Crunchy Con Manifesto Redux

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate Rod Dreher’s contributions to environmental discourse and advancing the better elements of conservativism.  Some may recall his work at National Review, where he was the king of Crunchy Con.  It’s difficult to improve upon his Manifesto, which I’m reposting here:

  1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
  2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
  3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
  4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
  5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
  6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
  7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
  8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
  9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
  10. Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.

I would love to hear from anyone, liberal or conservative, with ideas on how this set of guiding principles could be improved.

Good Life is About Connectedness

After celebrating an elementary and middle school graduation in our household this June, Sheara and I and the girls hit the road for the annual family pilgrimage to the coasts of North Carolina and Maine.  Two very special places, although each with its own traditions, cultures and meanings.  I used the time away to finish a couple of new books, including Rod Dreher’s, The Little Way of  Ruthie Leming.  An intense and profoundly moving story of life and death, but mostly the former, in small town America, this time in St. Francisville, Louisiana.  While it’s a moving story of Rod’s only sister, Ruthie, who tragically passed away in 2012 from cancer, it’s an account of the enduring values of family, faith and community – and human connectedness. Continue reading

Crunchy Con is Back – GOP break out your Birkenstocks

Thank you to Robert Costa over at NRO for this week resurrecting the term Crunchy Con.  Ever since Rod Dreher left NRO, I’ve missed his thoughtful and witty narrative on why it is okay for Republicans and conservatives to care about the environment.  sandlesSounds really silly I know, but so many on the political right have forsaken the conservative principles of conservation and environmental stewardship due to the unfortunate politicization of the topic.  During a talk last Friday at the Reagan National Library, Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian conservative, and self-described “crunchy conservative,” wasn’t holding back his respect and love for the environment.  Costa reports,

Long before he was famous for a filibuster, Senator Rand Paul was a  cargo-shorts-wearing ophthalmologist who lived in Bowling Green, Ky. His  political activity, beyond supporting his father, was relegated to reading  through his bookshelf, which was stocked with the works of Austrian economists  and obscure philosophers.  He wore hemp shirts, bought organic vegetables, and  canoed. But since winning his Senate seat three years ago, Paul has mostly kept  that side of himself — his “crunchy conservatism,” as he calls it — under wraps.  Instead, he has played up his tea-party persona, and focused on legislating in  the buttoned-down Senate.

Costa continues

Paul’s unabashed crunchiness — the term was popularized by former National Review writer Rod Dreher to describe some conservatives’ taste for granola, Birkenstocks, and Mother Nature — wasn’t just a stylistic aside. He argued that his lifestyle is a reflection of his reform agenda for the GOP, which is founded on themes of local control, states’ rights, and free enterprise. He spoke about how the party needs to be a voice for those who love the environment but want the government to stop intruding in their lives and livelihoods. “When we as Republicans wake up and tell voters that we want to be the champion of the small farmer and the small businessman or woman, then we will thrive as a party,” he said. “Republicans care just as deeply about the environment as Democrats, but we also care about jobs.” Continue reading

The GOP’s Environmental Challenge

Can one be a social conservative or member of the GOP and be an environmentalist?  Although I’ve long argued what I believe to be the fundamental distinction between being an environmentalist and a conservationist – and perhaps that’s arguing the number of angelic beings dancing on the head of a pin – the obvious answer to the above question is a resounding yes.  To me, it’s a rather silly question, but it’s one with legs.  As with other social and cultural issues, the GOP’s environmental positioning has long been on the losing side of public sentiment, rhetoric and imagery. Continue reading