I have to admit I am terrible at actually getting my thoughts written out. I spend a great deal of time reading, watching, and listening to the talking heads drone on about this, that, and the other thing. I then take forever getting around to typing my thoughts out. I would like to stay away from becoming one of those bland talking heads, but we most often find our paths on the one we take to avoid it. (I think I heard that in the philosophical film Kung fu Panda) So here I am, and I am very grateful to The New Americana for giving me an opportunity, and to the people who read and share my opinion. Without you, I am just some weirdo sitting at his computer all day.
I am regularly told on social media that by not supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton I am no longer a conservative. Does anybody even know what it means to be conservative? The word gets thrown around so often these days, along with invocations of Ronald Reagan. Yet the meaning seems to be lost. If you asked an average voter what it means to be conservative today, I am sure the answer would involve voting Republican. However, Conservatism is standalone. It is not tied to party, or even people. Granted, the Republican Party for a long time has stood for conservative principles, but the times, they are a-changin’. If you talk to a grassroots conservative activist those times have a-changed long ago. The Republican Party has not stood on conservative principles for some time. However, to the majority of voters, conservative values go hand-in-hand with the once Grand Ol’ Party. This has the consequence that when one fails the other does too.
It seems we have heard this song before
Each election cycle, voters head to the polls, and in the past several elections we have seen the “most conservative” candidate victorious. They head to Washington D.C. promising to change things, and promising to fight. That rarely is the case. They come back to the electorate with a million and one excuses as to why they did not fulfill this promise, or why they just could not fulfill that one. Excuse after excuse come pouring in while everything stays the same. Yet, we as voters seem content. We look to the Representatives and Senators of other states and say “they are the problem, not my guy.” (OR gal -I do not want to be insensitive) That is why a Congress with an abysmal approval rating has a FANtastic re-election rate. Yet we the voters have nothing to show for it. Heck, even in this election cycle, where there is supposedly this massive voter anger at Washington, incumbents are being re-elected left and right. This is the anger the media tells us spawned the Donald Trump candidacy. It seems a rather selective anger.
Given all that I just addressed, it is no surprise the meaning of “conservative” has been lost. Despite misuse, what it means to be a conservative and stand for conservative principles does not change. The beauty of these values is that they are tied to Americana. My view of conservatism growing up was in my parents. Not through their politics, but through their actions. They worked hard to provide a life for me and my sister. They helped our neighbors, and were charitable. They realized that our freedoms come from our Creator, and not from our government. They knew that America was the only place on the earth that provided the exceptional liberty and opportunity we see diminishing today. They did not need government to lay out their principles for them. Earlier this year, the Junior Senator from Nebraska, Republican Ben Sasse, gave Chuck Todd his take on what it means to be a conservative:
“America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world because the U.S. Constitution is the best political document that’s ever been written. Because it says something different than almost any people in any government has believed in human history. Most governments in the past said ‘might makes right’ and the King has all the power and the people are dependent subjects, and the American founders said ‘no.’ God gives us rights by nature and government is just a shared project to secure those rights. Government is not the author or source of our rights.”
Conservatism is tied intrinsically to the founding of America and its founding documents. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life (even for the unborn), liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ronald Reagan proclaimed:
“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
I prefer the modern twist, “less government, more fun.” Minimizing government maximizes liberty. That is conservatism at its core.
Time for a reboot
Let me drop some shocking truth on you. Are you sitting down? Good. I do not know everything. Now that the surprise has worn off…I am a young man. I was not alive during Reagan’s presidency, and conservatism does not resonate with my generation. We saw that very clearly with the Bernie Sanders candidacy. If we as conservatives want these principles to survive, we must go back to the basics. The message of limited government is a powerful message. Right now, that message is being lost in translation.