I’ve been reading “Buckley: The Right Word,” a compilation of the interviews and writings of William F. Buckley Jr. He was the founder and editor of the National Review and host of “Firing Line.” He is recognized as the ideological forefather of Ronald Reagan and during the ’70’s and ’80’s was the only conservative voice in town (DC). I think his observations on conservativism as an ideology and how they contrast with liberals is interesting–especially in light of President Bush’s nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.
The following is taken from an interview by Mona Charen of WFB which ran on 17 August 1979 for Columbia University’s yearbook, “The Columbian.”
In response to the liberal accusation against conservatives that they are merely “reactionaries” WFB responded,
“…conservatives are guided substantially by prescriptive reactions. One can, for example, register a disapproval of the proliferation of pornography without experiencing the necessity to externalize one’s thoughts in theoretical parades. The liberals, on the whole, would rather write than think; let alone act.”
He continues, “a conservative in my judgement is guided less by absolutes than by presumptions. That is to say, there is a presumption against state interference, not an absolute law.”
With Alito’s nomination it is important to note that conservatives can be at least mildly supportive of a woman’s right to choose while being opposed to the jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade. Just because this column happens to oppose Roe AND abortion (with exceptions) does not mean that someone who would vote to overturn Roe must be anti-abortion or pro-life. In fact, this seems to be the position of Justice Breyer–a liberal who is pro-choice but anti-Roe.
The position Alito holds that ought to build majority support among Americans–liberal, conservative or otherwise–simply because because he judicial philosophy is process rather than outcome based.
That said, this nomination could still end in filibuster and, inevitably, the so-called “nuclear option.”