A "proud conservative" writes:
I'm a 29 year old, lifelong conservative Republican, and Roman Catholic from Pennsylvania. I'm not sure I agree with you 100% on everything, but I appreciate your intellectual honesty - with yourself and with your readers. I used to be a huge Rush Limbaugh/Rick Santorum kind of Republican. I supported the war in Iraq. Voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. I was disappointed by your endorsement of John Kerry, but I realized what a difficult decision that was for you.
I didn't completely understand it at the time, but now I do. You recognized the failings of the President and his cabal and the failings of Republicans in Congress long before the rest of us did. I began to move away from the far-right wing of the party when I realized how politicians used wedge issues like gay rights, abortion, guns, and flag burning to turn out the vote. Once they retained their power, they let the issues die, as they fully knew they would. Combined with the corruption in Washington, and the President's inability to admit he's wrong, I began to question my own beliefs.
Your writings on the role of faith and fundamentalism in politics has been an eye-opener to me. Your articulation of a more authentic conservatism - the conservatism of Reagan and Goldwater and Thatcher - has made me question my own beliefs and question what it truly means to be a conservative. Consequently, as I near my 30th birthday, I find myself moving away from people like Rush and Rick, and towards what I hope is a more honest and humbler political philosophy.
I believe in smaller government. I believe in efficient government. I believe in honest government. I believe in reason informed by faith. I believe in politics, informed by faith, but not ruled by it. I believe in the principles of government as set forth by the Founding Fathers. I believe ours is not a Christian nation, and it never was. It is a nation built on the ideals of the Enlightenment. Ideals born in Judeo-Christian thought, but tempered by secular reason and rationality.
The case for just such a renewed and vigorous conservatism - optimistic and inclusive and modern - is made in my book. Agree or disagree, I hope it helps further and deepen the debate now raging.