As I wrote in March of 2009, conservatism is a political philosophy or ideology based on and promoting the two principles stated in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
- maximum freedom of individuals, who possess inherent rights to ” Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
- minimum power of government, which exist “to secure these rights”
Ronald Reagan spoke of the three legs of conservatism: national defense, free markets, and traditional social values. National defense is clearly a function of government in fulfilling its role to protect our rights, as is the “justice system.” Free markets are necessary to allow individuals to exercise our rights. However, except for abortion, which violates the right to life, social issues like the definition of marriage, pornography, etc., have nothing to do with conservatism because they do not, or should not, fall within the very limited purview of any level of government.
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In a speech late Tuesday night, Minority Leader and probable future Speaker John Boehner announced, “The people’s priorities will be our priorities, and the people’s agenda will be our agenda” (“Boehner: Election a ‘repudiation of Washington’“). Based on this statement, I have to question Boehner’s commitment to the Constitution and conservative principles. Just because the people have a certain priority or agenda doesn’t mean that Congress has the authority under the Constitution to pursue that priority or agenda. I want the Constitution to be the House Republicans’ priority and agenda.
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I just heard Chris Wallace on Fox News talking to Mitt Romney, who differentiated between Democrats who advocate government solutions to economic and health-care “problems” with Republicans who advocate “free-market” solutions.
He seemed to be supporting a Republican plan in which the federal government would give individuals more control over their health care.
Mitt needs to reread the Constitution. There is nothing in it that allows the federal government to interfere in health care at all. The only plan a Republicans should propose is one to get the federal government out of health care–period.
Unfortunately, in this interview at least, Mitt sounded more like another big-government Republican than a conservative.
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I’m hoping to get a lot of reading done this summer. The following books are on my list:
- Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas that Changed the World
- Mark Levin, Liberty and Tyranny
- F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
- Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
- Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto, eds., American Progressivism: A Reader
- Ronald J. Pestritto, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism
- Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
- Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe
- Glenn Beck, An Inconvenient Book
- Walter Williams, Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism
- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
- Thomas E. Woods, Jr., and Kevin R. C. Gutzman, Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush
- Randy E. Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty
- George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism
- Andrew Klavan, The Last Thing I Remember
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The goal of any political party is to get its candidates elected to office and keep them there. Obviously, the goal of the Republican Party is to get Republican candidates elected.
However, the goal of conservatives within the party is to get conservative candidates elected. The Republican Party is at best a means to that end. If the GOP doesn’t move back to the right and start working toward that goal, then there is no reason for conservatives to stay in the party, which is leaving us.
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Conservatism is a political philosophy based on the premises “that all men [and women] are . . . equal, that they are endowed . . . with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [i.e., individual liberty], [and that] to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men [i.e., limited government], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence).
A conservative is someone who accepts, adheres to, and argues from these premises. A person who doesn’t believe in these principles, individual liberty and limited government, is not a conservative.
We don’t need labels like fiscal conservative, social conservative, paleoconservative, neoconservative, etc. Either someone is a conservative, or he or she is not–period.
Glenn Beck’s nine principles:
- America is a good place–not perfect, but good.
- I believe in God, and he’s the center of my life.
- I must try to be a better, more honest person every day.
- Family is sacred. My spouse and I are the authority, under God, when it comes to my family.
- If you break the law, you pay the price. Justice is blind, and nobody is above that.
- I, as a citizen, have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but that is not a guarantee of equal results.
- I work hard for what I have, and I will share it with others, when I choose, who I choose, should I choose. The government cannot force me to be charitable.
- It’s not un-American for anyone to disagree with my opinion, but my opinion and others’ opinions may be anti-American.
- The government works for me. It’s not the other way around. They answer to me. I don’t answer to them.
If you agree with these nine principles or even just seven of them, Glenn wants you to take a picture of yourself and send the photograph to him at firstname.lastname@example.org .