Washington Monthly Blogger: Conservatives View American Institutions Not With ‘Respect,’ But With ‘Paranoia’

In the present, liberals vehemently oppose what conservatives stand for (and vice versa, of course). But do liberals believe there was a time when conservatism was somewhat reasonable, or at least not appalling? Washington Monthly blogger Martin Longman offered an answer in a Friday post: It was “the reaction to FDR’s New Deal” that crystallized the suspicious, radical conservatism of today.

“Conservatism is supposed to revere institutions,” commented Longman. “But what institutions has Movement Conservatism respected?...Not Congress or the federal government. Not the Supreme Court. The Office of the Presidency is respected only when it is in the hands of a conservative…What characterizes the conservative attitude to our institutions isn’t respect but paranoia.”

From Longman’s post (bolding added):

I do get annoyed…when folks insist that the words “conservative” and “conservatism” used to have a nobler meaning and that they’ve been hijacked. We’ve been living with the “Conservative Movement” for too long now for me to buy that garbage…

…I’d trace that movement to the reaction to FDR’s New Deal…

Conservatism is supposed to revere institutions, although the American version makes an exception for the throne. But what institutions has Movement Conservatism respected?

Not Congress or the federal government. Not the Supreme Court. The Office of the Presidency is respected only when it is in the hands of a conservative. It would be ludicrous to assert that Ted Cruz has shown any respect for any American institution, or even for the norms of any American institution.

Go down the list: The IRS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Interior, the ATF…

What characterizes the conservative attitude to our institutions isn’t respect but paranoia.

And the same is true for multilateral organizations like the United Nations, NATO, and even (at times) our armed forces.

The only institutions that conservatives have fairly consistently respected are religious institutions, and, even then, only the institutions of certain religions

…Cruz…Rubio…Christie…Paul Ryan…Mitch McConnell…

None of these folks are “conservative” in any kind of Lincolnesque or Burkean way. Neither were George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters