to conserve any of the above, and love to spend money (instead of conserving it) just like Liberals. Some are in Congress and the White House today.

    Stereotypes and grouping people by Assumptions based on other characteristics is a flawed and overly-simplistic lazy way of seeing people. Don't snap judge them and extrapolate and Assume you know everything about them because you know a few things about them. They may surprise you.