So, what is American Conservatism? Pt. 2: (…and why does it matter?)

Rev War Soldiers mdWhy does it matter that we as Americans hold true to the ideals of the Founding Fathers?  That is the question after all, at the heart of the matter.  A quick lesson in American history may provide an answer.  America started as a British colony.  At the time of the Revolution, all the colonists were, therefore, subjects to King George III.  Britain was in the midst of expanding its empire but had competition from countries such as France, Spain, and Portugal.  Staying ahead of that competition meant ships, arms, and armies.  Trans-Atlantic commerce and the taxes that came with them were needed to finance this expansion.  The primary grievance of the colonists was that, unlike their brothers across the pond, they had no say in the creation of the taxes being levied upon them, otherwise known as “taxation without representation”.  As well as needing as much tax revenue as could be gotten from the Colonies, the Crown also needed to exploit America’s vast natural resources, timber, in particular, was in high demand to make ships for the Royal fleet.  To a large degree, American industrial production was being dictated from overseas.  It could be said then that the British economy was a command economy.  To be fair, virtually all economies at that time were command economies.   The colonists found themselves at a political and economic impasse with the Mother Country.  They wanted a greater say in how their economy would be run, but their King and Parliament could hardly afford to part with considerable wealth coming from America, nor could they offer the Colonies the greater autonomy they demanded.  For this, many of the colonists found themselves in direct opposition to their ruler, who they came to see as a tyrant.  The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights were purposefully written by the Founders as the antidotes to tyranny, and to prevent homegrown tyrants from replacing the ones they’d just thrown off.  It follows then that the further we deviate from the ideals espoused in these founding documents, the more likely we are to slip back into the grasp of tyrants. 

Conservatives see the  American Revolution for what it was– a struggle for liberty and freedom against an oppressive government that the colonists had no and in making and little hope of influencing.  They recognize that our founding documents were written for the express reason of providing a means for claiming and keeping their God-given rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. They recognize that freedom loving people forget these reasons for America’s founding at their peril. 


So, what is American conservatism?

American conservatism is a movement among the American people concerned with the preservation and restoration of those values espoused by the Founding Fathers and enshrined in our founding documents.  Central to these are ideas set forth in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Another tenet of American conservatism is that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the ultimate arbiters of American government and justice.  They are our guiding documents from which all law in this country must be derived.  Conservatives see these not as just suggestions to be followed or ignored according to the whims of those in power but are solid principles to be followed as literally and closely as possible in each and every instance where law is made or interpreted.  To be a conservative is to guard against any erosion of the Constitution’s power.  It is to hold the belief that following it should not be a choice, but the sworn duty of all government officials.More than just

Defining Conservatism

In essays to follow, when I refer to “conservatism” I’ll usually be referring to American conservatism, but first, let’s define what conservatism is in general. At the root of the word is (to) conserve, or to control or prevent loss.   Conservatism then is a social/political philosophy concerned with the control and prevention of the loss of those principles upon which the nation or society in question was founded.  More simply: staying true to founding principles.  Therefore:  Conservatism will look different depending on the context.  For example, conservatism to a leader in the Peoples Republic of China will look a lot different than conservatism in the U.S.A.   Since modern China was formed as a communist state, their founding principles are based upon those of Chairman Mao, Marx, and Lenin. Concepts such as free markets and democracy would be considered “liberal” in that context.  Vladimir Putin could be said to be a consummate conservative from the point of view of a U.S.S.R. nostalgic, though his political philosophy varies greatly with American conservatism.

It is critically important to anyone wishing to carry the American conservative message to others to understand this point:  Conservatism is relative to the society in question.  Liberals constantly and effectively use our ignorance of what the word “conservatism” really means, to serve up their own fallacious definition, one that creates a cartoonish notion of the goose-stepping, white sheet wearing, misogynist bigot.  They purposely conflate terms like “right wing” and “Fascist” with conservatism to propagate a false image of American conservatives.  Think of this—Hitler could be considered a conservative from a German point of view.  The “German” way he was trying to conserve was a mainly idealistic, fanciful notion of a Germany from the Middle Ages, one long gone.  He’s seen today as a proponent of a “right wing” philosophy, despite the fact he was a socialist.  Liberals take advantage of this in this way:  Hitler was a (social) conservative and a NAZI, Reagan, Bush, et al. are also considered conservatives, therefore Reagan, Bush, and Hitler are to be considered as being Fascists, Nazis, etc. See how that works! The Liberal Name Game:  NAZI’s=Fascists=Conservatives=Republicans.  The mainstream media buys into and propagates this false notion. 

Welcome to Liberty Relearned Pt. 2

While weighing the pros and cons of starting a conservative blog,  I wondered what I could contribute to the discussion.  Did I have any new ideas and insights to share?  There are after all, plenty of groups such as the Tea Party and the Heritage Foundation espousing the virtues of conservatism already. Would my lone voice get lost in the chorus?  Another consideration was the possibility of being labeled an “extremist” or “rabble rouser” by those opposed to personal liberty.   Did I want to call attention to myself in a country where ideas like conservatism and libertarianism are often met with derision by a certain segment of the population, incited by the mainstream media’s often disingenuous portrayal of conservatives?  Would it not be easier to just attend the occasional demonstration or rally where I could remain safely anonymous carrying my sign or banner and going home afterwards?  Would it not be enough for example, to march with my fellow vets on Washington D.C. to protest the unjustifiably closed WWII Memorial by a cynical administration out to score a political point?  Even with this rising tide of conservatism and patriotism, there is still a continuing assault on our liberty, and we are barely holding the line.

As a whole, we conservatives too often find ourselves unable to articulate the virtues of conservatism in a consistent, coherent enough way as to resonate with the populace and counter the liberals’ double talk, half-truths and misleading rhetoric.  I have grown increasingly disappointed with some of the conservatives on TV and radio who seem unable to effectively debate their opponents on the left.  They simply come back with their own talking points or talk over their opponent– debate reduced to a verbal tennis match.  Meanwhile, they miss opportunities to dismantle their opponent’s arguments.  Oh if William F. Buckley Jr. were still alive!  I lament. Now, I’m no great orator, nor am I some sort of charismatic leader.  If anything, I consider myself a pretty fair writer. Though it may be a conceit, I think I could hold my own in a debate.  Maybe, just maybe, my contribution to the cause of liberty can be more than just a face in the crowd.  If I can help though my writing just one conservative to win an argument with a liberal/statist sycophant I would consider the whole endeavor worth it.   -JM

Welcome to Liberty Relearned. pt. 1

Welcome to Liberty Relearned, pt. 1

I have long considered starting a conservative blog.  Like many Americans, I want to voice my opinions, make criticisms, and offer solutions to what I see going on in America.  There are so many of them though, and the idea of putting my thoughts in writing for everyone to see was worth careful consideration.  In the days just before and after the passing of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, conservative and libertarian organizations and blogs sprang up like wildflowers in the summertime.  These ranged in quality and content from the ranting of conspiracy theorists, to slick, professional journals.  I was not sure that in this bumper crop of libertarian/conservative leaning blogs that my voice might not get lost.  If I was going to start a blog, it could not be just another conservative blog, by another guy venting his frustrations at the government from behind a keyboard.  It would have to be something a little different, have a different angle.   My blog would be where my fellow Americans could learn, or relearn about the cause of liberty. 3Amflags