Donald Trump is not a Conservative – I think we all know this. He managed a take-over of the GOP, which had been the (alleged) home of Conservatism, but he made no declaration of loyalty to Conservatism when he did so. And don’t go thinking it was a hostile take-over…plenty in the GOP didn’t (and don’t) like Trump, but plenty more, did. In fact, of course, enough to secure him the GOP nomination. But winning the White House took far more than just holding the GOP. In fact, my guesstimate is that as many as 6 million traditional GOP voters either stayed home, or went with McMullin or Johnson (a very tiny number voted for Hillary, I suspect). Trump won because he brought in people who don’t normally vote GOP…and who are most emphatically not Conservatives.
But, then again, what are Conservatives? What is Conservatism? Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of different Conservatives going off in all manner of odd directions…some in Trump’s favor, some decidedly against Trump. Bill Kristol, as I noted in an earlier post, is a Conservative who is hoping that un-elected bureaucrats force Trump from office. Another Conservative is convinced that Hillary would be forcefully standing up to Russia because she’s some sort of patriotic American hero. Yet another Conservative I’m familiar with has gone in for some neo-Nazi “blood and soil” twaddle about just who can be an American. I’ve seen Conservatives in favor of vigorous war-making in Syria, others who are insisting that we become actual isolationists. Some Conservatives are finding a sudden respect for the “pro-choice” position on abortion, others are figuring that most Conservatives have always been secretly racist.
Let’s face something here: there is no Conservatism, because no one can provide a body of thought which most Conservatives will support. Perhaps there never was a Conservatism, really – maybe it was just something cobbled together by Reagan and only valid as long as he was there to provide direction? Maybe the pressures of the cold war fused together people who would otherwise hate each other and who didn’t really care about anything other than defeating Communism? Don’t get me wrong, defeating Communism is always a worthy goal…but once the major external Communist threat was gone, we have found that plenty of people who were allies against the Soviet Union are quite ok with the imposition of some Communist ideas (mostly in the realm of social policy) in the United States. Might it be time we re-think this whole thing? Start over again, from scratch?
It could be that Trump merely ripped off the mask – forced into the open divisions which were always there, but papered over simply because in a two-party system, anyone who is not Progressive in the fullest sense must be GOP? Think of all the truly Conservative things which could have been done over the past 30 years, and how few of them were actually done. For goodness sake, it’s 2017 and we still haven’t got to even relatively small things like defunding Planned Parenthood or axing the subsidies for PBS. These are things we could have forced through many times in the past 3 decades if there had been a genuinely Conservative movement in the United States. But always, whenever such things were proposed, we found alleged “fellow Conservatives” cutting the effort off at the knees. As if the reality was that plenty of Conservatives were really only Conservative in the sense of not being full-blown Progressive.
I cannot set myself up as the arbiter of what Conservatism is, but I think I’ll at least state what I think Conservatism should be…and then see if anyone else comes along. So, here we go – my 10 principles of True Conservatism.
1. As American Conservatives, our primary political aspiration is to preserve the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence. Most importantly, that government is instituted to secure God-given rights. Our Constitution is a sublime document and must be respected, and only altered via Constitutional means. The rule of law is a requirement for any civilized nation, and so Conservatism insists that the laws be enforced as they are, until such time as the people, via Constitutional means, alter or abolish them.
2. It is the family, not the individual or the social/ethnic/economic group which is the building block of civilization. A Conservative seeks to preserve the family (meaning, mother and father and their natural and/or adopted children) against encroachments by the State or other elements of society.
3. The secure ownership of property is one of the mainstays of preserving the family. Families which can work and build property (wealth) with a goal towards financial independence are the strongest of all families – and, thus, a Conservative will do all which can be done to make the ownership and transmission of family property secure.
4. Power corrupts, and so Conservatism will always seek to reduce as far as practical the power that anyone holds over any other person. There are many mechanisms which can be put into place to reduce concentrations of power, but the main thing is to ensure that the most power is exercised by people most immediately accountable to the people. So, local government must have more power than State government, State government more than federal – and federal government the least power of all.
5. We are all one community of people, bound to each other by ties of patriotism and love. No Conservative can hold to the view that another is inferior based upon ethnic, social or economic background. No American who works hard should be without the necessities of a dignified life. Nor should anyone who can’t work lack for any needed thing. Conservatism is in favor of charity, and realizes that, at times, the organizing power and wealth of government can, and must, be brought to bear to assist those in need.
6. All those who can contribute to society must contribute. Conservatism has no place for those who, able to work, refuse their duty. How this contribution is to be done is to be left, in almost all cases, for the local community to decide, but there is no place in Conservatism for the deadbeat.
7. Life, property and human rights are to be protected by force, if necessary. Always using mercy to temper justice, Conservatism still insists that criminal behavior is wrong and those who commit crimes must pay a price. True Conservatism will have only a few things decreed as illegal: a multiplicity of laws which cannot be understood by average people is not a system of justice, but a system of judicial tyranny. In general, only violent crimes and major theft will be treated by Conservatism as something meriting criminal punishment. In almost all cases, what is to be done with criminal behavior is to be left to the local community to decide.
8. Great disparities of wealth are not conducive to an orderly society. Conservatism applauds the citizen who will work hard, live frugally and build wealth – but when the wealth of an individual (or corporate entity) becomes so large as to distort the workings of society, then Conservatism seeks means of redress. There is nothing wrong with being rich; there is something wrong with using great wealth to secure special privileges.
9. Conservatism recognizes a dangerous world and thus insists that the armed forces of the United States be kept strong enough to repel any possible foreign attack. Conservatism understands that the ultimate defense or our nation, internal and external, is the citizenry, itself. To this end, Conservatism advocates for a citizen militia for home defense, and that all adults who wish to be armed should be so.
10. Faith holds a special place in Conservatism as it recognizes that the real hopes and dreams of the people are expressed via their faith. As far as is practical, Conservatism takes the side of religious liberty against any desire to restrict it. Even if what is being done in the name of a faith seems inexplicable to any particular person, a Conservative will only in the most extreme cases seek to interfere in the practice of a person’s religion.
And there you have it – it is, at least, the Conservatism I believe in. Perhaps you do, as well? We’ll see. But if you’ve got a better Conservatism, then let’s hear it. This does has to be hammered out. If we are to have a Conservative movement, it will have to agree on at least some basic principles and everyone who wishes to be Conservative must adhere to them, once agreed upon.
I need to read it all again in the morning with fresh eyes, but at first glance I don’t have much disagreement with what you wrote. Much of it I could have written myself.
I was really trying for things I do believe that at least most Conservatives would agree on, even if on some points, people will have caveats.
Maybe they’re hidden or implied in several of your points, but when people ask me what it means to be a Conservative I mention the principles I embrace such as honor, integrity, perseverance, courage, self reliance, personal responsibility/accountability, humility, and, above all, seeking the truth regardless of where it leads.
Yep – but as a political program, we can’t get any of those things…they have to be within. At least I’m confident you’ll be in favor of a citizens militia!
At all events, put out what you think the points should be…I’d really rather that a group of us craft, debate and come to agreement on a set of 10 or so core principles…and then start arguing for them. Heck, we can put them in a book and self-publish it (Matt and I have done rather well with “Worst”…it can be done, again).
(Matt and I have done rather well with “Worst”…it can be done, again).
I did finally finish it. Really well done. I emailed Rush Limbaugh and told him it should be in his “stack of stuff.”
Upon a second reading, I would have worded #5 and #8 differently. I’m a strong advocate for charity and give to several different charities, but I keep coming back to the famous quote by James Madison:
I do agree that government should play a roll in helping people after a natural disaster, but beyond that I think government’s roll should only extend to helping private charities target those in need.
As far as punishing people who have amassed great wealth and use it in a way that is disagreeable to you, I think that goes a bit too far. I always try to err on the side of freedom.
I figured those would get some Conservative gripes, and I understand that – but, some times, private charity can’t cover the bill: especially when there is natural disaster or a severe economic crisis. But, I backed that up by stating that those who can work, but refuse to, get nothing. As for the rich thing – I just don’t like billionaires like Soros and Bezos using their vast wealth to twist our political life.
During the election season, Twitter was awash in alt-Right Twitter accounts…most clearly “bots”; you could tell because they would be following a couple hundred opinion makers but only having a couple dozen followers. They were there to find people commenting and then inserting their absurdly hate-filled views…the idea being that they would create the impression that Trump’s supporters were racists to the core, thus trying to scare off people from voting Trump. 11/8 came along, and I’ve hardly seen them…clearly, it was an organized effort. Someone was trying to manipulate the Narrative – and that takes big bucks.
While I agree with what you said, for the most part, I keep coming back to what I see as a very big problem, and that is muddling certain personal and social values with what I think should be a purely political identity of Conservatism—-the commitment to Constitutional governance.
Most of the things you discuss—–preserving the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence, the secure ownership of property, the hierarchy of political power, national security, protection of life and property and freedom of worship—-are all within the purview of the Constitution. That is, if the Constitution is held to be the law of the land and the country is governed according to what it says, these things will all be addressed and protected and part of the fabric of our life.
I strongly disagree with your statement that “…at times, the organizing power and wealth of government can, and must, be brought to bear to assist those in need….” unless, as Spook said, it is in cases of serious emergency. He is completely right when he quotes Madison—-the Constitution NEVER included charity. Period. It is not possible to take two contrary positions—that the nation must be governed according to the Constitution and that it must engage in charity. This is an either/or position, and the choice is what puts someone on the left or the right side of the equation.
And I think you muddle two different concepts together and take them as one. You say “Great disparities of wealth are not conducive to an orderly society….” which is an opinion that is dependent on a personal filter, and then you seem to assume that great disparities of wealth automatically lead to “…..using great wealth to secure special privileges” Of course great wealth should not secure “special privileges” if you are talking about different treatment under the law, but of course it includes special treatments such as luxury homes, private aircraft, etc.
The very idea of a government putting a limit on personal wealth is abhorrent, and another of those emotion-based personal opinions that is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the writing leading up to it and supporting it and defending it after it was ratified.
Back to charity—this is not a function of government, but of personal and religious beliefs, and must remain so. Virtue and salvation are personal.
OT, but it looks like the Dems’ Russia collusion campaign is about to blow up in their faces.
Bigly – naturally, the MSM is in full “Protect The One” mode…but, I don’t think it’ll work. All the levers of investigation are in GOP hands and plenty of GOPers, even the “wets” are getting tired of this Democrat game. An investigation which goes where the evidence leads will be devastating to Democrats…and, oddly, the more they try to protect Obama, the worse it will get for him.
Mark, your 10 principles of Conservatism are in my opinion simply 10 principles of common sense. Like Spook, I take exception with the personal wealth clause. Wealth does have special privileges and there is nothing wrong with that, and wealth is also not a zero sum game, so I have no problem with people who seek wealth. I do agree however that if that wealth is politically weaponized then that needs to be addressed and their are laws to do just that, as there are laws to prevent that wealth from being obtained illegally. I also take huge exception with public servants amassing enormous wealth. There is a big difference between private greed and public greed. Private greed can be legislated and prosecuted. Public greed and wealth obtained through political favors and inside information has little recourse and can be much more damaging.
So did Obama and Susan Rice weaponize the intelligence community in the last few days in an effort to destroy Trump? I think so. It is already known that Obama had previously weaponized the IRS, the DOJ, and the EPA so this is not a difficult leap of logic. Even MSNBC this morning is a little startled by this and questioning the behaviors the Obama admin. in the last few days, and now we know it goes all the way to the top. This is big league.
Elijah Cummings is not a very bright man. This morning on MSNBC, Elijah expressed his concern for the “frightened” EPA employees who can not conduct the “science” they have been trained to do, and went on the say how churches are full now on the weekends by “frightened” parishioners wondering what is happening. Oh and of course according to Elijah, Steve Bannon is a white supremacist and Elijah is concerned now for blacks “right to vote”. The Progressives sure have made some progress, haven’t they?
Again OT, but the Democrat political spying conspiracy is really starting to unravel.
It’ll be interesting to see, if someone can get the not-too-bright Ms. Rice under oath, if she falls on her sword or implicates those above her. There’s no doubt in my mind that, if the spying on Trump and/or Trump associates was not directly ordered by Obama, at the very least his approval was implicit. I’ll bet the switchboards are ringing off the hooks at D.C. law firms specializing in criminal defense.
This could end up making WaterGate look like a second rate burglary — oh, wait……
‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said. She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet. ‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said. She also blasted President Donald Trump’s tweeted claims a month ago that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election. ‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ Rice said.
She went on to blame the entire incident on a YouTube video produced by some reckless American with no regard to how inflammatory that video was perceived to be.
I’m starting to think she’s toast – we don’t know, of course, whether she was the leaker, but her hemming and hawing indicates that she knows she’s in legal jeopardy. I most emphatically don’t want her to testify in front of Congress right now…she’ll either take the 5th or just parse answers endlessly. I want a criminal investigation opened and let’s see what is discovered.
Well it’s obvious now that MSNBC has decided that the Susan Rice story is a non story. Almost an hour in to Morning Joe, there is not one mention of Susan Rice and the only conversation is about N. Korea, Syria, and Trumps sinking poll numbers. Funny enough they hammered Trump for bringing up Obama’s failed “red line” tactic in Syria saying that this is now in Trump’s court, and the MSNBC panel went on to say they don’t remember Obama blaming Bush in foreign crisis matters – and I am not making that up.
Morning Joe has now officially crossed that very thin line from from being a left of center commentary show to a full blown propaganda machine for the Democratic party.
Isn’t it ironic that the Democrats claim to leave “no stone unturned” to get to the bottom of possible collusion between Trump and Russia, but at the same time act indignant when Susan Rice is called out for possibly illegally revealing Trump transition members in their surveilled communique with Russia diplomats, even after she admitted it? Susan was simply doing the same thing albeit covertly and possibly illegally, but the Democrats want everyone to believe that she and the Obama administration are above reproach on this issue.
I may have been born at night but it wasn’t last night.
I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but I’m getting this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that the Russia collusion investigation is going to bear fruit, even if they have to make it up and frame someone.
And on the flip side, the real collusion between key Obama confidants and deep state loyalists is going to do everything possible, and I mean EVERYTHING, to see that the political spying investigation goes nowhere. I hope I’m wrong about both.
I don’t know Spook. It is now known that the Obama administration, probably in collusion with the Clinton campaign, was surveilling the Trump campaign before the primaries, after the primaries, and during the transition and you can be assured that they would have exposed even the slightest hint of collaboration had they found any. They haven’t found anything and their actions thus far are now so partisan, that any findings will be heavily seen in that light. It would have to be something big league.
In addition to that, a lot of the actions that Trump has taken are not favorable to Russia and I think you pointed that out not too long ago. So I think it would be a hard sell on behalf of the Democrat party.
I’d think so except for two things:
1. For once, all investigative authorities are in Republican hands.
2. Trump – and even the larger GOP – is completely alienated from the Democrats.
What has me concerned are the Republicans’ oft-displayed propensity to eat their own, their past failures to wield power effectively when they have it, and the media’s ability to drive the narrative and create false perception. I have the same gut feeling that I did when Scooter Libby was on trial. There was no way that he should have been convicted — or even tried for that matter, as the prosecutor knew he has not guilty of the crime he was being charged with. But reading between the lines you just knew that he was going to be found guilty of something, even if they had to fabricate it. And they did!
Anyway, as I said, I hope I’m wrong. The fact that Nunes stepped down from the unmasking/leaking investigation this morning as a result of attacks by left-wing interest groups is not a good sign.