The Closing of the Conservative Mind

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Are the “conservatives” of yesteryear (among them some old friends) today’s war profiteers? Beltway Troughdwellers? Too tired to fight? Too fearful of exclusion? Too comfortable working for the GOP establishment? Simply tuned out?

One thing is certain: They are scared to death to champion the truths that inspired them in their youth. Like the chained prisoners of Plato’s Cave (Republic, Book VII) they bicker over which vapid Republican big-spender won last night’s debate. They ignore the only advocate of the principles they once embraced and celebrated. They undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when Ron Paul was blatantly denied a closing statement. Egad — he might have mentioned principle!

Since he was not allowed to, permit me to cite the foundational motivation of their movement, which they have abandoned. I hope that their consciences permit them to ask themselves, who carries  this banner today?

“The turn will come out when we interest of the conduct of our affairs to the men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest them selves of the power that have been given. It will come when Americans, in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic. Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: ‘I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.  I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel the old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.’”

Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative, 1960: Victor Publishing Company, Shepherdsville, Ky., p. 17.

10:15 am on October 19, 2011