The very essence of traditional philosophical conservatism is to preserve in society that which has traditionally worked; to spurn intemperate change and impetuous revampings in favor of upholding the established order while also allowing for inevitable yet incremental changes to that order, since society itself is a naturally evolving — i.e., changing — organism. As in progressivism, empiricism rules: Don't tamper with whatever is working, leave well enough alone, and unexamined adventurism can bite one in one's butt.
Over the past 50 odd years, we've watched these fundamental, organic principles of conservatism in conservatism decay. In place of reasoned, empirically founded principles have come fanatical ideologies — ways of thinking by not thinking; indeed, never having to think. In Goldwaterism, rhetorical simplicities replaced the burdens of sociopolitical complexities; in Reaganism, wistful optimism supplanted hardened fiscal realities; and in Bush IIism, an unyielding world was seen as bending to America's will because … Bush-Cheney willed it.
Though roundly disparaged, pseudo- or post-conservatism's trickle-down has been marvelously effective. From high above, ideological authorities from Phyllis Schlafly to Arthur Laffer to Paul Wolfowitz aligned with political muck-a-mucks and both camps proceeded to piss their mindless doctrines on the already unthinking rubes throughout the republic. For the latter, nothing could be more welcome than a political philosophy that required no mental exertion. Pitiable case in point? The wretched state of affairs among the political "leadership" promoted from the ranks of the rubes of the state of Kansas.
Notwithstanding a predictable 400-million-dollar budget shortage, economic stagnation, educational butchery and general chaos as a result of doctrinal insanity, Republican legislators are perplexed and know not where to turn. "Some believe that income taxes are off limits and that they should raise sales taxes to shoulder the entire burden," reports the NYT. "Others advocate a mixed approach and said income taxes should be on the table." But, says the chairman of the Senate’s tax committee, "I’m not in favor of raising taxes. I’d much rather be able to see growth take care of what we do."
That's the spirit.
Other Republicans "are not necessarily willing to concede that the [original tax] cuts were the reason for the state’s fiscal problems." Said one — another senator: "It’s my goal to not raise taxes. We have to let the private sector breathe and operate as freely as possible because that is the revenue driver."
Now there's a pol for whom empiricism is truly the Devil.
Meanwhile, each day of these post-conservatives' certainty and countervailing puzzlement is adding $40,000 in legislative costs to the state's budget hole. But what the hell. Their minds are on higher things, such as just how low can modern conservatism sink.
My money is on a sales tax, seeing that that would inflict the most grievous harm on Kansas' neediest. One can ridicule modern conservatism and lament its Fall from any previous grace, yet one must admit: It does have its "philosophical" priorities.