Daniel Orazio, Commentary Editor
Isn’t conservative cable news and talk radio so very disappointing? Doesn’t the thoughtful conservative long for more variety of opinion on the Right?
Sure, since the Left dominates the rest of the media so thoroughly, Fox and Rush serve a real purpose, but one wonders sometimes whether they don’t do more ill than good. I suspect that liberals who tune in to Rush and Hannity conclude pretty quickly that conservatives are enthralled to the free market and would rather shout than engage their opponents in intelligent discourse.
Moreover, what swing voter surveying the conventional conservative media sees anything other than un-swaying war hawks, ever-ready to wage war “with the ultimate goal,” in the words of George W. Bush’s dreamy Second Inaugural, “of ending tyranny in our world”?
Happily, there is more to American conservatism than shock jocks and interventionists.
Have you ever visited frontporchrepublic.com? It is a wonderful website, conservative in its political leanings but no friend to the Republican Party. Its tagline is “Place. Limits. Liberty.” and it is a forum for writers who love their home, have modest expectations from politics and are resistant to spilling young men’s blood overseas. They concern themselves with politics, yes, but also with such matters as “The Economics of Splitting Wood by Hand” (John Cuddeback) and such questions as “Where Will You Die?” (Mark Mitchell), to cite two recent pieces.
If you visit the Front Porch Republic, be sure to read Patrick Deneen’s introductory essay, “A Republic of Front Porches.” Do take a look at Anthony Esolen’s essays about “Life Under Compulsion,” the most recent being a superb critique of the new Common Core English Language Arts Standards. And don’t miss the series of reader submissions called “The View From Your Front Porch.” Jake Meador’s from Lincoln, Neb., and Hannah Piecuch’s from Lexington, Mass., are two of my favorites.
In the Front Porch Republic you’ll find no sacred cows; its inhabitants carry no water for libertarian economics or for neoconservative foreign policy. As such, the website provides a useful complement to Reason and Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard, the flagship libertarian and neoconservative magazines.
The flagship paleoconservative publication is probably The American Conservative. Patrick J. Buchanan is a co-founder, and just so, because “Pat Buchanan” is almost the definition of “paleoconservatism,” that segment of the movement that opposes mass immigration, free trade and endless wars in the Mideast. These are the conservatives who critiqued the Iraq War and the Patriot Act with as much passion as anybody at The Nation.
If you’re new to the magazine, I recommend J.P. Zmirak’s 2003 essay, “America the Abstraction,” and the magazine’s 2006 forum, “What is Left? What is Right? Does it Matter?” in which, at the nadir of the Bush presidency, a wide range of journalists, authors and academics gave thoughtful answers to those important questions. Both are available online.
An endless pleasure for me is Rod Dreher’s blog, found on the magazine’s website. I think I like Dreher as much as I do because he is so honest and real a writer. A fine example is his recent post, “What I Grew Up Not Talking About,” which is about growing up in newly desegregated Louisiana. Dreher is also plain fun, as witnessed by his series called “View From Your Table,” in which readers send in delicious photographs of meals they’ve been cooking, complete with tantalizing descriptions.
These posts seem to me as important as his others: Conservatism is not a policy proposal, after all, but something more like a perspective on life, one that ought to value what is simple, essential, near and dear, and be skeptical of “bigness” in all its forms (Big Business not excluded).
You’ll find many good writers at Front Porch Republic and The American Conservative who value these things. If you grow tired of the mainstream conservative media, or simply want to balance your reading of the more conventional Weekly Standard and Commentary (both good magazines worth reading), then do give these alternatives a look. You’ll find to your delight that they avoid the blowhardism of Fox and talk radio and scorn the monotony of the neoconservative consensus.