A recent essay by P. J. O’Rourke in Cato’s Letter caught my attention and sent me back to Jonah Goldberg’s insightful book, Liberal Fascism, which I reviewed earlier this year. O’Rourke’s thesis, which parallels the essential message delivered by Goldberg, is that the problem in the conflict over issues in public discourse is politics; in other words, the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. This is historically a progressive notion, but has become almost equally shared by many who call themselves conservative, but who misconstrue conservatism properly defined, as Goldberg cautions: “What many conservatives fail to grasp is that conservatism is neither identity politics for Christians and/or white people nor right-wing Progressivism. Rather, it is opposition to all forms of political religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition.” And I would add that the extension of this sentiment is that government is not the answer to all of society’s crises.
So when conservatives of all stripes hear the monotonous outcry to our elected officials, “get it together and get something done”, they had best be careful what is being wished. How about Obama in the White House and a Democratic Congress with a filibuster-proof Senate and a couple more David Souters on the Supreme Court? It would take a couple of generations, if ever, to repair that disaster. So let’s hear it for gridlock, which may be the best outcome that some of us can hope for in this election year, and it would be much better than the most likely alternative.