from the Claremont Review of Books, Conservatism After Trump by William Voegeli:
The one constant for conservatives, clearly implied by the designation they have chosen, is an acute sense of precariousness. In How to Be a Conservative (2014), the English philosopher Roger Scruton says that conservatism originates in “the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.”
This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.
Conservative policy agendas and philosophical explications, Scruton maintains, all derive from a disposition. For conservatives, “We’ve never done things that way before” is not a decisive objection, but one that does carry considerable weight. They worry that the more sustained and substantial are the benefits enjoyed under long-standing arrangements, the more we take them for granted. In doing so, we stop comparing our condition favorably with known, existing alternatives, and begin comparing it unfavorably with hypothetical possibilities. On the political supply side, public officials compete to be visionary and idealistic, to promise those transformations that will be the most fundamental. Those citizens increasingly disposed to believe that their glass is half-empty welcome or even demand such boldness.