Experience is Humanity’s “Least Fallible Guide”: Conservative George Will Makes a Conservative Case Against McCain’s VP-Pick, Sarah Palin

George Will of the Washington Post says that the Palin VP pick is not in accord with traditional conservative sobriety and caution. Money quote:

The word “experience” appears 91 times in the Federalist Papers, those distillations of conservative sense and sensibility. Madison, Hamilton and Jay said that truths are “taught” and “corroborated” by experience. These writers were eager to “consult” and be “led” by experience. They spoke of “indubitable” and “unequivocal” lessons from experience, the “testimony” of experience and “the accumulated experience of ages.” “Accumulating” experience is “the parent of wisdom” and a “guide” that “justifies,” “confirms” and can “admonish.” America’s Founders were empiricists and students of history who trusted “that best oracle of wisdom, experience,” which is humanity’s “least fallible guide.”

A telling touch, that “least fallible.” The Founders represented the sober side of the Enlightenment. They knew, as conservatives do, that all guides are fallible. Hence conservatism’s inclination to discern prescriptions in traditions, which are mankind’s slow adjustments to the accretion of experiences.

So, Sarah Palin. The man who would be the oldest to embark on a first presidential term has chosen as his possible successor a person of negligible experience.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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