Bonus Episode – 2018 – The Year in Review
Since the end of a year is dedicated to both reflecting on the past and looking towards the future, I thought it would be apropos to take a look back at where Saving Elephants has been this past year and—more importantly—the state of conservatism in 2019 and beyond.
No one wants to be a loser, and these days it seems like conservatives are in full retreat. Whether that’s a Trump supporter who voted for the president as some last-ditch effort to fight back at the Left as dirty as they were willing to fight us, or conservatives such as myself who see ourselves in the wilderness as we wait for adults to return to the political fray. But what’s important to keep in mind is that nearly every political tribe feels like it’s losing these days. You think progressives or liberals or socialists or any other group out there feels as if they have the upper hand?
The thing about conservatism is that it has a remarkable ability to endure. Even when it’s vanquished for a generation it will eventually re-emerge as people grow tired of the latest ideology that comes along and promises salvation. When the ship of conservatism sinks, it becomes a submarine.
It’s easy to forget that—traditionally—conservatism has not been popular. Real conservatism—not the shallow stuff masquerading as such—has stubbornly insisted that, while we can strive for and, in some cases, obtain a ‘good life’, this world is not perfect and utopia isn’t achievable. It teaches that there will always be trade-offs in the things we want and that sometimes we have to ‘order our loves’ so that what we naturally want—say, social justice or equality—must necessarily come second place to other, more enduring values. Perhaps most appallingly, it insists on each of us taking responsibility for our own lives. Shallow conservatism teaches a version of this, but it usually means talking smack about freeloaders or ‘people who are not us’ not taking sufficient responsibility for their lives. Real conservatism says we all have a duty to do so, not just the people who don’t look like us or the people we don’t like.
In my view, one of the greatest threats to conservatism emerging among young Americans is the widespread distrust of our institutions. Millennials in particular are far less likely to attend church and have less confidence in our traditional political party establishment that past generations. I DO NOT mean that this distrust is unwarranted. But conservatism is all about restoring the institutions that have served us well from generation to generation—not about radical efforts to destabilize the system. I agree the system is broken. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and fix it, not tear it apart and just hope that’ll somehow make things better.