Dark Age Patriotism

I’ve long said that the real problem for American conservatism isn’t the left. They are predictable.

No, the real issue for a truly conservative American political movement are so-called American conservatives that cling to the Lincolnian Myth of the American founding.

You can’t spell conservative with 19th century radicalism.

R.L. Dabney pointed this out in the late 19th century.

The 19th century Republican Party never considered itself to be conservative. In fact, they argued the exact opposite.

Lincoln and others may have waxed poetic about the “proposition nation” myth, but that argument had been thoroughly rebuked by the same caliber (or better) of moral, religious,and political leaders in the South, and for that matter the question of “equality” which so vexed the Western world was still being debated across the West in the 19th century.

America was not unique in this process.

The conservative principles of America, best expressed as a dedication to people and place, what Lafayette Lee describes as “patriotism” in this piece, should be the bedrock of a modern American conservative party.

This is why George Wallace irritated men like William F. Buckley. Wallace did not fit the New England definition of a “conservative,” someone dedicated through ideology to “capitalism” and government restraint on all levels.

Wallace, though, called himself a conservative even while promoting public education and welfare programs in Alabama. He never insisted they needed to be applied to the entire United States.

That is federalism, one of the key hallmarks of American conservatism. As John C. Calhoun said, “I am a conservative, and because I am a conservative, I am a State’s rights man.”

American nationalism is inconsistent with American conservatism.

You have to have a base culture for that to work, and very few Americans in the first two hundred and fifty years of the American experience believed that a monolithic American culture exited.

They were right.

I discuss Lee’s piece and American conservatism on Episode 729 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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