The debates within conservatism
The Washington Post offers an interesting overview of the Hudson Institute's symposium with various conservative leaders. Here's a quote:
In written essays and in discussions, participants explored the continuing fissures within conservatism. They fell into two factions, one arguing that the state has an interest in managing the behavior and moral conduct of individuals, the other contending that individuals should be free to manage their own lives as long as they do not harm others.
The truth is, the vary narrow religious conservative viewpoint that is assumed to have taken hold in the country is actually not all that well-represented. They're just loud, and they're in the media. It heartens me to learn that even within the conservative wing there are vast disagreements over church and state, the Iraq war and the Bush doctrine of intervention, and care for the poor.
The symposium also addressed the moral dimensions of poverty. Robert Woodson Sr., founder of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, challenged the gathering:
"Let's suppose that the nation totally embraced the conservative vision. How would it affect, in practical ways, the plight of the least of God's children?"
Amazingly, the issue is on at least some of their radar screens-- although Pete DuPont's answer to this question seems shockingly underwhelming:
Pierre "Pete" du Pont, a member of the board of the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation, said school choice and vouchers are conservative policies that address Woodson's question. "If you gave them the opportunity to go to a school of their choice and opened the market up to creating those schools, there's a practical thing that you could do that would help the lower-income and the disadvantaged people in the country, and it would be individualism as opposed to the collectivism of the education system."
Ah, that's what it comes down to: Individualism vs. Collectivism. The Loner American looking out for himself vs. the diverse community working together, getting along, helping those with needs.