Postmodern Conservative

Candidates Republican and Socialist

Here’s a pretty savvy handicapping of the Republican candidates for president at this point. I know all America wants to know who I’m for, but like all good citizens I’m deferring judgment until far later in the lengthy screen test called the nomination process. I agree that for now Rubio and Bush are simply the most plausible presidents, although I have grave reservations about each — both as a candidate and as our chief executive.

I wish Christie ranked higher, but the studies really do show him fading. There’s something to be said for the proposition that Christie has the right demographic profile for victory — Northern, Catholic, vaguely industrial, tough on this and that, and on the key issues pretty conservative (that is, not Giuliani). Still, he hasn’t established his brand very well on the integrity front, and his outreach to Evangelicals, Southerners, and libertarians will have to get much more effective very quickly.

I also agree with the high ranking for Huckabee. My evidence: George Will’s recent hit job on Huck shows that the libertarian wing of the party fears his prowess as a (relatively) charismatic and actually highly intelligent candidate. I do agree with a  moderate view of the criticism that he is too religious to bring together a majority coalition in November. I’m also still reeling from how quickly he compromised himself after a moment of success in the 2008 primary and caucus season. It’s also unclear whether it’s possible to move from talk-show host to president. And Huckabee does have some goofy economic ideas. We’ll see whether he can bring the old gang together in Iowa and then “pivot” in a more moderate or even more classically Republican direction. Probably but not definitely not.

My criticism of Cruz along those prudential lines is a lot less moderate.

President Walker at this point just doesn’t ring true to me, but we’ll see.

Just to make sure I lose all of  what’s left of my small fan base: I’m not at all repulsed by Bernie Sanders the guy, and I wish him well in outing the corporatist–Silicon Valley core of the Clinton–Obama Democratic party. I find some old-fashioned socialists more classy in both good and bad ways than, say, Bill Gates. At least they’re not transhumanists and, in some cases (say, Irving Howe), have had some deep respect for the great tradition of liberal education. The error of socialists, of course, is thinking that human excellence in all its forms would flourish as a result of the socialization or collectivization of the mode of production. And we true conservatives are against all forms of obsessive identity politics that understand the free and relational individual to be merely a part of of some impersonal class or category. Finally, socialist reform these days would be “reactionary” and ”counterproductive.” So one-half cheer for the socialist. For one thing, if he were by some miracle (or historical force) to become the Democratic nominee, presumably he would be very easy to beat.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

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