The Conservative Vision
The Republican Party is in a crisis right now. It is not due to the Democrats taking over control of Congress. It has to do with losing the vision of conservatism.
If anything, Republicans lost Congress because they have lost the vision of political conservatism that Ronald Reagan brought to this country. They have allowed themselves to be cowed by the sheer amount of noise that the left has generated in attacking conservative principles. This wall of noise has fooled Republican leadership into thinking that conservatism is not popular in America, that the people want liberalism.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. A 2003 Gallup poll showed that 40% of Americans identified themselves as conservative, 40% said they were moderates, and 20% said they were liberal. A similar survey from the 60s showed that this percentage has not changed in the last 50 years.
So what is the conservative vision? A great place to find it is in a speech made by Ronald Reagan in 1964, referred to on the Reagan2020.us site simply as “The Speech.” You can see it here:
I’ll summarize Reagan’s conservative vision:
1. America is the greatest country in the world because it offers the maximum amount of individual freedom. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no economic stability within the United States, the last best hope of man on earth.
2. Government is beholden to the people. It derives its power from the people.
3. Outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.
4. The welfare state and government handouts are the way downward for the United States.
5. Progressive taxation, where those with higher incomes pay virtually all of the taxes, is the creation of those who wish to achieve changes in our social order by redistribution of wealth.
6. The doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. You cannot socialize the doctor without socializing the patient.
7. People are better able to plan their own lives than a small intellectual elite in a far-distant capital.
It’s amazing to think that Reagan made that speech in 1964. Its conservative vision shaped his Presidency from 1980-88, and is still very relevant to us today.
Times have changed somewhat since 1964, though much remains the same. I thought it would be interesting to add some things to the conservative vision that Reagan outlined in 1964.
a. Three institutions, the family, religion, and the schools, are pillars that elevate society and educate people in the principles that create order in society. If you destroy these institutions, then chaos will eventually ensue in society. The left is working hard at destroying each of these institutions today.
b. When there is unrestrained chaos, it is easier for the socialist to sell his dream of greater government control.
c. Although it is not without its flaws or mistakes, America is still the greatest country on earth, specifically because of its maximum individual freedoms. Its economic prosperity is directly due to its greater personal freedoms.
d. America is not the cause of all the problems in the world. The opposite is true.
e. Because America is the greatest country in the world, it is worth defending. The purpose of the military is to defend America and it is not a crime to do so.
f. The Constitution is an historical, not a “living” document. The job of the judiciary is not to create new laws but to interpret the Constitution.
g. Survival success is caused by hard work, discipline, training, and natural ability. The greater survival success of a specific group does not mean that it has victimized another group that has achieved less success. It means that the group that has succeeded worked harder, had better discipline, training, and natural ability.
h. If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less of something, tax it. In other words, incentives work and they matter. If you incentivize a non-survival behavior like not working (as in welfare) you’ll get more of that behavior. If you penalize a survival behavior like creating a business or making money (as in progressive taxation) you’ll get less of it.
i. Industrialists and entrepreneurs do not victimize or oppress a person by giving him a job, they help him. Jobs do not appear out of thin air. They are created by industrialists or entrepreneurs seeing a market opportunity, creating a product or service, and figuring out how to market and sell it. This is a rare ability. Not everybody can do it. Therefore these people are valuable and should be encouraged and rewarded, not persecuted.
j. Profits are not obscene. Profits are good. Businesses are supposed to make a profit. In fact, they need to make a profit in order to survive.
k. The earliest settlers on this continent came for freedom of religion. This should be a cornerstone of conservatism now. Freedom for any religion that one chooses. Religion is one of the major civilizing influences in our society. And the vast majority of Americans oppose the attempted removal of religious expressions or symbols from the public square.
l. We are a nation of immigrants. But since we did not steal our prosperity, we do not need to give it away to others as a way of propitiation or apology, especially to those who break the law to come here. Living in the most free and prosperous nation in the world is a privilege, not a right.
m. Most of the anti-Americanism abroad is due to jealousy of our prosperity. Leaders of those countries do not GET that our prosperity is due to the level of freedom given to us by the Founding Fathers. Thus, rather than emulating us and extending the same freedoms to their citizens, they buy into the Marxist and cultural Marxism “victim” arguments, and conclude that we have victimized them.
n. It is not a crime for people to live on earth and to become prosperous and survive well. The earth is not a fragile system that will break if we utilize its resources.
o. The test of a governmental theory or program is how well it WORKS, not how nice it sounds or how magnanimous it makes the believer feel.
Because of the sheer amount of noise that the liberal 20% has managed to make, it is easy to think that they are in the majority (they are not and never have been), and to think that things are hopeless and are going down the tubes.
I was recently reading how the doomsayers said that we would never be able to vanquish fascism (Germany, Japan et al). They were wrong. Then they said we would never be able to vanquish Soviet communism. They were wrong. Then they said that American economic supremism in the world was coming to an end and Japan and the Pacific rim were going to rule the world. They were wrong. Now the doomsayers say that Islamofascism is going to take us down, or some (like the clueless John Edwards) say we should stop fighting it because it never was a threat in the first place.
They were wrong before and they’re wrong now. Why? Not because of America’s military might. Not because we are the most dominating economic power. Not because of our dominating culture. Not because of our level of innovation.
All of those things derive from our level of freedom. The level of freedom we enjoy is what has attracted the best and brightest to our shores for 230 years. And that freedom allows a person with skill and ingenuity and ambition to drive himself to get ahead and to create innovations and prosperity and wealth. Other countries are oblivious to the fact that their lack of freedom deprives that person of the chance to create the prosperity they so desperately need and want.
So is America in the twilight of its dreams right now? Is it going down for the count before the threat of Islamifascism or global warming or nuclear rogue states?
Not a chance. The indomitable spirit of Americans, allowed to thrive by its freedoms, will overcome. And we WILL defend this country from outside threats and it is not a crime to do so. Not because we are superior and need to assert our superiority. But because that system, with its great ideas and freedoms and despite its flaws, is worth defending. Because the American system is still the last, best hope of all the countries of earth.
The liberal noise will pass. But ONLY if we embrace the conservative vision, know that it leads to better survival for America, know that the majority of people want it (remember how popular Reagan was?), and fight for the vision and against the liberal noise and lies.
I see a new Morning in America. A 21st Century Morning in America. But only if we fight for the vision. Spread the vision. Send this article to friends. Talk about it. That morning will come.
About The Author
John Eberhard is President of http://www.CommonSenseGovernment.com, and is a writer, political analyst and marketing consultant living in the Los Angeles area. He can be reached at: http://www.commonsensegovernment.com/contactus.html. You can read more of his articles at http://www.commonsensegovernment.com/articles.html