In a recent interview on “Uncommon Knowledge,” Prof. Harvey C. Mansfield of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government had this to say: “Conservatism is closer to the mission of the university than liberalism is.” But he’s right. At least, the true liberal arts model, where all presuppositions are investigated to determine the roots of those beliefs.
Mansfield argues the fundamental reason for this is that “Conservatives are more tolerant than liberals.” The average liberal would have at this point spewed whatever they happened to have been drinking at the time. He has a point though. Liberals more often than not believe that conservatism is based purely on superstition or prejudice. So they say, “Just a little more education, and we’ll finally be rid of these dastardly conservatives.” They believe, twenty, fifty, eighty years from now, conservatism will just disappear- so why read Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke, Frank Meyer, Milton Freidman, Hayek, Bastiat, etc…?
But conservatism isn’t under that illusion- most of us realize that there will always be liberals, simply because it’s still a vision that can capture people’s imaginations, no matter how wrong we believe it might be. Liberals who disagree with conservatives are rarely decried as racists, bigots, or the like- the worst we go is unpatriotic, and usually that’s a select few from the right, not the Right as a whole. So we don’t dismiss a whole political philosophy as liberals are wont to do about conservatism. Remember? Opponents of the Obama agenda aren’t principled objectors to what they perceive to be an assault on individual liberties or a gross expansion of government beyond its natural limits- they’re motivated by race, clearly. Questioning the efficacy of the welfare state is derived solely from bigotry. I could go on and on.
So, my solution? Get some more conservative faculty. Then we can finally be closer to what a university is supposed to be.