I want to briefly look at one of the articles from the website, because it gives a good idea of the limitations of mainstream conservatism.
The article is by J.R. Hoeft, who has served on the Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia. The message he wants to impart is that Republicans need to temper their enthusiasm for cutting back the role of the state.
He begins by appealing to Burke and Kirk:
Sir Edmund Burke is often cited as the founder of modern conservatism. In fact, Russell Kirk starts his profound work “The Conservative Mind” by profiling Burke.I've noticed this before. Mainstream conservatives will happily appeal to genuinely conservative writers like Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, without the genuine conservatism rubbing off. The leader of the Australian Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, does this in an especially infuriating way. He will talk intelligently about, say, the patriotic views of Roger Scruton but then adopt policy positions which are directly contrary to the principles he has just seemingly endorsed.
So what does Burke say about who should govern, how they should govern, and what constitutes liberty?
Clearly it's not enough to have read Burke or Kirk or Scruton. The mainstream right can do this and still adopt liberal policy positions. Their conservatism still stops short.
Anyway, Hoeft uses Burke in support of the idea that "compromise and coming to consensus on major issues, in, yes, a “bipartisan” way is positive". What I found most disappointing, though not surprising, is the way that Hoeft then chooses to define the aims of conservatism:
The shared conservative goals of limited government, promotion of the free market, and fiscal responsibility need to be the backbone for conservatism.
That could just as easily be thought of as classical or right liberalism. Right-liberals believe that what matters is the regulation of a liberal society by the market rather than by the state. This leads to an emphasis on the individual as Economic Man - it is our participation in the economy which is thought to positively define us.
It's possible that the problem is once again that of "fusionism". The right-wing parties usually make their political appeal to both social conservatives and to right-liberals. Right-liberals and conservatives do agree that the state should not take over the role of other institutions in society, so perhaps there's an effort to "fuse" both wings of the party together on this basis of limited government.
If so, that's a loss to the socially conservative wing. It defines the aim of the party along right-liberal lines and because the liberalism remains predominant, and the logic of liberalism is for the state to intervene in society to create conditions of equal autonomy as a matter of "social justice", the state ends up extending its reach over time anyway.
The socially conservative element shouldn't accept such terms. It should aim to dominate and to keep the right-liberals appeased by including limited government as one of its policy goals. It has to seek fusion on its own terms rather than the terms of the right-liberals.