My fellow author’s article last week about Donald Trump seemed to stir up quite a negative reaction from those who firmly stand behind “The Donald”. After reading G.W.’s article and then the comments that followed, what I gleaned was fascinating — the term “conservative” seems to have lost any real meaning.
To be a conservative now-a-days seems to be someone who claims to back a particular set of policies.
Can we tell if someone is a real conservative if they are for:
- Protecting our Nation’s Borders
- A Strong Military
- and so on...
Is a real conservative just checking all the right boxes or something more?
Suppose I needed to hire a math tutor for one of my children. Should I ask potential candidates questions like “What is 4 + 8?” or “What is the square root of 16?”. What if the candidate got both answers correct, should I hire them? Or instead should my interview be structured to ensure my new tutor understands math principles which lead to correct answers? In other words should I be looking for someone who can answer my particular questions correctly or someone who can demonstrate comprehension of math principles in order to answer all the questions correctly? Obviously the answer is the second type of candidate. Otherwise I might hire someone who answered my particular questions correctly because they were just lucky that day.
Likewise a real conservative is not someone who says all the right things or knows the right policies. Instead a real conservative knows the right policies because their principles drive them to the right answers. We do not know all the questions we will face in the future, but we do know that the leaders who use conservative principles will have the right answers. In other words, the conservative’s principles tether, bind and anchor their policies so they do not change with the political winds. Without this tethering of policies to principles, the person claiming to be a conservative can easily change their mind when the politics no longer work to their advantage. That type of person is, what could be called, a convenient conservative — or another good name is a politician.
What are Conservative Principles?
So what are conservative conserving? What are conservatives preserving? A true conservative is one who espouses the principles of the Founding Fathers. The Founders’ principles are found in the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence and eventually the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
A modern day conservative believes in limited government not because it is popular or something they like, but because they understand that the true nature of people combined with the power of government leads to tyranny, not liberty. Therefore government must have an appropriate but limited role. That limited role then leads to fiscal responsibility. It is a contradiction to spend trillions of dollars each year and at the same time have a limited government. A limited government also makes easy-to-understand policies so citizens remain engaged in the political process and do not just check in to vote.
Liberty is another central principle of the Founders, not equality. While all of us are created equal, this is in regards to the law, but never equal in regards to outcome, talent, ambition or status. A society that values equality over liberty will end up with neither because the power required to make every one equal in outcome, talent, ambition or status will strip all of their freedom.
A true conservative always starts with core principles to make sense of the world, and then develops policies with the greatest benefit to all — not just a particular subgroup. A real conservative will have a long, previous record of standing for these principles whether by voting or in the public square.
It is of utmost importance that those who call themselves conservatives make absolute certain the candidates they support know and demonstrate they are tethered to conservative principles, not just able to regurgitate conservative policies. Otherwise we may have an instance of “What’s My Line”, but guessing incorrectly in this game will have disastrous consequences.
Unfortunately many conservatives are angry. We have a do-nothing Republicans in Congress. We were saddled with two dismal Republican (faux-conservative) nominees who ran in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. But anger is a dangerous emotion. It can lead people to make poor choices. So when a candidate tries to take advantage of all that pent up frustration and anger, we must be certain cooler heads prevail. We must ask whether the candidate is just getting the answers right, or are they truly tethered to the conservative principles which will lead them to the right answers, no matter what may be to their advantage.
Who to Support?
When looking at which candidate to support, ask yourself which ones talk about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, limited government and the Constitution. Those are the true conservatives. They start by “conserving the principles” of the Founding Fathers and working out from there. They are tethered tight to a system of beliefs that mirror the Founders. The others are just picking policies and making them their own in order to win votes. These faux-conservatives can change their mind at any time it pleases them (no matter how passionate they may sound now). Remember foxes do not appear as foxes, but are clever and disguise themselves as sheep in order to get into the middle of the herd.
If we nominate another faux-conservative in 2016 — and if they win — we are likely to live through four years of much talk but little action. A faux conservative President will mean the same thing as our current majority in the House and Senate mean — nothing. Meanwhile our country will slip deeper into an economic and moral morass from which will be most difficult to recover.