For a Kinder, Gentler Society
American Conservative
Reclaiming Conservatism From the Right
  • Augustus P. Lowell
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
American Conservative. Reclaiming Conservatism From the Right
Sound Bite

Carson? Christie? Rubio? Cruz? Trump? This is the best we can do? This is what passes for conservatism these days? When did that once-honorable political tradition become so narrow, boorish, and ignorant?

It’s time to take the conversation back. Conservatism can be intelligent and thoughtful. There is an alternative to the excesses of liberalism that doesn’t require us to turn the clock back a century, that isn’t tied to religion, that embraces a responsibility for society and culture, that isn’t terrified of change, and that speaks to the commonalities we share instead of dividing us into tribes. Conservatives and liberals could work together if they would take an honest look both at each others’ beliefs and at their own.


About the Author

A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Lowell has been studying political philosophy for 30 years, academically and through direct personal social experience with both conservatives and liberals.

After serving in the Air Force as an officer in the U.S. space program, he became a “serial entrepreneur.” He is co-founder of a Silicon Valley technology consultancy.

About the Book

Are you conservative but tired of having to defend your conservatism by explaining what it is not?

Are you liberal but troubled by calls from liberal peers to support authoritarian policies asserted in the name of liberalism?

...

Are you conservative but tired of having to defend your conservatism by explaining what it is not?

Are you liberal but troubled by calls from liberal peers to support authoritarian policies asserted in the name of liberalism?

Are you convinced that liberals and conservatives must find ways to work together in the national interest and, yet, afraid that they are temperamentally incapable of doing so?

Then this is a book for you.

For it asks: “What is conservatism?” And it answers that conservatism is not what its most ardent and self-proclaimed spokesmen claim it to be. It answers that conservatism is not a mere muddle of crackpot beliefs shouted by narrow-minded bigots, but a reasoned, reasonable, coherent, and legitimate way of understanding political society. It answers that conservatism can speak to those on the political left as much as to those on the political right, if only both are willing to listen.

In the 2016 Presidential primary season, half the Republican candidates were clowns and the rest were, if not actually clowns, giving every appearance of bowing to the ringmaster and piling into the clown car.  They called themselves conservative but their understanding of what that means seemed shallow and opportunistic.  Theirs was a parody of conservatism that mocked the real thing.

Yet it seems most people take them at their word and grant them the authority they assert for themselves: not merely that they are "conservative" but that their brand of conservatism is the entirety of conservatism; not merely that they are "conservative" but that they speak for all conservatives. It is infuriating. And it is wrong.

There are many books about politics, but most of them contain either dryly academic pedantry or overtly partisan persuasion. This book is neither. It is a polemic, of a sort, but the intent is not to persuade people to vote conservative or that conservatism is completely right. It is to persuade people that conservatism has something worthwhile to say to them, that conservatism is not what its most abhorrent spokesmen claim it to be. The intent is to change the conversation. If that changes the outcome, so much the better.


Introduction
There are things in this book that will stir people up: despite my conservatism, I don’t deny that government can and does produce things; I say business subsidies are anti-Capitalistic; I describe the religious right as “Theocratic Socialists”; I assert that Neo-Conservatives are especially scary precisely because of their liberalism; I assert...
There are things in this book that will stir people up: despite my conservatism, I don’t deny that government can and does produce things; I say business subsidies are anti-Capitalistic; I describe the religious right as “Theocratic Socialists”; I assert that Neo-Conservatives are especially scary precisely because of their liberalism; I assert that there is a way in which conservatives have a better claim on social conscience than liberals do; I present a conservative argument for establishing an economic safety net for the poor; I challenge the NRA to take responsibility for solving the problem of gun violence by establishing and operating a gun registry; I claim abortion advocates and gun rights advocates should be natural allies because they are both championing individual autonomy; I claim that libertarians and communists share an impractical idealism; I assert that, contrary to the popular perception, liberalism is fundamentally an emotional ideology and conservatism is fundamentally an intellectual one.

This is a book about ideas, not about politics or candidates and only incidentally about policy. However, it is not a traditional book about ideas that traces its subjects through history and from the various intellectual movements that spawned them. Instead, it simply states the ideas and explains them: “This is what certain types of conservatives believe. This is why. That is what other types of conservative believe. That is why. This is what they think liberals believe, and here is why they don’t like it. And this is what it all leads to.” It is intended for an audience that cares about how ideas affect them, not necessarily an audience that cares about ideas as an intellectual pursuit. I promise there is very little reminiscing, no nostalgia, and no genuflection to ‘conservative’ heroes of the past. There are only two mentions of Ronald Reagan, and those only in passing.

The book is fully rooted in contemporary American political experience and uses analogies and examples from current popular topics to illustrate its points. It is designed to connect with people who are struggling to make sense from the muddle of modern political conversation.

The intent is to provide a thorough and broad overview of various threads of conservatism – and to emphasize that those threads don’t always tie together neatly – so people can ask themselves which parts of conservatism make sense to them and which ones don’t, and so they can ask the same question of the candidates when it comes time to vote.

It is my belief that, if people do that, they will discover there are things conservatives and liberals actually agree on. It is my belief that, if people do that, we could have less politics and more governance.



Pages 286
Year: 2016
BISAC: POL042020 POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-243-9
Price: USD 20.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-244-6
Price: USD 30.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-1-62894-245-3
Price: USD 20.95
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