Andrew Sullivan reminds me of the older meaning of conservatism here.
I get unduly emotional reading notes like Sullivan’s – it suggests a world that has all but completely slipped from view, because angry, insane and venal people have managed to redefine a word.
In fact, what happened to ‘conservative’ is just like what happened to the word ‘hacker.’ Hackers used to be the pragmatic smart guys, the (technological) adults in the room who knew how to make things better in steps, sometimes brilliantly so, while ameliorating technology’s worst effects. Now, of course, hackers are criminals.
It’s no coincidence that how I define my personal politics, hackerish, is a kissing cousin to Sullivan’s brand of conservatism. Both are true because they do a good job of dealing with the world as it is and not as our ideological fantasies would have things. Unfortunately, both must also fight for their honor.