Where Conservatives Have it Wrong

Individualism can't solve everything for a social species
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 12, 2008 6:51 AM CDT
Historical conservatives like Adam Smith knew the importance of 'networks' and 'institutions,' Brooks writes.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Barry Goldwater wrote that the key to conservatism is “maximizing freedom,” and since his time, individual liberty has been the party’s central tenet. But people are a “deeply interconnected,” social species, as study after study has found —and today’s conservatives need to recognize that, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. The failure to do so “is the main impediment to Republican modernization.”

Today’s chief issues highlight our interpersonal ties: international economic troubles affect personal finances, health care feels unreliable, “inequality strains national cohesion.” The GOP’s individualist thinking can’t explain the wide-ranging, simultaneous poor decisions that caused the housing crisis. “If Republicans are going to fully modernize,” Brooks notes, they must “project a conservatism that emphasizes society as well as individuals.”