Guest post: There could be conservative political virtues

Originally a comment by Jeff Engel on Still never.

President Clinton would have made for a glorious 4-8 years of moaning and crying from the right, able to pick on every peccadillo and declaim about the moral superiority of the Republican Party who – they’d be happy to say – ultimately rejected Trump while the Democrats embraced Her Satanic Majesty. So yeah, it’s not that expensive being a Never Trumper from the op-ed pages.

Still – I don’t believe I can take fully seriously the complaints about Trump’s character combined with the delight in his policies. Bullying, pettiness, aggressive ignorance – these are the same things that will underlie the preferred conservative society of “ordered classes”, people “knowing their place”, and the eager trampling of every protection against well-understood environmental threats. Crassness, bigotry – again, where else do you suppose the dismantling of minority protections comes from? Toadyism as the form of public service – this is what comes of the tireless elevation of business culture as the model of efficiency to which government should aspire, and setting the lobbyists to work drafting the regulations for their industries.

There could be conservative political virtues. There’s a lot to be said for preserving working institutions and reforming them carefully, rather than replacing them wholesale; for insisting on genuine character in leaders and for acknowledging it respectfully regardless of policy differences; for regarding society as an organism more than a mechanism and treating governance as more the work of a doctor than an engineer.

Bret Stephens really could have had all of that with a President Hillary Clinton. He wouldn’t have the policies he’s crowing about, precisely because those come from the vices he supposedly condemns.

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