Friday, March 29, 2013
Separating the conservative men from the libertarian boys on the marriage issue
It is hard to determine how many of these people are really abandoning their principles and how many of them never really held the principles they claimed to hold in the first place. It may sound uncharitable to limit the possibilities to only these two, but it is hard to justify any other explanation.
The timing alone is evidence for the charge of political opportunism. When someone changes his mind on an issue when it is not popular to do so, we are much more likely to believe that it was a real change of heart. But when it is done at a time that makes it the politically convenient thing to do, we should be suspicious.
Remember, we're trying to be charitable.
George Washington is said to have been disgusted at the lack of fortitude of his troops early in the Revolutionary War because of their penchant for fleeing at the least hint of opposition. The conservative movement is now having the opposite problem: Right now conservative troops are being trampled by their own officers who, having abandoned their posts in the culture war, are running as fast as they can from the front.
When it comes to the Roves of the movement, it seems pretty clear that they never held any other principles than political opportunism.
In the case of the Frums, we are looking at people who have principles, just not the ones they once pretended to have. There was little to prevent them from turning tail and running in the first place. They are libertarians. They're just reverting to ideological equilibrium. They are like conscript troops from conquered territory: Once the balance of power shifts back the other way, their native loyalties reassert themselves--the aggravating factor, of course, being that the Roves and Frums were not conscripts: They were volunteers.
They were never conservatives to begin with. And it would have been nice to know before the shooting started.