Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke

By Kit

“I think it probably shows how precarious things are for conservatives that we’re meeting in secret and you’re listening to a foreign radical talk about his little red book. With ‘Manifesto’ written on the front of it.”

Thus, Charles Cooke, National Review’s current resident posh, gun-loving Englishman, jokingly began a speech at the Heartland Institute speaking of his “little red book”, The Conservatarian Manifesto, which he offers as a possible way forward for the right in the early-21st century that combines many tenants of both conservatism and libertarians.

The book, Cooke writes, was inspired by meeting a number of conservatives, mostly young people, Gen-Xers and Millennials, who, like himself, found themselves feeling libertarians when around conservatives and feeling like conservatives when around libertarians. They lean towards libertarians on issues like the drug war and same-sex marriage but towards conservative on issues like foreign policy, abortion, and immigration with a strong support for federalism, or the right of the states, as well as local municipalities, to govern themselves. They are also tired of Republicans handling fiscal issues in a way that is anything but conservative.

By and large, I found myself agreeing with him.

I think states and local governments should, for the most part, be able to govern themselves. I think the drug war has gone too far and would like to see a rollback, my attitude towards same-sex marry is “eh, let ‘em have it” but I support a strong foreign policy and I am pro-life. The only point I feel I might have differed was on immigration and even then I am not a fan of open borders like libertarians are; I support a path to citizenship for illegals, provided clear penalties are involved, but also secure borders and regulated immigration.

One of the most interesting points is the one he raised on social issues. The left loves to treat current Big Three of social issues, gay rights, drug legalization, and abortion, as equal but he points out that they are each very different from each other —especially abortion. He argues that the debate on drugs is about how and in what way may the state intervene in the economy and what products, if any, may it ban. Same-Sex marriage is about what the role the state plays in “the institutions of civil society”.

Abortion, however, is about when life begins and under what circumstances is it moral to terminate a life. Those are a fundamentally different questions from the ones raised about gay marriage. Further, he points out that if you compare the generations, in some ways millennials are more pro-life than Boomers and Gen-Xers and that if the laws on abortion were done according to the public’s opinion then it would be fully legal only in the first trimester with exemptions in the 2nd and 3rd trimester involving cases of rape and danger to the health of the mother.

The only problem I had, and this are very minor problem, is that there are areas I wish he could have gone a bit more into detail. But the book is an overview, not a full-fledged, reference tome like Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics (a book you should all own). It has more in common with Karl Marx’s “little red book” from which it’s title borrows rather than, say, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations; a short, easy-to-read statement on what he and other young “conservatarians” believe.

And in that, it does well. It provides a good, strong path for the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general in the 21st century.


tryanmax said...

Kit, you should've ended the article by posing a question to prompt conversation. Or maybe a bullet list of the core conservatarian principles. As it stands, that's the only comment I have.

Critch said...

Wow, I raised 3 oldest is a little more Establishment, but the two younger ones are very libertarian.....all 3 have been or are in the military....gotta get the book. BTW, the NYT insinuates that if us Christians acted like Muslims when we were offended than maybe there wouldn't be pictures of Pope Benedict made out of condoms or statues of the Holy Virgin in bottles of urine splattered all over American tells me that the journalism industry has no backbone...

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Nice quote! :D

This ==> who, like himself, found themselves feeling libertarians when around conservatives and feeling like conservatives when around libertarians... is very insightful.

This is a problem I run into with conservative writers everywhere. They seem to fit into either camp (or the nutjob camp of people who are really neither but claim to be the only genoooine conservatives), and I find most of their views to be useless and unpalatable. Conservatives need to get that society is not nostalgic for a time that never was and that we are the freedom party, not the "government must stop you from sinning" party, and libertarians need to realize that government does have a point and that libertine is not the same thing as libertarian. Mad Max and Elmer Gantry should not the conservative ideal.

Frankly, we also need people who are less lazy. In particular, if you want to stop something like pot being legalized, then do the damn work to prove your case, don't just whine that it's bad and make up stories of people going insane from just looking at the devil's weed. How many decades did conservatives have to find any bit of proof that gays do bad things or that pot is harmful and not a single genuine study seems to have been done. That's how you lose by default.

And, still on lazy, we also need pundits who are willing to explain our beliefs to the public rather than assuming conservatism is intuitive.

Further, if we're going to reach Millennials, then we need to stop being grumpy about everything. Being the crotchy old bastard who screams off his porch at the passing kids how worthless they are only gets your house egged, it doesn't get you any respect.

Grr. Get off my lawn!!

AndrewPrice said...


This ==> the NYT insinuates that if us Christians acted like Muslims when we were offended than maybe there wouldn't be pictures of Pope Benedict made out of condoms or statues of the Holy Virgin in bottles of urine splattered all over American media... is true.

Why? Because then journalists would be living in fear, terrified of the next group of Christians who finish throwing gays off the Empire State Building to come by and hack to death any journalist who has offended them.

I wonder if that's what the NYT was thinking... and if they noticed the irony in that? "We would be better if we had to worry about you brutally murdering us if we weren't."

Maybe they want this?

Critch said...

Hey, how about a little respect for us crotchety old bastards?

AndrewPrice said...

I apologize to any crotchety old bastards I may have offended. LOL!

Critch said...

I've worked many years to become a curmudgeon..I'm not giving it up lightly.

On to bigger things. Bernie the commie packed a stadium in Madison, WI last night, not hard to do really in Madison, they're the epicenter for the Bolshevik Fan Club in the US. I fully expect that if he keeps up the momentum that Hillary will do her best to derail him. I don' think he's appealing to the Millennials like people think he is...she isn't either. If the GOP would grow a brain they could easily win the young vote

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I hate to break this to you, but I've seen your comments for many many months now and you are not the curmudgeon you think you are. :(

AndrewPrice said...

On Bernie, I think Bernie is just a sideshow who is making Hillary look bad. He's their version of Ron Paul tilting at windmills and never getting more than a protest vote.

As for Hillary, she strikes me more and more as the walking dead. She just doesn't seem to be able to get any support other than money.

I think O'Malley wins as the "holy crap we need someone else!" candidate.

Critch said...

Andrew, You're probably right abouit O'Malley...I just can't comment on him because I know next to nothing about him..except that he's just another Lefty.

AndrewPrice said...

O'Malley is a guy who appears clean (i.e. scandal free). He holds all the liberal positions. He can claim being a white guy elected in a black city. And he even is building an image of himself as a musician or something like that (can't remember what it was at the moment).

But the big thing he is, which Hillary is not, is not Hillary. He seems fresh and electable. Hillary seems worn out and unpopular.

tryanmax said...

When the media gets all aflutter about the conservatives' Millennial problem, it's just another way of saying that liberals have an everyone-else problem. I keep going back to the stat that Dems have about a 2-point edge among Millennials, which is slimmer than they are accustomed to with young voters.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm a believer that the Millennials are the new conservatives, and that isn't going to make anyone happy. It will infuriate liberals because the Millennials will outnumber everyone else soon and they have zero interest in race or gender wars or unions. It will upset social conservatives because Millennials are not that at all. It will upset libertarians because Millennials don't buy the anarchy world that libertarians are selling these days. They aren't adventurers either, so the neocons won't like them. And they are much more populist economically than the establishment likes.

Basically, they are everybody's worst nightmare.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. tryanmax, No sooner do we mention Millennials than Yahoo posts a story asking if some Millennial in Ohio can be their savor and bring them all into politics. Naturally, he's a Democrat.


This is more evidence that you are right. The MSM is treating Millennials as "mysteriously disinterested" because they aren't supporting the Democrats and they can't bring themselves to believe that Millennials might be... gasp conservatives!

Kit said...

I'll comment more in a minute, but it is worth remember that William F. Buckley supported marijuana legalization.

As does Thomas Sowell.

tryanmax said...

That's how the liberals do it. People who aren't interested in their politics must not interested in politics at all. I can appreciate the tactic, sending the message that the only way to be politically active is their way, and you want to be politically active, don't you??? It's an old tactic that the left made great use of in the 90s. Now it seems absurd in most contexts.

Kit said...

I think Hillary Clinton will win the nomination, simply because she has the inevitability thing going. But that does not mean she will win the general election.

Has anyone seen the more recent SNL Clinton sketch? LINK

And guess who makes a special appearance!

Kit said...


I think a fair number of conservatives get that we are the freedom party. I'm just not sure that a number of Republican politicians get that.

Koshcat said...

"Citizens, you will elect me! I will be your Leader!"

Too funny (and a little scary)

Anthony said...

I don't think O'Malley has a shot. He is just plain boring. So is Hillary, but she has the weight of 'inevitability' on her side (same as she did in 2008) and would be a first.

The fact Hillary believes her best chance to win is to say nothing about anything is hilarious. I'm sure she will run a historically negative campaign, but I doubt that will be enough to to put her in the Oval Office. Her only hope is that Trump or a similar clown wins the nomination.

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