Paleoconservatism and Practical Politics

Writing in Modern Age, Richard J. Bishirjian concludes an essay on "Why I Am A Conservative" with this peroration:

How, then, do we successfully save a public space for ordered living? First, of course, we must educate ourselves in the wonderful literature of the West and in the recovery of philosophy that émigré conservative scholars from Western Europe brought to this nation when they were exiled from West, East, and Central Europe. And once having educated ourselves, we can commence the work that is necessary to preserve and grow private institutions—including private colleges and universities—voluntary associations, privately held businesses that employ family members, and other forms of community—including churches and synagogues—that traditionally act as buffers between our private lives and the centralized administrative state. And we must break up the monopoly of public education!

We must also aspire to enlarge and enrich civil society by reducing the scope of governmental agencies, programs, corps, and their intrusive oversight of our private lives. Can we not have a flat tax? And what about privatization of Social Security and the FAA’s air traffic control? A consistent policy of outsourcing of government services that can best be performed by the private sector must become basic policy of the American government. And the Republican Party, if there is one left after the election of 2008, must take tax reform seriously, including capital gains tax reform. At the margins of this effort to reduce the state, we must ask if there is any reason why our national historical parks should not be turned over to private entities committed to the preservation of history? When I visit King’s Dominion, Busch Gardens, or Six Flags I see what private enterprise can do to entertain thousands of persons daily. But visit Bunker Hill, Appomattox, or Yorktown Battlefield, and you see 1950s technology and the mentality of government wardens.

Now here's what I find interesting. Earlier in the essay, Bishirjian - good paleocon that he is - goes on a tear against the contemporary conservative movement, complete with a sneering reference to the jingos in "mass media Talk Radio." Yet when it comes time to advance a domestic political agenda - one that's in keeping with European philosophy, "ordered living," and the Great Tradition of the West - his proposals are essentially identical to Rush Limbaugh's preferred domestic policy! (Allowing for the idiosyncratic riff about our national parks, of course.) This isn't necessarily an inconsistent approach to politics - somebody can be completely wrong in one sphere, and completely right in another - but I think it ought to jar Bishirjian enough for him to at least consider the possibility that the Limbaugh approach to conservative governance isn't the only one there is.