Polls show evidence that teenagers tend to have similar political views to those of their parents. As someone whose parents have diametrically opposed outlooks on major political issues, this was never really an option for me. Therefore, I suppose it is up to me to establish my own positions on matters of policy implementation. Despite being fascinated by the American as well as the geopolitical landscape, I have yet to have had much luck finding consistent consensus in ideology with any political party. However, I have recently discovered a philosophy with which I am able to say I align with most of the time. I am a Burkean.
I was first exposed to Burkean ideology this past summer on a program I was accepted to called the Tikvah Summer Fellowship. I studied with Professor Darren Staloff about the distinction between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine and how their contradictory sociopolitical stances impacted the future of western politics. I developed an even better understanding of Burke when we studied him this semester in Political Science 101. It is often argued or implied that Burke was the father of American, political conservatism while Paine’s views are more representative of traditional American liberalism. This notion was the subject of a book I read on the subject called “The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left” by Yuval Levin.
However, I take issue with this notion. I consider myself a Burkean because, like Burke, I believe that political change should remain gradual. He and I are not believers in swift political revolutions. Alternatively, we are proponents of the idea that political change is to occur slowly and over time in order to ensure efficiency. We believe that sweeping and sudden changes in governance or policy can cause uproar in both the public and government as well as larger societal problems. These are my principles as well as as the principles of he who is is so often referred to as the father of modern, political conservatism. And yet, these principles are not representative of what today’s American conservative movement
advocates. For example, new policies which would send our nation in the direction of overturning Roe v. Wade or establishing new laws which would effectively ban abortions are not in keeping with Burkean thinking toward policy. In addition to the social reforms American conservatives so often back, right wing foreign policy measures also go against Buke’s original dogma. While it is hard to identify exactly what Burke’s foreign policy preferences would be if he were politically active today (feel free to read someone a lot smarter than me give it a shot,) it would make sense that he would not be nearly as interventionist as conservatives of today. Someone so vehemently opposed to radical revolutions or large-scale, sudden political change would most certainly be opposed to his government intervening to enforce such changes across the globe.
And here I am, back at square one. Just when I thought I had made a little progress in calling myself a Burkean, I realize that for my purposes I am yet again no closer to being a conservative or a liberal, a Republican or a Democrat. I am just me. I know Edmund Burke was a brilliant man and I embrace his philosophies but I am not convinced that if he were here today he would be a staunchly conservative Republican by our standards. Hopefully by continuing my study of brilliant theorists such as Burke with brilliant professors like Mika and Dr. Staloff, I will be able to eventually pinpoint my spot on the political spectrum.
The Personal is Political