"All I know is, that Toryism, that is, loyalty to persons, 'springs immortal in the human breast'; that religion is a spiritual loyalty; and that Catholicity is the only divine form of religion. And thus, in centuries to come, there may be found out some way of uniting what is free in the new structure of society with what is authoritative in the old ...'" - Blessed John Henry Newman
Toryism, says Newman, is "loyalty to persons". Conservatism also is "loyalty to persons". That is why, whenever I see a liberal who is fiercely and doggedly attached to his liberal icon as a *person* - Kennedy, Clinton, Obama - I can't help but smile and be a little sympathetic. Such loyalty does indeed spring "immortal in the human breast", even when it is wildly misplaced. We are all monarchists at heart.
A conservatism that forgets this - that ignores this primal longing of men's hearts to serve with fidelity one who is greater - such a "conservatism" is as cold and inhuman as liberalism itself. When conservatives develop a habit of hyper-criticism of personalities, what I call the "politics of teleprompters", they undermine the possibility of an authentic conservatism developing in America which views the flaws of its leaders with sympathy rather than derision, as one would view the idiosyncracies of parents or siblings.
The rise of liberalism means the rise of liberal personalities. Although liberalism constitutes a violent ideological repudiation of "loyalty to persons", liberal personalities cannot survive without the same "loyalty to persons" they profess to loathe.
Granted, loyalty has its limits. But the modern problem is not one of excessive loyalty. Our loyalty, we insist, must be earned - merited. No person has ontological claims to our loyalty. Hence a culture of divorce, broken families, term limits, hyper-mobility, and a performance-based economy in which no job is ever secure. Democracy and capitalism, whatever their advantages, are clearly forces of dissolution when it comes to loyalty to persons - and yet like all systems of human organization they depend upon such loyalty for their very survival. I like to hope that this accidental dependence of liberalism upon personal loyalty may be an accidental means of returning to a truly conservative order.