Sunday, May 03, 2009

The True Conservative (Part I)

Though I've been meaning to write an article similar to this for some time, it's seemed as if I was having trouble thinking of exactly how to phrase or write it. So now I'll simply do what I do best- just write, and let it flow out as it should.

In my conversations, discussions, and arguments of all things political, I have found that there seems to be a consensus on what "conservatism" is that is highly inaccurate among liberals, and even moderately inaccurate among moderates and "conservatives" themselves. Inasmuch as I have grown weary of people accusing me of holding views that I do not have, I thought it would be prudent to spell out what "conservatism" is, as I understand it.

As many wiser men before I have said, the best way to understand something is to understand its history. I'll attempt to be brief here, but it will make the rest of this column easier to understand. Modern American "conservatism", is not really in fact conservative. Yes, it is technically more conservative than modern "liberalism", however today's conservatism is really American classical liberalism- the idea that every man is a free individual, born with inalienable rights. Also inherent is the idea that the government is set up in service of the people, there to insure their basic liberty and empowering them to better themselves through their own actions. In a sense, we "conservatives" are really the liberals.

But what does that make liberals? Modern American liberalism is nearly identical, and indeed the (somewhat) evolved form of the American Progressives (you might have sometimes heard a liberal refer to himself as a "progressive", this is completely accurate- moreso than the term "liberal" would be). Progressives grounded their policy views in the beliefs that the government was meant to provide for every citizen, and every citizen was bound to one another in order to create a more perfect society. Social responsibility. In a word, socialism.

However, the Progressives had a different point of view than the communists- while the communists wanted to apply their ideas to the entire world ("Workers of the world, unite!"), the Progressives had a more nationalistic view, and merely wanted to apply socialist principles to strengthen the nation. Their policies meant to further this goal included nationalizing industries, extinguishing (or at least marginalizing) religion, militarizing the citizenry, and eugenics. There is another word for this, and indeed they (before 1940) showed much affection for its European cousin: "Fascism."

Now, since most of the people reading this went to public school, they're probably under the mistaken impression that fascism is a "conservative" or "right-wing" thing, but nothing could be further from the truth. I guarantee you that no American conservative would ever agree with expanding the government and nationalizing the economy- as a matter of fact, we're strenuously protesting it with our new, Progressive president. It is in fact, exactly how the Nazis termed it- it's what "Nazi" stands for, the "National Socialists". The Progressives on this side of the ocean were praising Mussolini and even Hitler for fascism's supposed successful strides, up until the point we went to war with them and "fascism" became a dirty word, quickly regulated to being merely an epithet for whomever liberals don't like, devoid of any real political meaning.

In any case, I can (and probably eventually will) go into a more in-depth reasoning for why it is so; but suffice to say that modern liberalism in America is really 1920's-30's era Progressivism. "Conservatives" are actually classical liberals. That is to say, some of them are.

Here's where it might become rather uncomfortable for my "conservative" friends, because I do not believe that there are many true conservatives left. We are not represented by any political party in this country. True conservatives support the classical ideals of American liberalism- the original, strict interpretation of the Constitution and the Framer's intents with writing such a thing. We take into account the overwhelming Christian influence in their lives, and their having just won their freedom from a tyranny. We truly believe that the federal government was delegated certain powers, as it says: The powers of the Federal Government are few and specific, the powers of the States many and ambiguous.

Any true conservative (from this point, I will refer to "true conservatives" as "classical liberals") can see that the federal government has overstepped its boundaries in an indescribable way, and has far too much control over both its citizens and its States. We can tell you that 98% of government programs are not only wasteful but completely unconstitutional, the Federal Government is in an egregious violation of its rights and powers according to the Constitution.

Classical liberals believe that the plan the Constitution laid out was a pretty solid one: simply enough, the only jobs of the Federal Government are: foreign affairs, war, international trade, and maintaining a common national currency. Nowhere would any possible part of the Constitution support the Federal Government's programs on welfare, education, regulation of the domestic economy- the list could go on and on (it CERTAINLY wouldn't provide for "bailouts" using our hard-earned money to save incompetent companies). Foreign affairs, war, and international trade, and maintaining a common national currency. That's it. That's the Federal Government's job. Everything else was clearly delegated to the States- and the States can pretty much do what they want within their borders, subject to the will of its voters. They can make state religions (as many used to), ban or legalize gay marriage, the likes with flag-burning amendments, polygamy, whatnot- that's within the States' rights.

Here's where most "modern conservatives" and classical liberals (TRUE conservatives) like myself part company. A lot of modern conservatives want to use the Federal Government to expand their own beliefs- for example, a marriage amendment to the Constitution. I believe that this is wrong in its entirety. I believe that any unnecessary expansion of the Federal Government (when such an issue can be resolved easily within the state, as has been done) is unconstitutional in a most extreme sense. No, I do not believe homosexual marriage is either moral or legally prudent- but that's for the citizens of a State to decide. Inasmuch as their marriage laws should have no bearing on the citizens of another State, if a state were to legalize homosexual marriage, the Federal Government should not have the power to decide that the State is not allowed to govern its own affairs. Conservatives who promote the idea of a federal Marriage Amendment are no less fascistic than the militant homosexual lobbies promoting the opposite.

The problem, as Jonah Goldberg put it, is that "we are all fascists now."

I will conclude my observations about what a true conservative is in the next column- try not to berate me that this one is unfinished inasmuch as it's clearly titled "Part I".