I recently ran across a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” I’ve had a couple of exchanges on Twitter along these lines, and I’d like to paraphrase the Renaissance genius for contemporary conservatives:
Listening to talk shows is not enough; we must study.
You can learn a lot from listening to, watching, and reading Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and other talk show hosts about current events and issues; I have. However, if you want to really understand issues and be able to support your views, you need to study history, philosophy, economics, and specific issues in depth. That probably means reading. (Horrors!)
Obviously, you should start with the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers.
After that, you can find books (and websites) on various issues on the Information on Issues for Conservatives wiki, and I plan to add to this wiki in the future. I would also recommend Penn Pfiffner’s Freedom Reading List on the Free People Free Markets Ning site. Glenn Beck has some history books listed on the 912 Project website, and last week he spoke to the authors of the following books on an episode of his show titled “Destined To Repeat(?)”:
- Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe
- Ronald. J. Pestritto, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism
- Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
- Johan Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change
Complaining is not enough; we must teach.
Start with your family, especially children and college/university students, and friends. Join the online conversation with a Twitter account or a blog. (If you need help, I’m working on a series of lessons on Social Media for Conservatives.) Explain to them what you’ve learned in your studies. Discuss the issues in a reasoned and polite manner.
Protesting is not enough; we must lead.
Contact your elected representatives and let them know what you think about the issues they’re considering. Volunteer for a conservative official or candidate. Serve in your community on a city or county board or commission or with a non-profit organization. Run for office.
Whatever you do, stick to your conservative principles.