Rod responds to John Savage’s critique of what Savage sees as Rod’s undue enthusiasm for Huckabee and excessive willingness to engage or reconcile with the Left. Inasmuch as this second point repeats canards about crunchy conservatism generally and Rod personally, I don’t agree. I agree with Mark of Protestant Pontifications that crunchy conservatism is the real version of Brooks’ “conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year,” and I also grant that Huckabee doesn’t have the right answers for these folks and usually isn’t even asking the right questions. What he does seem to do, and this is where I think many of us find ourselves mildly sympathetic to Huckabee in spite of ourselves, is to gesture in the right direction.
But the way that most crunchy cons look to him [Dreher] alone to define crunchy conservatism is unhealthy, especially when he’s the type who’s easily made to feel apologetic about taking conservative positions, and has an excessive need to just get along and ingratiate himself with the Left.
As someone who has written a good deal about crunchy conservatism, I grant that crunchy cons and their sympathisers have acknowledged Rod’s role in drawing attention to this kind of conservatism and we have defended him against the more ridiculous and unfair attacks that have been leveled at him, but I question whether the “crunchy cons” have generally looked only to him. To the extent that they are what he says they are, they were already looking to Kirk, Berry and others before Rod came along to document what they were doing, or they were practicing the kind of conservatism of place, virtue and proportion that Rod was describing in his book without articulating what they were doing. Were they relying entirely on Rod, or on any single figure, I think that would be unhealthy, but I don’t think that this is what has been happening. I doubt that Rod has an ”excessive need to just get along and ingratiate himself with the Left.” If he had, he would not have made such a point of challenging Dallas-area Muslims over the dangers of Islamism, nor would he remain as staunchly pro-life as he has always been. Those who wish to “get along and ingratiate” themseves with the Left do not typically rail against local Muslims and condemn the iniquity of abortion.
Dreher is mostly a single-issue “conservative” whose single issue is traditional morality, narrowly construed as being pro-life, anti-promiscuous-sex, and anti-homosexual-unions.
Rod can speak for himself on this point, and he has, but I would add that this is a strange argument to make against the author of Crunchy Cons, whose most controversial and contested claims involved matters of conservation, consumption and economics. If he were simply the “single-issue” social conservative described here, Rod and crunchy conservatism would have created little resistance.
The least persuasive part of Savage’s post was this:
I resent that I can hardly defend crunchy conservatism in good conscience from people I meet on non-crunchy blogs, who assume on the basis of the name that crunchy conservatism is just another form of left-wing hippie-ism.
Most of us who have defended crunchy conservatism against its critics have lamented the name, which doesn’t really capture what it is. Most of us prefer simply to apply the name traditionalist or even neo-traditionalist conservative to what Rod was talking about. We should not allow such assumptions to be a cause of discouragement. Who knows what people assume what the name paleoconservatism means? It is up to paleos, if we insist on using the name, to explain what we are to those who do not yet know. The same goes for those attracted to the best elements of crunchy conservatism.