Those of us who listen to Mark Levin know two things for sure: (1) He’s a conservative, and (2) He’s pragmatic in the way that he approaches true conservatism. This second reality may sound contrary to popular belief since he’s often accused of being impractical with the application of some of his ideals, but in truth his pragmatism is pure when applied to a society that embraces conservatism. In other words, his ideas are only impractical if you accept that liberalism cannot be defeated. If you assume that conservatism is right and, if allowed to flourish, would yield a better circumstance for everyone, then the only practical approach is to acknowledge the primacy of conservatism as the future of a prosperous America.
One topic with which I disagreed with Levin initially is his premise that conservatism is not an ideology. I recall first hearing about the idea in a comment on one of my articles. Someone said something to the effect of, “I agree with everything you’re saying, but don’t call conservatism an ideology. It’s not.” That led me to explore the concept which brought me to Levin’s perspective. Yesterday, it was reiterated at CR:
It’s an impassioned way of making the point and it worked. Liberalism, socialism, Republicanism… they’re all ideologies. The challenge with an ideology is that it focuses on the governance of a land and/or people that follows certain tenets laid out by pundits and wonks, philosophers and academics, manipulators and power-brokers. They are substitutes for and barriers around the driving forces of humanity. They go against our God-given rights by imposing man-made restrictions. They take us from our higher revelations and bring us down to our baser natures.
Let’s look at these three prominent ideologies growing in America today with examples of how they contradict the intended and righteous nature of this country.
A liberal ideology works against the people by making freedom a weapon to be wielded against itself. It distorts freedoms by finding other “freedoms” to impose ahead of them. It isn’t just in laws and government. In the policies of institutions such as universities and sporting leagues, liberalism is entrenched. Some examples:
- A baker’s freedom to practice her religion is superseded by a gay couple’s freedom to not be “discriminated” against.
- A college student’s right to not be close to someone that might offend them supersedes another college student’s right to listen to a conservative speaker.
- A woman’s right to use the restroom with other women is superseded by a transgender’s right to select which bathroom suits them at that moment.
For liberals, rights must be inclusive to a fault. Feelings are more important than realities and any sensible rights, whether given by God or declared by the Constitution, are subject to revisions based upon the knee-jerk reactions of the moment. The greatest danger that liberalism imposes on us all is the threat of destroying the things that have made this country great for the sake of promoting a fleeting opportunity to feel good for the moment. They thrive on temporary fixes and instant gratification, foundation be damned.
There’s no need to delve too deeply into this one. If you’re reading this article, chances are very strong that you’re well-aware of the dangers of a socialist ideology. What’s mine is not really just mine. Laziness is rewarded while industrialism and hard work are condemned. It’s the essence of the dystopian end to Atlas Shrugged, though what was written as hyperbole back then is sadly not far from the reality that socialists want to impose today.
(Quick note: I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand or the anti-Biblical faux-conservatism that her writing often espoused, but when understood from an academic perspective, Atlas Shrugged made some good points about capitalism and personal responsibility.)
If a liberal ideology focuses on victories for the moment, a socialist ideology is the long-term extension that can have no possible end other than economic collapse. Socialism works for a very brief moment. It is fundamentally flawed because it cannot sustain itself for longer than a few decades, even in a country as blessed as America.
Many pundits believe that Donald Trump is hijacking the Republican Party. In reality, he’s the culmination of a Republican ideology that has been growing for five decades. There was, of course, an eight-year period from 1981-1989 when the Republican ideology had to retreat to the shadows, but it has continued to expand and take root since revolting against the modern conservative movement’s rise of the early 1960s.
Of all the major political ideologies, this is the hardest to see. It’s camouflaged by the conservatives in its midst and keeps everyone guessing through doublespeak veiled by right-wing enthusiasm. For decades, we’ve watched the Republican ideology in practice while they talk like conservatives, particularly during campaign season. Some examples:
- Their campaign pledges are to cut spending, cut taxes, and eliminate frivolous expenditures, but they increase spending, replace taxes with other taxes, and add to frivolous expenditures.
- They say that want to stop Obamacare, then condemn any action that is taken against it (remember how they condemned Ted Cruz in 2013 for going after Obamacare, then ignored him when they won control of the Senate a year later).
- Around elections, they promote the ideas of a free market economy, but will say nothing about Trump’s proposed minimum wage increase or free paid maternity leave.
Why do they embrace Trump’s promise to spend more and increase the national debt? Why won’t they tell him that entitlements are destroying any future the country might have? How do they justify his constant pull to the left without protest or guidance?
The answer should be violently obvious. Trump hasn’t hijacked the Republican Party. He’s enabled it to be itself unencumbered by conservative principles. Donald Trump isn’t the disease that has overcome Republican ideology. He’s the symptom of an ailment that has always been there hidden beneath a thin layer of conservatism that has been the nature they’ve presented to the public for decades.
With Trump, the Republican Party can safely shed its unwelcome outer skin and operate as the big-government crony capitalistic entity that it has always wanted to be.
Conservatism is not an ideology
From time to time, I have to catch myself as I continue to call it an ideology. I’m sure the phrase “conservative ideology” has slipped through from time to time out of convenience to keep an unbroken flow of consciousness without having to give an explanation about the phrase. This is that explanation.
The thing that differentiates conservatism from the ideologies that attempt to compete with it is the notion of principle. An ideology is the science of ideas pertaining to a particular leaning that manifests as laws and philosophies. A principle, once embraced, becomes self-evident and overarching. A conservative does not have to weigh and balance ideas on a scale. They can recognize the validity of a stance based solely on the precepts of God and our founding fathers.
A principle in its purest form is a state of being. We don’t espouse conservative ideas. We are conservatives. We don’t have conservative guidelines that we apply to our lives. We live as conservatives. Conservatism is a set of principles, therefore conservatism is a state of being.
That’s not to say that everything is black and white. Conservatism works from the core of an issue. Conservatives can debate whether there should be exceptions that allow for an abortion or at what point an egg becomes a human life, but at the core a conservative knows that abortion is murder. Issue by issue, there can be debates between conservatives, but any question pertaining to the core of an issue should only yield disagreement when the premise is misunderstood by one or both sides of that argument.
What is the conclusion to be drawn from this understanding? The Republican Party cannot be fixed from within. It must be recognized for what it is and the ideology that it holds dear. An occasional flash of conservative thought or a policy proposal that jibes with conservative principles is inevitable, but at the heart of the party is Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell. Louie Gohmert will never be Speaker of a Republican-led House. Mike Lee will never be Senate Majority Leader of a Republican-led Senate. They and people like them are the outsiders, the misfits, the necessary evils to a Republican Party that believes in the sanctity of the Establishment and the preeminence of the Republican ideology over conservative principles.
Through education, grassroots outreach, and an unyielding commitment to enable Americans through freedom, we can break through the bonds of ideology. Conservatism doesn’t need to be defended or even promoted. It simply needs to be released. True conservatism will spread once it’s free from the Republican Party because true conservatism is right. This is why we must form a new conservative party. America needs it now more than ever.