You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

This Week In Conservative Taxonomy

Inspired by James Poulos's suggestion that Front Porchers such as Patrick Deneen are really "Premods" (in sharp contrast to his own "Pomocons"), John Schwenkler coins the term, "prefab cons." Conor Friedersdorf runs with it:

In construction, a prefabricated house is produced in a factory, shipped out to building sites, and assembled by folks unequipped to design anything better.

The prefab conservative, or prefab-con, brings the same attitude to political discourse: rather than using reason and critical thinking to craft arguments that fit the real world, he trots out prefabricated memes, arguments and conclusions that are passably functional at best. All too often, they are even worse: the typical prefabcon lives in an intellectual house of ugly, wobbly walls that collapse on themselves in slight gusts. Undaunted, he throws up another structure on the same spot, though that wolf named reality is standing right there, ready to huff and puff again....

Imagine an architect who studied the classical cannon. He might understand the insights behind columns well enough to employ them in a modern structure. On the other hand, he might thoughtlessly equate columns with good architecture, and justify atrocious designs that fit their site poorly by pointing at the columns, remarking on their long tradition, and insisting that anyone who criticizes their use must hate the most ingenious structures of the Greeks and Romans.

This analogy is usefully applied by thinking of Ronald Reagan as a master architect, and tax cuts as his columns. The thoughtful conservative understands why tax cuts can be beneficial, appreciates the elegant genius of their design, and advocates for them in the right circumstances. The prefabcon insists that a well constructed public policy demands tax cuts in every circumstance, because that's what Ronald Reagan would've done.

It is difficult to tell how many prefabcons truly believe in what they're building, and how many are content to throw up obviously inferior products because it's cheap, easy, and it sells. Certain sites -- Townhall and Human Events spring to mind -- basically earn their keep by mass producing gaudy, ill-constructed intellectual McMansions.

Insert your own housing-market-collapse punchline here.

--Christopher Orr