[C]onservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.
The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata.
Mere unthinking negative opposition to the current of events, clutching in despair at what we still retain, will not suffice in this age. A conservatism of instinct must be reinforced by a conservatism of thought and imagination.
So what happened?
How did society move from a point where those principles stood as longstanding anchors in the foundation of conservative political philosophy to so much bitterness, often-times hysterical nonsense, combined with knee-jerk opposition and willful obstruction today?
I'll admit at the outset: I'm an unabashed progressive/liberal. The perspective from which I view political discourse nowadays is framed by those strong leanings. I'm certain that my own biases and beliefs contribute to my consternation about conservative behavior and ideology.
I don't always understand the motivations of right-wing arguments. Too often, my first instinct is to ridicule what I see as so much inane, thoughtless fear-mongering and narrow-minded rancor serving no purpose. Not helpful, I admit.
We may view ourselves as belonging to certain groups with what we perceive to be clear boundaries and conditions for inclusion. But in the end, we each share an arguably common set of ambitions: peaceful existence; some measure of prosperity; a healthy dose of happiness for ourselves and our families, guided always by the hope that there's one better opportunity--at least one better tomorrow--just around the corner.
But the realities are different. We cannot solve common problems if we can't agree first on the facts; the nature of the problems; or whether we even have problems to begin with. The truth is we do have any number of challenges ahead. Ideologies afford no protection from those realities. Mouthing the talking points without bothering to understand is a waste of time and breath.
As citizens, we owe it to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation, to understand not so much the nuts and bolts of policy, but what drives each political camp, and where we all wind up when decisions are made.
Who "wins"? Who does not? It's important to understand the answers to those inquiries.
Change is upon us. The partisan philosophies liberals and conservatives each defend so vigorously must now take a back seat to practical, cooperative problem-solving.
We have some unpleasant issues to accept and address--not the least among them a distressed middle class, a warming planet, and energy-supply restraints.
Dealing with these and other national challenges to the best of our collective abilities, regardless of the beliefs we cling to in an abstract environment where outcomes never matter, is the task at hand. Sooner would be better.