12/16/2003: "The Object of Our Disaffection"
The key difference between a conservative in the traditional sense of the word and a Big-C Conservative is their attitude towards whether others are allowed to take advantage of new capabilities and freedoms that change brings. There is a great mass of people who have a permanent sense of unease with the thousands of daily changes echoing through American life. Many of them see these changes as threatening to their view of the world. Right wingers have done a masterly job of tapping this rich vein of disaffection. They call the disaffected to action to stop behavior they do not approve. They’ve been able to do this with a midstream redefinition of the term, accomplished during the height of the “future shock” period that began in the 1960s. As America changed rapidly and unavoidably due to demographics and technology improvements, large numbers of people began experiencing discomfort with this accelerating change. Right wingers took advantage of this by repositioning the Republican Party as the party of the disaffected. But they didn’t use the name “disaffected.” That would not be a very effective marketing strategy. They came up with a much better positioning: “compassionate conservatism,” a truly brilliant marketing phrase if there ever was one!