It is of course difficult to define the range of views held under the banner of those who consider ourselves "right", as it spans conservatism and liberalism. But broadly, we can class our fundamental beliefs as follows: limited government, belief in the rights of the individual, and the desire to preserve the institutions that make our democracy function.
This is the problem with attempts at "fusionism" between conservatism and liberalism. The fundamentals of liberalism remain untouched, and the role of conservatism is limited to preserving liberalism itself.
That's why Elle Hardy has not escaped that limiting framework of politics, in which the big debating point is still how to best regulate a society made up of millions of abstracted, interchangeable individuals each in pursuit of their own self-interest.
For left-liberals the answer is regulation by an interventionist, technocratic state. For right-liberals like Elle Hardy the answer is regulation by the free market (and along the formal lines of statements of individual rights). She sees the market as a source of morality and freedom; her politics is a vision of Economic Man. And so she writes:
Intellectual and moral leadership is required to bridge the gap between populist policies, with which we must grapple as ardent democrats, and the promotion of fundamentals such as free markets and natural rights.
She complains about the left,
rejecting the benefits of technological advancements such as fracking and necessary workplace relations changes to compete in a globalised economy. We need to build the intellectual heft to prosecute the case against the propensity for government intervention.
As many of the left devote their time to demonising capitalism, posting comments from their iPads, it is crucial that we continue to endorse its benefits and inherent morality...Foreign ownership of farms, and the natural shift of our economic base away from manufacturing are both positive things, and we cannot allow a selective fear of Chinese capital to flourish.
Even when she writes to defend civil society, she does so in reference to the market:
A strong civil society helps to keep government out of our lives, strengthens our interactions with the free market, and aides inclusiveness
Which leads me to the main point I want to make. We are kidding ourselves if we think that this right-liberalism is a suitable vehicle for defending the traditions we belong to. To help prove my point, take marriage as an example. What does someone with Elle Hardy's mindset think about marriage?
Not much. She writes:
Historically, the institution has much of which it should be ashamed. Marriage likely evolved due to men’s desire to secure their agricultural and human property, and ensure legitimate succession...
Marriage has been antithetical to liberty for the majority of human beings who have inhabited earth throughout the ages, most notably women (or girls, as so often has been the case). Today, in many parts of the world, legalised marriage continues to be a tool of oppression...
The history and traditions of marriage show it to be a patriarchal institution of the highest order.
Why, then, are Western liberal democracies so polarised between defending and fighting for something which has been such a pejorative concept to so many, for so long?
According to Elle Hardy all that matters is the right to choose whatever we want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Therefore, the state should not restrict who may or may not marry; marriage should be a private matter in which we might marry a group of people if we so desire:
When Kevin Andrews preached his views to us last year, he disguised socio-economic disparities to make the case for marriage in his book Maybe “I do” – Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness. Central to his argument was the logical fallacy of the slippery slope: “Once the state can no longer insist that marriage involves a commitment to a member of the opposite sex, there is no ground (other than superstition) for insisting that marriage be limited to one person rather than several.”
There is no justification in his diatribe as to why government should play a role in enforcing this view. The principles of liberal democracy hold that consenting adults should be able to make any union they so wish, provided it does not interfere with the rights of others.
There is simply no role for state regulation of group marriage, homosexual marriage, or heterosexual marriage in a democracy
Finally there's this:
That which we know as marriage – a nice, albeit expensive, celebration of commitment, which comfortably dissolves into drunkenness and bad dancing – is not a bad thing in and of itself. On a semantic level, it would be futile to try to stop the use of the word marriage, or to change its heteronormative nature. But it is important for people to be able to define marriage of their own free will.
We must immediately, symbolically, give all people the right to marry whoever they choose.
I rest my case. This is liberalism and not anything that can truly be termed conservatism. She does not want to conserve an institution that is inherently meaningful, she wants to uphold the right of the individual to self-define what the institution means. It is the right of autonomous choice that matters to her and this leads her to take a very negative view of marriage as being an impediment to individual freedom, rather than an institution which fulfils aspects of our natures as men and women; which provides a relatively stable environment for the expression of marital and parental love; and which encourages individuals to invest in the societies they belong to.