Achilles Heal of liberalism and conservatism?

No, you are making my point. It would make more sense to say that I prefer a banana and a train. A train over a airplane is just a preference. A jobs program over a business that is focused on the efficient allocation of resources is not just a preference.
Both generate jobs. You prefer the business approach because you find it more efficient. That's fine.
By that logic a boat with a hole in it is just a preference over a boat without a hole in it. It's just whatever you prefer.
And indeed military planners sometimes do prefer boats with holes in them that sink - they are called submarines. However, the existence of boats does not mean submarines "don't work."
Both generate jobs. You prefer the business approach because you find it more efficient. That's fine.

And indeed military planners sometimes do prefer boats with holes in them that sink - they are called submarines. However, the existence of boats does not mean submarines "don't work."
There's an exception to every rule, no matter how unlikely and obscure, but to have a general conversation is requires dealing with the usual

It's unusual to prefer a boat with a hole in it. A submarine isn't a boat with a hole in it.
Back to the topic at hand -

In terms of weaknesses, liberalism tends to reject what has proven to work in the face of new technology that does not work as well. Often it DOES work as well or better, but there is a bias towards the novel in progressive liberalism that can sometimes come back and bite you. Blockchain currency would be one example, and the tax credits for solar thermal in the 1970's would be another.

Conservatism, of course, has the exact opposite problem. Witness how conservatives oppose EV's, solar, wind, and grid scale storage, and point out imaginary advantages that older technology has (i.e. "gas cars don't burst into flame!")
I think you are conflating modern republicans with conservatives.

I know it's really important for you to separate the two, but I just don't see how that works compared to the last forty years, at least.

Should we start at the Reagan awakening, in 1980? When do you think this separation between "modern republicans" and "conservatives" began?

By comparison, I've long thought the idea that Democrats were ever truly a liberal party is kind of funny. Like I said when this came up recently↗: The Democratic Party has never been especially liberal; it's all of twelve years between the '68 convention and the Reagan experience, and in my time it has been all Democratic voters can do to hold the line against the sort of catastrophe that prevailed in the Trump presidency.

Remember what conservatism is: It's not that so many people intend to be cruel, but that they cannot countenance the cruelty of their familiarity. Compared to the comfort of familiarity about the sins of our traditions, and after so long, with all the façades and pretenses and excuses worn through, conservatives are pretty much coming right out and saying it.
Qasim Rashid↱ wonders: "How many people realize that white conservatives benefit more than any other demographic from the exact same policies they condemn"?

The basic explanation, transcribed from video:

How many people have noticed that just about every Democratic policy that white conservatives despise, they benefit most from? For example, white conservatives claim they despise federal government overreach; well, eight of the top ten states that take federal tax dollars are conservative states. They'll tell you welfare is socialism, and we need to end welfare; well, white people have benefitted more from welfare than any other demographic, while excluding black Americans. They'll tell you gun laws don't work because they don't keep us safe; well, sixteen of the top seventeen states in gun death rates are conservative states who have almost no firearm legislation. They'll tell you government does not help when making health care affordable; well, while thirteen of the top fourteen states in death rates by diabetes are conservative states, a hundred ninety-three Republicans voted against lowering the cost of insulin. They'll tell you they despise affirmative action; well, affirmative action has benefitted white women more than any other demographic. Studies show white conservatives don't hate these benefits, they just don't want Black people to have access to them, because when you've had privilege your whole life, equality feels like oppression.

It's actually that last line that got me, a minor celebrity dropping an easy, observable, familiar line that remains as true in this moment as it ever was, that for the vast majority equality is a step up.

But we can actually toss a critical coin and watch how it falls: The brief video segment transcribed above overlooks what is essentially a next station on the flow chart or decision tree: "They'll tell you they despise affirmative action", Rashid explains, "well, affirmative action has benefitted white women more than any other demographic." In a question of white conservatives, yes, this is a valid and appropriate point. Functionally, however, it overlooks conservative misogyny: Part of the reason conservatives are so upset at liberalism is that women benefit from these policies. Rashid and others might celebrate that white women have achieved much progress, but conservatives are still pretty angry about it.

Rashid is not incorrect, merely incomplete. Compared to the distinctive brevity of the medium—i.e., Twitter delivering a TikTok video—it's not really an error; trying to pack in a generalized discursive point for every symptom of conservative inconsistency is an act of futility akin organizing rain in a hurricane.


Nostalgia is a wicked beast. From late 2004↗:

• 「Liberal political philosophy is a harder sell. It appeals to more complex sympathies than the conservative. It would seem to speak poorly of liberals that they are unable to better-express their opinions, but for our part in the U.S., we're at a strange point in our political-ideological evolution at which we must decide whether fair compromise includes violating the very tenets upon which the demand for compromise is based. Liberalism seems high-minded because it will not concede to certain visceral demands. Again, I point to the gay marriage controversy: the liberal goal of instituting same-sex marriage is the appropriate reflection of the present contents of the U.S. Constitution. What drives me batty is that I might have time to raise the money, con my way into law school, and get on the bar somewhere in order to file the case myself before the liberals get around to striking the victory blow. It is, in fact, a stupid arrogance of the people involved, I think, that prevents the liberal advocates from attacking the issue on a gender and equal-protection basis. But the answer is that yes, liberals must figure a way to do the conservatives' homework for them. The conservative position holds out in the face of fact and then cries foul: "liberal elitism".

In the U.S., conservative political philosophy appeals primarily to three basic conditions: greed, fear, and superstition.

Add to the mix a combination of cool cultural machismo and a persecution complex drawn from reflections on role models (e.g. Jesus Christ, the Founding Fathers, the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, The Boston Tea Party, &c.) cast in mythical terms, and what you get is approximately akin to something referred to as "Angry White Male Syndrome", in which the body with the most political authority suddenly perceives the effects of the very system it has advocated and cries foul.

Christian advocates in the political arena have cried that people of the faith are persecuted. In some cases, yes, there is knee-jerk reactionism afoot, but in most "persecution" comes in the form of being treated equally as other philosophical assertions protected by the First Amendment. To be equal is somehow an intolerable state of affairs to this group.」​

Along the way in that old post, I also acknowledged a question that confounded me: How does one communicate rationally with one who wishes only irrationality? In recent years, a recurring theme↗ has to do with the question of how to engage with those who, even more than not caring if they offend, actually seek to offend¹.


If we build ourselves some tabula rasa straw idol to whom we might appeal, explain. and even justify, one of the more complicated simplicities is the point that conservatism tends to conserve institutional structures, including the prejudices communicated and affirmed from one generation to the next.

Like in 2004↗, having occasion to wonder: In what way is progress represented by the compromise that some people should be held unequal in the eyes of the law? More recently↗, we had occasion to consider such centrist inclination as to demand liberals compromise with conservatives by agreeing to fail; that is, the political question of demanding such compromise as agreeing to fail.

Comparatively, the idea of such dark turns for conservatism were not utterly unimaginable, but 'twixt then and now it really is a strange conservative condition. The strength of conservative delusion is a difficult question; what ought, according to principles so many people otherwise pretend to abide, the vice of their make-believe ought to be some sort of tangible weakness becomes a cohesive bond, a shared identity, the strength of numbers. But so much of the conservative identity runs on make-believe and emotionalism that we might describe its strength not so much akin to asking how strong is Superman, but, rather, observing the strength of hurricane winds, or the contagion and morbidity of a disease. Conservatism is, ultimately, an idea, one question dogging American conservatism, even through the course of generations, is its relationship with supremacism. Indeed, it is why blunt assertions↗ or complaints of conflation↗ trying to separate the results we experience today from the history that leads to it feel hollow, a little bit desperate, and even abetting.

And as an achilles heel, this is quite a conservative condition: The idea that they are preparing to call it off ought not be within the bounds of reasonably possible discourse, but the impetus, the inertia, is the descent of certain traditional circumstance which, having been functionally institutionalized and thus within an authority structure—i.e., an organization or arrangement of elements in functional relationships that preserve civil society and allow it to operate—conservatives seek to retain or conserve. Consider, for instance, Rashid's suggestion that conservatives "just don't want Black people to have access to" certain societal benefits. Once upon a time, conservative sentiments about the Miranda decision were complex, but the question of conservative disdain for that Supreme Court decision was supposed to be about law enforcement institutions. Meanwhile, these decades later, the apparent racism that was supposed to be a separate thing, of sorts, ends up being part of what conservatives sought to conserve.

There is an idea that the GOP has become a post-policy political party, but to what degree is this thing that drives that outcome part of what has carried American conservatism for over forty years? It's one thing to pretend supremacism has nothing to do with conservatism, but the question remains why the identity politics of white-, male-, and Christian supremacism are the most consistent aspect of the conservative politic over the course of generations.


¹ cf., Nelson, 2017↱: "How do you engage with someone who doesn't just not care if their aggressive political stances upset you, but wants you to get upset—someone for whom 'this makes people upset' is actually the whole reason to have that stance in the first place?"​

@QasimRashid. "How many people realize that white conservatives benefit more than any other demographic from the exact same policies they condemn." Twitter. 21 October 2022. 22 October 2022.

Nelson, K. T. "Trump Fans Are Owning Libs by Losing All Their Friends". Vice. 21 November 2017. 22 October 2022.