Fabian Conservatism

American Thinker | by Bruce Walker | Jan. 18, 2010

Conservatives, who constitute the overwhelming majority of Americans, are angry with the Republican Party leadership and how politics has been played since Ronald Reagan left office. Often Republican nominees have seemed to copy Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” — strategically placing themselves as the arbitrators between conservatives and leftists. Sen. John McCain luxuriated for years in fawning media coverage of his “independence” from conservatives. George H. Bush, as soon as the Gipper was gone, promised to move us to a “kinder, gentler” — more moderate — America. Specter and Jeffords switched parties at critical times. Who trusts Republican leaders? Not serious conservatives, who have been burned so many times.

The question, though, is what to do? Many conservatives have long seemed to harbor the attitude that without a revolution now, we are doomed. That assumes that we must transform America in the next couple of years, and that we will have the opportunity to do so.

The present sorry state of our country did not begin with Obama or Clinton or even LBJ. The cure for the plague of Leftism will come in steps. Conservatives who want every good reform implemented now will become sad, demoralized, and bitter. There is no need for that. We must instead become “Fabian Conservatives.”

The left moved the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave into the Land of the Taxed and the Home of the Slave by adopting Fabian Socialism. There is a reason today why Obama is not pushing for an absolute revolution like Lenin or Hitler sought: Obama practices Fabian Socialism. He works to erode our liberties step by step. He tries to create constituencies who may not be socialist themselves, but who will become addicted to some program in the socialist agenda. This is what conservatives should do. We should give clusters of Americans a new vested interest in those three pillars of conservatism: federalism with robust states’ rights, small and limited government at all levels, and the influence of Judeo-Christian moral values in all our institutions.

Fabian Conservatism means always moving to the right when we can and never supporting the left, but it also means that the transformation of America will come in increments. Fabian Conservatism means sometimes finding strange bedfellows (making common cause with leftists who have a particular ax to grind).

Here is an example of that: Vermonters have formed a secessionist ticket of state government candidates. These folks want to withdraw from America because our nation is not Marxist enough. Conservatives ought to believe strongly in states’ rights, so we should agree with these radical Vermonters on this principle: The citizens of states, rather than the majority of Americans, ought to have the right to decide how the state is governed. States’ Rights, in fact, is an ideal agenda for conservatives selectively pulling leftists into ad hoc support for our goals. Socialist Vermonters and conservative Utahans both have an interest in having their own citizens exercise primary policy power in their states.

Conservatives should also push hard for federal legislation that outlaws gerrymandering in congressional and in state legislative districts. We should do this even though redistricting after the 2010 elections may slightly favor Republicans. Why? Historically, gerrymandered districts have not only been used to keep artificial Democrat majorities in the House, but also to protect nearly all congressmen — Democrat or Republican — from losing reelection. Gerrymandered districts are part of the Incumbency Protection Plan of Washington. States can stop gerrymandering, but most have not. Why not push for an end to it at the federal level?

Why not push now for a restoration of the federal income tax deduction for medical expenses? This was effectively removed for millions of Americans when the threshold of expenses before deductions was raised to amounts above 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income in the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Allowing all medical expenses, including insurance, to be tax-deductible would allow ordinary Americans to be able to select and buy their own medical services with no government involvement. Many millions of Americans would immediately and significantly benefit from this change, which would have the federal government subsidize through tax deductions privately chosen medical expenses. Hospitals, drug companies, doctors, and many other providers would like this — there is no deduction unless medical costs are paid — and once put back in the tax code, it would be hard to take out.

These and other proposals need to create an automatic constituency who will continue to support the reform in the future. If we had now strong federal safeguards of states’ rights, fair legislative district boundaries, a flowering of faith-based solutions to social problems, and a restoration of the medical tax deduction, each reform would begin an institutional reformation of America in the direction of limited and local government and private choice in medical care — not revolutionary changes, but rather, evolutionary changes.

We, the overwhelming majority, can reclaim America, but not in one great battle or bloody revolution. What we want instead is to be a powerful current of water, always moving America to the right, making some changes regularly and never permitting them to be lost. We must become Fabian Conservatives.

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