General Question

shilolo's avatar

Where have all the intellectual conservatives gone?

Asked by shilolo (17998points) May 3rd, 2010

More and more people, including many conservatives are lamenting the loss of an intellectual circle of conservatives. At a time when the USA faces many problems, it appears that fringe elements that evoke emotional rather than rational responses (think, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Tea Parties) have overtaken the conservative movement.

We need healthy debate, but that does not appear to be our current situation. So, where have all the truly intellectually curious conservatives gone? Has the notion that liberals are coastal “elitists” stifled conservative thoughts? Is the fervent anti-intellectualism of the Bush years responsible? Can something be done to establish a more vibrant conservative philosophy?

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47 Answers

Qingu's avatar

Glenn Beck is an intellectual. Sarah Palin described him as a great professor that everyone wishes taught their history class!

But seriously… William F. Buckley? The guy was an out and out racist douchebag. He was an intellectual in the sense that he managed to dress up his caveman opinions in an erudite-sounding veneer, but let’s not forget that the “intellectual” wing of the Republican party were the people who couldn’t compete in legitimate academia and so took their ball and went home.

janbb's avatar

David Brooks of The New York Times is the only name I can come up with. It is a sad state of affairs.

Qingu's avatar

Brooks is a moderate.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I’m guessing they want to distance themselves from the big bucket of crazy that McCain and Palin unearthed which later got together to form what we now refer to as Birthers and Teabaggers

mammal's avatar

Because there aren’t any, how many literary and philosophical heavyweights do you know with conservative leanings?

janbb's avatar

@Qingu Depends whether you’re standing to the left or right of him, but I take your point. I think he’s gotten somewhat more moderate since the advent of Obama but his orientation is basically Republican.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m a progressive, liberal, commie pinko, whatever you want to call it but I certainly would welcome a more intelligent debate on the conservative side. And I think the anti-intellectualism of the Bush administration was a reaction to, not a cause of. I’m not sure exactly what happened or when. At a certain point the base of the Republican party shifted with the growing power and voice of Christian conservatives, but there’s more to it than that.

mammal's avatar

@lillycoyote me too, but i suspect i could argue far more effectively from a conservative point of view than most self proclaimed ‘conservatives’. Conservatism is more like a faith than an intellectual stance, which is why it often encounters buckles when under a modicum of intelligent scrutiny.

MagsRags's avatar

How about David Will? I don’t agree with many of his positions, but he presents them well and I’m usually not mentally rolling my eyes as I read his editorials.

janbb's avatar

@MagsRags Do you mean Gary Will?

mammal's avatar

in this Country we have the brother of Chris Hitchens, Peter Hitchens who is a Christian Conservative, he is pretty effective and erudite, but he was a former socialist that discovered Religion. What about C.S Lewis? was he a conservative and John Betjeman.

MagsRags's avatar

oops. GEORGE Will

janbb's avatar

Right, that’s it.

gemiwing's avatar

I would love to see intelligent conservatives make a comeback. No one group should have all the say or the smarts.

I think there are still plenty of intellectual conservatives; they are laying low so as not to be smeared with the same brush as Fox news shills. I think once the conservatives stop paying so much heed and reverence to a moronic minority within their own culture- more intelligent people will come out of the woodwork.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

George Will? Charles Krauthammer? Kathleen Parker? I don’t know what it takes to be “intellectual” in your eyes, but those are three columnists who aren’t going away just yet. And they each write better than pretty much anyone on this site, myself included. Victor Davis Hansen is another excellent writer.

Lew Rockwell isn’t “conservative”; he’s libertarian, but he’s well spoken, and his website has a good collection of writers.

Just because you don’t look for them, read them, or pay attention to them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Nullo's avatar

We’re still here, just that the liberals don’t listen to us, since we’re not liberal enough.

Anon_Jihad's avatar

@Nullo Indeed. Sad thing really.

Modern day Republicans don’t seem to remember what the hell their party was built on. Thomas Jefferson was most assuredly “intellectual” or at least I seem to think so, but few who carry the name of the GOP seem to remember what made the G part of that acronym.

MagsRags's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I read all the editorials my paper offers, including Parker and Krauthammer. I respect Parker too , although I bet that many conservatives would also call her a moderate. Krauthammer not so much. I find him to be more of a demagogue.

gailcalled's avatar

(Gary Wills).

@janbb: And I see that David Brooks has allowed himself (somewhat reluctantly) to become more thoughtful, reasonable and measured. I admire many of his columns.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled Yes, to both. Brooks is often quite astute.

filmfann's avatar

While William F. Buckley was a CIA douchebag racist hack, he was an intellectual Conservative. He and George Will were both very learned.
Intellectualism in Conservatives, though, is a recessive gene. I agree that we are left with buffoons like Rush, Beck, O’Reilly, Hannety, and Palin. The smartest I can think of is Newt, and he just barely keeps his foot out of his mouth most of the time.
That said, I can’t think of too many Liberals who I would classify as Intellectual. Could it be that the intellectuals are drifting to the center?

Rarebear's avatar

David Brooks
George Will
Tony Blankley
Rich Lowry
Jonah Goldberg
David Frum
Christopher Buckley
David Goldhill
Michael Shermer
Christopher Hitchens (more neoconservative)
to name a few.

jerv's avatar

@Nullo Actually, I think it’s more like being considered stupid/insane by association. I consider it a pendulum-swing reaction to the Bush era, and I think people like you will be taken more seriously by 2012… maybe sooner if you can get Beck and Palin to STFU.

Rangie's avatar

The problem here is that the liberals haven’t learned _“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” _ And that includes the liberal media. So @gemiwing I wouldn’t say one group has all the smarts, if you are referring to the liberals that is. The proof is in the pudding. Just read some of the vicious name calling that nearly 90% of them spew.
Oh, the conservatives are there all right, they are intelligent enough, not to waste breath, time and effort on childish immature outburst of the liberal gibberish.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Rarebear and P.J. O’Rourke, just because he’s funny.

Rarebear's avatar

@Rangie “childish”, “immature”, “gibberish”, “waste breath”, “spew” Who is calling names here and being provocative?

@lillycoyote P.J! How could I forget him!

Rangie's avatar

@Rarebear I would classify my words as actions rather than name calling.I’m guessing they want to distance themselves from the big bucket of crazy that McCain and Palin unearthed which later got together to form what we now refer to as Birthers and Teabaggers
The liberals get down right mean verbally and physically. What is that all about?

Rarebear's avatar

@Rangie Have you seen Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Bill O’Reilly? Or perhaps you think their name calling isn’t really name calling.

Rangie's avatar

@Rarebear I would hardly say they represent all of the conservative people out there, would you?

Rarebear's avatar

@Rangie See my list above.
I can make a list just as long of erudite liberal intellectuals. The question, though, was about conservatives.

Rangie's avatar

@Rarebear Yes, I know, and I was saying why they are not out there exposing themselves to the abuse that some of the conservative are getting. Especially Fox News.

shilolo's avatar

@Rangie Wait, these conservative geniuses are so smart as to avoid participating in the national discourse for fear of being “attacked” and “smeared” by liberals? You must be kidding.

@Rarebear I know that there are a few out there, but you know quite well that the national discourse is being swamped by either the Glen Becks/Sarah Palins of the world or by those that have no ideas of their own (the Party of No). What we currently need are problem solvers with a backbone who are willing to think through and compromise on tough issues. Those people are lacking on the conservative side. You don’t need me to tell you about the health care debacle (death panels, socialized medicine, etc.) as one such example. Almost makes me pine for Reagan…. (almost).

Rangie's avatar

@shilolo It is hard to participate when there is a locked door. But, don’t you worry your little self, the conservatives are there and will pop their heads up when you least expect it. Just because they are not all out there making fools of themselves doesn’t mean they are just sleep their time away.

shilolo's avatar

@Rangie Do you seriously think that “there is a locked door” for conservatives? Where have you been for the past 20 years (until 2009)? From Bush in 1988–1992, Gingrich in 1992 on onward, Bush II from 2000–2008, there was an open door for conservatives. Indeed, there continues to be an open door, but conservative politicians would rather nail it shut than use it. Further, it was unfettered conservative policies fomented by Bush II that have gotten us into the mess we’re in. Hard to hide from history.

If you would, please educate me on the domestic policy initiatives proposed by conservatives to solve our current problems (i.e. the Bush depression, rising health care costs, immigration, housing, etc.) that don’t involve simply trying to obstruct liberal/moderate programs? I’m all ears.

By the way, saying “don’t you worry your little self is really not a very pleasant way to talk to someone. You’re lucky I have a thick skin.

Rangie's avatar

@shilolo I believe the question is asking where all the intellectual conservatives have gone. And forgive me if I don’t believe the OP was referring to 20 years ago. The current health care law was put together by the democrats behind closed doors, literally. They didn’t give the conservatives a chance to put forth or be a part of the plan.
Not copping out, but very tired, need to sleep. I will look on, in the morning.

Anon_Jihad's avatar

At the same time I’m trying to come up with intellectual liberals and I’m coming up just as dry.

jerv's avatar

@Rangie As I recall, it was actually a GOP plan from 1994. And the recent arms reduction talks that Obama had and formed a Nuclear reduction agreement that earned damnation from Palin and Fox was actually the same thing that Reagan did during his time in office; a ⅓ reduction. Of course, the Far Right also claimed that it would tie our hands and leave us defenseless in the event of a biological attack even though it said explicitly that the US retained the right to unilaterally amend the agreement in the event of a biological attack!

I bring that up merely to prove that the vocal group that passes themselves off as “Conservatives” these days lacks the intellect to even read English.

@Anon_Jihad Given that most Liberals are capable of understanding English and can perform basic math, that makes the average Liberal a fucking Einstein compared to the more outspoken Conservatives. Therefore, if we want to speak in relative terms, nearly all Liberals are intellectuals!
That said, I know for a fact that there are Conservatives that actually smarter than a Fifth Grader, but those types of Conservatives are not the ones you usually see in the spotlight. I honestly feel that Conservatives with brains are in the same boat as non-terrorist Muslims and non-pedophile Catholic priests; a few high-profile bad apples are ruining your images.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I will make the assumption that there are articulate, well educated people who strongly hold conservative views. I will assume that the strident, irrational and emotional conservatives are getting the attention of the media to the exclusion of the articulate intellectual conservatives.

As long as the the extremists dominate the discourse and depend on appeals to emotion rather than constructing plausible arguments well supported by reference to facts and evidence, the prospect of constructive discussion between conservatives and progressives seems disappointingly unlikely.

It is a sad fact that voters allow themselves to be swayed by emotional appeals even when they are inconsistent with the truth and are unsupported by facts.

Cruiser's avatar

I am currently a huge fan of Sandy Rios on the air here in Chicago. She explores the current hot political topics and family value issues and resents a clear unadulterated POV. She really gets to the heart of most matters and is laying bare raw issues to reorient the moral compass of our society.
http://townhall.com/columnists/SandyRios#ColumnistBio
http://www.culturecampaign.com/

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s one: Colin Powell. And it’s time the conservative intellectuals reclaim power in the GOP and tell ignorant folks like Sarah Palin that it does matter to know the names of a few well-known newspapers and that continuing the war on science would ultimately destroy the United States.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Colin Powell isn’t a conservative. Just ask Dick Cheney. :-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, Dick Cheney was vice president while Powell was secretary of state.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne I know it, I was kidding. I agree that Powell is a conservative in the classic sense. it’s just when Powell came out in support of Obama Cheney slammed him on Fox.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Rarebear – I don’t think Cheney is a conservative. He is a nutcase.

shilolo's avatar

@mattbrowne Wait?! What?! I thought those were synonymous…. ;-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Is there a promising younger conservative with a Colin Powell mindset?

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