Auster’s got a bit with an old NR ad that sums up the whole trouble with modern American conservatism.
The implication of this ad is that William F. Buckley is going to tell you the uncomfortable truth. And this is the whole attitude of American conservatives since the 60’s- that leftism is moral, and good, and well-intentioned, it is just wrong. Everything conservatives say can be said to start with “Yes, but….”
Yes, welfare is good, but may keep people from working. Yes, we can educate everybody but we need to have better schools. Yes, criminals can be rehabilitated, but only with longer prison sentences.
Mainstream conservatives don’t even realize it, but they concede not just the moral high ground, but all the moral ground to leftists. Their only objections are practical.
This is probably because mainstream conservatives are just liberals who don’t want the government to go too far. I don’t like the term “neoconservative” because it is trite. Strictly speaking, “neoconservative” refers to a handful of Jewish communists who became disillusioned with liberalism. But on some level, this describes most conservatives. Most conservatives have been ex-liberals or the intellectual children of ex-liberals. Ronald Reagan was a New Deal Democrat until an advanced age. He only became a conservative while as a union president he became disgusted with communist manipulation of the Screen Actors Guild.
Modern, mainstream, neo-conservatives are the right half of the New Deal. Their issues are only over management.
I do not concede that leftism is legitimate or moral, that it is well-intentioned but sometimes naive. It is none of those things. It is an evil doctrine motivated by the desire to have total control over people and society.