But we cannot restore our old culture through politics alone. The next conservatism needs not only a new movement, it needs a new kind of movement, a movement of people dedicated to restoring the old ways of living in their own lives and those of their families. The next conservative movement is perhaps best thought of as a community, one devoted to the old conservative virtues of modest living, hard work, prudence (which includes not running after every new thing), thrift, conservation, and living God-centered rather than man-centered lives. If we want to restore our old culture, we have to live by its rules.
There is one other reason why the next conservatism needs a new movement, and it is a promising one. I think the next conservative movement may be able to attract the support of many people who would never join a movement that is an arm of the Republican Party. When I raise the kinds of issues this series of columns has discussed, I find many people saying to me, "I never thought of myself as a conservative but I agree the old ways of life were in many ways better." It is not just political conservatives who are distressed by the decay of our culture. Lots of people who are not politically involved, or who may think of themselves as moderates or even liberals, are distressed and frightened by the sex and violence that dominates our entertainment, by divorce and illegitimacy, by the fact that school children don't seem to know anything, and by rampant consumerism and self-centeredness. The next conservative movement could potentially draw some of these people in.
The question then becomes, how do we build a new conservative movement? Building movements has been one my specialties for more than four decades. In my next column, I will offer some suggestions as to how we might accomplish that.