By Robin Smith · Feb. 17, 2016
In this Republican primary, as in others, the word “conservative” is used in tag lines, mail pieces, robo calls and advertisements as a tickler to gain the attention of an intense voting base of citizens. It’s a political term and identifier filled with meaning, but that meaning is battered by forces desperate to control its definition.
What does it really mean to be conservative?
As a doctrine, the foundations of conservative belief are grounded in our Declaration of Independence. It’s a combination of individual liberty and personal responsibility. A conservative views our individual rights as those which pre-exist the state. Therefore, “unalienable rights” conferred by “our Creator” transcend and eclipse those “rights” awarded, most often at the expense of other individuals, by a man-made institution — the state.
As our Founders understood and eloquently penned, it is “self-evident” that “all men are created equal,” not by a state or a regulated statute, but by God. Among our unalienable rights — those that cannot be transferred to another or denied an individual — are “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” for which a government is “instituted among men” deriving its powers from “the consent of the governed.”
Conservatives do not believe the state or the government awards rights to individuals. Instead, a conservative views the state’s attempt to create “equality” as forcibly inducing sameness using a manufactured sense of fairness and false philanthropy. This government-induced sameness penalizes and shames excellence and those committed to a higher level attainment, while it materially rewards consistent failure.
Conservatives embrace and encourage the guidance of a moral compass to cultivate a society of individuals whose decorum and demeanor manifests conduct that is orderly, productive, self-sustaining, personally accountable and decent. In such a society, fewer laws and regulations are needed. As John Adams noted two centuries ago, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Indeed, the enumerated, limited powers of our federal government provided through the Law of the Land, the U.S. Constitution, are those viewed as pillars of a conservative government structured to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Conversely, modern-day liberals and some “moderate” Republicans view our government as the tool to shape and reshape on an ongoing basis the societal norms and “rights” of individuals with a malignancy of laws, regulations and mandates. The effect of this is to turn each American into a ward of the state, with their rights conferred from the same and their needs met collectively.
What does it really mean to be a conservative, in 2016? It means, most likely, that you are marginalized and mocked because you believe in the best of humanity because of its created existence in equality and potential. You are likely to be degraded as “greedy” when you want the government to get less than the 10% your Creator asks of your earnings and work-generated wealth. A conservative in 2016 is justifiably angry at the governing elites who’ve taken you for granted election cycle after election cycle while the burden of casting your vote is a profound decision knowing that America is only as great as its people and its leaders.
The Republican Party has mouthed the words of conservative thought and principle over many years to ingratiate those who live in pursuit of our unalienable rights. Yet the Grand Old Party has allowed the value of its name to be cheapened by poll-driven policies and messages scratched out to tickle ears, not withstand the pressures of time.
As the old adage goes, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
Conservatives adapt to certain elements of style and cultural fads while holding fast to the timeless principles of a constitutional government.
During this election year, recognize the faulty argument offered for a “mainstream” view and role of government that’s popular among those who want big-government taxing and spending in the name of “fairness.”
Conservativism or conservative policy has not failed.
Conversely, a perverted version of our founding doctrine has been referenced and employed that doesn’t collaborate, but rather compromises. The version of conservatism that lies beneath the subterfuge of “center-right” policies today is truly a Trojan Horse that has yielded historically high and wasteful spending that cannot continue; funds failure in both government-controlled educational systems and health care; has refused to address and enforce legal immigration; and has sat paralyzed in fear as America’s worst president has degraded and destroyed much of our country’s greatness through his unbridled reckless policies.
Conservativism has not failed because the policies rooted in its doctrine have not been fully implemented. Instead, governing elites flush with cash use phrases and marketing that sound and look conservative but really aren’t. To these, conservatism is not a doctrine, but a tool of deceit.
Conservatives, indeed, want America to stand in its majesty of individual freedom and hope. So, what do you say? Let’s do something different and actually try authentic, principled conservatism in governance.