The following is from Kyle Caparella from The American Youth on every Saturday night at 8 ET to 10 ET on Windows to Liberty.
Much of the mainstream media today will portray conservatives and the concepts of conservatism to be outdated, racist, and “the party of no”. Without discussing the principles, morals, and values of conservatism popular media has painted a picture so far from true standing that has caused many to misunderstand the reasoning and logic behind conservatism. There is no realization of the toils of our founding fathers. They made it their main focus to insure the protection of individual liberties by a limited federal government, and lately it seems that these ideals are being tossed away in hopes for a quick fix to our economic problems. These quick fixes are no newer a concept than sliced bread and never work the way they are intended, but still there is a huge push by mainstream media for these failed ideas. By using influential members of society and pushing the rhetoric of “common good” into our everyday lives the media has mislead many honest Americans into believing that they are really doing what is best for them by doing what is best for the community; neglecting completely the foundation of our country and what makes us unique from the rest of the world. This being our individualism.
Conservatism is about believing in the principles and values on which this country was founded. These principles are rooted in our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and not an unlimited government to normalize every aspect of our lives. The concepts of life and liberty are fairly well known, but the pursuit of happiness phrase is widely misunderstood. The government doesn’t guarantee you happiness, but rather guarantees that each of us has the right to pursue whatever happiness we please, as long as we do not to infringe upon the rights of others. Our founding fathers believed so strongly in individualism that they placed the rights of the individual above the rights of the society. Conservatism calls for a return to our Constitution and the way our founding fathers intended for our nation; a small, limited government based around protecting individual liberties. With much of the mainstream media negatively portraying conservatives as careless and out dated it is easy to fall prey to the “hip-ness” of liberalism and forget the foundation of conservatism is vested in the rights of the people, protected by our Constitution.
Our country was founded on a basis of individual freedom and individual responsibility; you can live your life the way you choose, but you also have to take responsibility for your life, your choices, and pay the consequences of these choices. It is not the responsibility of the government to protect you from bad choices, ignorance, or poor judgment. That is for you to decide. It is also not the up to the government to provide you with necessities like shelter, food, medical care, or employment. All of that, again, is your responsibility. By the same token, the government does not have the right to take away what is rightfully yours to provide for others.
Essential to understanding individual freedom is the idea of private property.
The fruits of your labor, your mind, talents, and skills belong only to you. You can choose to share what’s yours with anyone you would like, but that is up to you. It’s not the government’s decision to take what you’ve earned and redistribute it to others. Our founding fathers realized that in order to maintain individual freedom, the powers of the federal government must be restricted. By our Constitution the only valid role of the government is to protect your rights from being infringed upon by others. On a local level that means law enforcement and criminal justice. In a national scope that means a strong military force.
The cornerstone of a free society is the free market system. A lot of people instantly confuse a free market with corporations and big businesses, but that is incorrect. A free market system simply means that every act of the business is entered by free will of the involved parties. No coercive action is to occur; therefore a free market transaction is always win-win because if either party feels they aren’t getting value for the transaction, they can walk away from it. When subsidies, tariffs, and other regulatory constraints are placed on the free market the free will of people to choose how to spend their earnings is ignored with the understanding that government knows what’s best for us.
The Constitution of the United States of America was written and signed September 17, 1787, but was not ratified until 1788, when it replaced the Articles of Confederation, which were found ineffective as they could only suggest action from the states. A sense of potential disaster due to a lack of a strong, but limited, federal government encouraged the formation of the Constitutional Convention, which began debating possibilities on May 25, 1787. After four months of secret discussions and many compromises, they had come up with a proposal for the states.
The vote was close in some states, mainly due to the lack of a bill of rights, but eventually the Constitution was ratified as the new federal government of the United States of America. The call for a bill of rights was loud and clear; there was a demand for a more succinct Constitution, one that the right of the people and restrictions of governmental power were clearly stated. James Madison wrote, on October 17, 1788 that such “fundamental maxims of free Government” would be “a good ground for an appeal to the sense of community” against potential oppression and would “counteract the impulses of interest and passion.” It is said that Madison’s support for the bill of rights was critically important. As one of the new representatives in the First Federal Congress, as established by the Constitution, he worked diligently to sway the House to pass the amendments; in turn smoothing out any opposition to the Constitution as it was. By December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states had ratified the ten amendments, now familiar to Americans as the “Bill of Rights”.
Our current system is not as it was intended by our Founding Fathers. Over time it has been perverted into an atrocity of federal power, and has created an entitlement mentality due to welfare hand-outs and government bailouts a plenty. Think welfare works? Picture this analogy; a man and a woman decide to put out a bird feeder in their back yard. They were delighted to see all the birds flock to their feeder, but over time more and more birds came around. Soon their back yard was littered with droppings and they had to buy more food to feed more birds. It got to the point where the birds started attacking them when they were bringing the food. Eventually they took the bird feeder down and stopped feeding the birds, and after a while there were no more birds attacking them or littering their yards with droppings. There is nothing wrong with giving a hand-up, but there is a big problem with giving a hand-out. How many times have you heard those on Welfare or other social programs complain, “You owe me”?
Implemented over time by Presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, social programs have defied our founding principles by making the government responsible for the lives of many individuals; giving food, shelter, employment, and other necessities. For many it becomes a lifestyle. We must remember that our nation is based upon individual liberties, and with that comes great responsibility. We are responsible for our own lives; therefore, while the intentions of social programs may be warm and fuzzy, by our founding documents it is our own responsibility to provide these things for ourselves and our dependents, not the duty of the government. People become dependent on government for their necessities, and in turn lose their freedoms.
Our founding fathers laid forth a foundation that, over many years, has been eroded and withered away by good intentions for the “common good”. But what has failed to be realized by many is that the basis of our whole culture teeters on the rights of the individual. The concept of redistributing wealth goes against your right to private property. Your earnings belong to you and you alone. You are the sole keeper and decider of what you do with your possessions, and the government does not have the right to take that away. A conservative believes in, and lives by, the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, and moral values; the core principles of our Constitution and other founding documents. Much of the media today doesn’t take the time to discuss what conservatism is really about, as they would much rather bash those who are doing everything they can to hold onto what little freedom they have left. It’s no wonder why “hope” and “change” are such inspiring and moving words in today’s day and age. We have strayed so far from our intentional path that we do need some change. But the change we need is change back to the founding principles found in our Constitution and the morals found in the Bible.
Paul Edward Gottfried, Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right,
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America, Simon and
Schuster, 1999. p. 269
Brian J. Glenn and Steven Michael Teles, Conservatism and American Political Development
Jonah Goldberg, "What Is a 'Conservative'?", National Review Online, (11 May 2005)
John Charmley, A History of Conservative Politics Since 1830, (2nd ed. 2008)
W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap, (2006)