Splittelsen i amerikansk konservatisme

Af Christian Egander Skov

Det amerikanske præsidentvalg er gået ind i sin sidste fase, og det er kun de mest trofaste, der stadig tror, at Donald Trump har en chance. Det afgørende spørgsmål for Det Republikanske parti (og for alle os andre, der på godt og ondt er påvirket af grænsedragningerne i amerikansk indenrigspolitik) er hvordan højrefløjen og særligt Det Republikanske parti skal reagere på den oplevelse, de har været igennem.

Som Thomas Gress har været inde på her på aarsskriftet-critique.dk så er det muligt at adskille Trump og Trumpismen, og en konsekvens af det er, at valget i år vil få et efterspil for Republikanerne. Et interessant spørgsmål bliver, hvordan partiet vil forholde sig til det radikale højre, alt-right, der med Trumps kampagne og hans forbindelse til Breitbarts chef Stephen Bannon er rykket ud af obskuriteten. (Herom kommer Simon Hesselager Johansen til at skrive mere udførligt i Replique i løbet af november. Glæd jer!)

Men kampen om det amerikanske højres politiske og ideologiske sjæl er allerede igang som en udveksling mellem The American Conservative’s stifter Patrick Buchanan og redaktøren for The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol antyder. For mens den etablerede partikonservatisme i mange år har haft for vane så vidt muligt at ignorere den såkaldte palæo-konservatisme, som Buchanan er repræsentant for, så har Kristol i denne uges udgave af TWS angrebet Buchanan direkte og forsøgt at trække de principielle linjer op mellem sin egen konservative position og Buchanans.

Demokratiet som afgud

Anledningen var en artikel i TAC, hvor Buchanan kom tæt på at afsværge det liberale demokrati som sådan i sit forsvar for Donald Trump. Han skrev:

“Establishment panic is traceable to another fear: its ideology, its political religion, is seen by growing millions as a golden calf, a 20th-century god that has failed. Trump is “talking down our democracy,” said a shocked Clinton.

After having expunged Christianity from our public life and public square, our establishment installed “democracy” as the new deity, at whose altars we should all worship. And so our schools began to teach.

Half a millennia ago, missionaries and explorers set sail from Spain, England, and France to bring Christianity to the New World. Today, Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes send soldiers and secularist tutors to “establish democracy” among the “lesser breeds without the Law.”

[…] By suggesting he might not accept the results of a “rigged election,” Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy, and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots.”

Buchanan sluttede efterfølgende sin kritik af det liberale demokrati som en slags politisk religion af med en kort, men kontroversiel bemærkning om, at “the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America they love”.

Konservatismens forsvar for demokratiet

Det var denne problematisering af konservatismens forbindelse til det liberale demokrati, der fik Kristol til at skrive et svar i TWS, hvor han lagde vægt på konservatismens forpligtelse på en demokratisk, konstitutionel orden:

Don’t get us wrong. We’re sympathetic to an enlightened populism. We’re friendly to a civilized and civilizing nationalism. But we’re even more committed to a constitution of liberty. We’re even more attached to the cause of self-government. What Buchanan dismisses as “the niceties of liberal democracy” we call the forms of freedom—and of civilization.

We’d go further. One of the historic tasks of American conservatism has in fact been to preserve and strengthen American liberal democracy. Conservatives have often been better at this than liberals have been, because conservatives are more aware than liberals of liberal democracy’s weaknesses and less complacent about its success.

So conservatives have trained their fire on the many threats to liberal democracy from, broadly speaking, the left: against a liberationism that cannot distinguish between liberty and license; against an egalitarianism that cannot distinguish between equal rights and a leveling down of natural or merited distinctions; against a nanny-statism that cannot distinguish between a safety net and a suffocating blanket; against a hopefulness that cannot distinguish between the world as it is and the world as one would like it to be; against a progressivism that cannot distinguish between learning from history and succumbing to History.

But American conservatism is also a conservatism that, while rejecting the intolerance of the present, disdains the bigotry of the past; that, while respecting the public, insists that vox populi is not vox dei; that, while pledging allegiance to the American nation, also does so to principles of liberty and justice for all; that, while cherishing our freedom as Americans, hopes that one day all men will be free.”

Uanset hvordan valget ender og hvad Trumpismens eftermæle bliver, står det allerede nu klart, at populismens gennembrud som en selvstændig kraft i amerikansk politik, har gjort skillelinjer tydelige, der før har været sandet til. Her ligger måske valgåret 2016’s vigtigste betydning.


Christian Egander Skov er redaktør ved Årsskriftet Critique og Replique, ph.d. i historie og forfatter til bogen Konservatisme i Mellemkrigstiden.