Thank you to Robert Costa over at NRO for this week resurrecting the term Crunchy Con. Ever since Rod Dreher left NRO, I’ve missed his thoughtful and witty narrative on why it is okay for Republicans and conservatives to care about the environment. Sounds really silly I know, but so many on the political right have forsaken the conservative principles of conservation and environmental stewardship due to the unfortunate politicization of the topic. During a talk last Friday at the Reagan National Library, Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian conservative, and self-described “crunchy conservative,” wasn’t holding back his respect and love for the environment. Costa reports,
Long before he was famous for a filibuster, Senator Rand Paul was a cargo-shorts-wearing ophthalmologist who lived in Bowling Green, Ky. His political activity, beyond supporting his father, was relegated to reading through his bookshelf, which was stocked with the works of Austrian economists and obscure philosophers. He wore hemp shirts, bought organic vegetables, and canoed. But since winning his Senate seat three years ago, Paul has mostly kept that side of himself — his “crunchy conservatism,” as he calls it — under wraps. Instead, he has played up his tea-party persona, and focused on legislating in the buttoned-down Senate.
Paul’s unabashed crunchiness — the term was popularized by former National Review writer Rod Dreher to describe some conservatives’ taste for granola, Birkenstocks, and Mother Nature — wasn’t just a stylistic aside. He argued that his lifestyle is a reflection of his reform agenda for the GOP, which is founded on themes of local control, states’ rights, and free enterprise. He spoke about how the party needs to be a voice for those who love the environment but want the government to stop intruding in their lives and livelihoods. “When we as Republicans wake up and tell voters that we want to be the champion of the small farmer and the small businessman or woman, then we will thrive as a party,” he said. “Republicans care just as deeply about the environment as Democrats, but we also care about jobs.”
Paul went on to talk about the need for more common sense environmental regulations, less intrusive government, more diversity and inclusion within the GOP, and for all to passionately defend the principles of freedom and liberty. You can listen to his talk in its entirety here (first 20 minutes worth listening to).
For those who don’t recall Dreher’s Crunchy Con Manifesto, here it is:
- We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
- Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
- Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
- Culture is more important than politics and economics.
- A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
- Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
- Beauty is more important than efficiency.
- The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
- We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
- Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.
Regardless of one’s politics, I’m surmising that these principles of sustainability are ones that many Americans can and do embrace. I’m starting to really warm to the notion of Rand Paul in 2016!