Confusion About Crunchy Conservatism

Rod Dreher seems like a nice enough guy and his book, Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or at least the Republican Party) was actually advertised on RWN, but to tell you the truth, I really just don’t get the whole Crunchy Conservatism concept.

As a matter of fact, I just read an entire 4 page article on Dreher and Crunchy Conservatism at the WAPO and it was like traveling through a fog bank — which regrettably, was about the same experience that I had every time I read the now defunct Crunchy Con blog over at National Review. It’s all so esoteric and philosophical, that even if you read the mildly insulting (to mainstream conservatives) Crunchy Con Manifesto, you’ll still be completely confused about what they’re supposed to believe.

That being said, as far as I can tell, “Crunchy Cons” are supposed to be conservatives who like natural foods, don’t like urban sprawl, and are somehow or another, more “spiritual” than other conservatives. There also seems to be a sort of anti-materialistic strain to Crunchy Conservatism, but, let’s face it: how many truly non-materialistic people are there in this country? In my book, if you’re not some Buddhist who owns nothing but the clothes on his back, a prayer mat, and a rice bowl, you’re a materialist. It’s just a question of degree.

But in any case, this brings up a central question: does Crunchy Conservatism exist in any meaningful sense? Honestly, I’d have to say, “no.”

That’s because, despite the many similarities conservatives have, we’re not all “mind numbed” robots who hold exactly the same position on every issue, enjoy exactly the same things, and look at life through exactly the same lens. If every conservative took the handful of differences he had with his fellow conservatives and created a whole new “brand” of conservatism out of it, there would be tens of thousands of little subgroups that would spring up, each one with a handful of “unique” characteristics. But, if we had “Dungeons and Dragons Conservatives” and “Nascar Conservatives” and “Mountain Conservatives” and “Beach Conservatives” and “Homemade Beer Makin’ Conservatives” and a thousand other made-up niches to go along with the Crunchy Conservatives, what purpose would it really serve in the end…well, other than to sell books explaining to everyone the unique views of conservative group #789 out of 21,412?

Again, Dreher seems to be a likable guy and there are certainly some people out there who share an ideological cubbyhole with him, but yet and still, I just don’t think his “Crunchy Conservatism” is distinctive enough to be treated as a separate branch of conservatism.

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