by Diane Rufino, September 1, 2014
True Conservatives understand why our country is falling apart. It’s not that we lack the power and the ability to be the country we used to be; it’s that our citizenry has willfully and ignorantly abandoned a moral imperative to defend our American ideals by living those ideals. America is special because of the ideals that she was founded on and the ideals that most people around the world still thinks she stands for. But what they don’t know is that those ideals have been turned on its head. The exercise of freedom that once defined her is now killing her. How is this happening? It’s because of the implied understanding that with great freedom comes great responsibility and the fact that too many people – including most of our citizens, most of our country’s social leaders, most of our elected representatives, and certainly most of our sitting judges – have shirked the responsibility they have. Conservatives – true conservatives – are trying to conserve those fundamental ideals. They thought it would be easy because after all, the nexus between our greatness and the bedrock principles defined in our Declaration and protected in our Constitution is uncontested. Yet, sadly, we see that It has become popular to make fun of “conservatives,” and in some communities, the very word “conservative” is too offensive to even speak. This is our downfall.
The first definition in Webster’s Online Dictionary of “conservatism” defines it as “A political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes.” The second definition, by Webster, defines the term as “The disposition and tendency to preserve what is established; opposition to change;…” So, if conservatism means the preservation of an “establishment,” what is that establishment?
The establishment that conservatives mean to preserve is that of our founding, including American first principles like contribution to society, constitutionally-limited government, state sovereignty, independence from unnecessary assistance or control, common-sense in financial matters, fiscal responsibility, honesty, free speech and religious practice, the pursuit of happiness, the protection of human life, personal responsibility, and respect for the Judeo-Christian foundation that was and is woven into our nation’s fabric.
Every problem we face today can be traced to a large, imposing government and to the fact that it has strayed away from one or more of the principles listed above. We can’t hope to survive and overcome our problems with such a powerful top-down, one-size-fits all centralized government. This was not the government of our Founders or of the 13 original “countries” (as England publicly recognized in 1791) who voluntarily formed into the union that established our country.
The problem, in short, is that government has gotten out of hand. Instead of protecting liberty, it is skillfully eroding it. By claiming to offer greater freedom to those living in “poverty” by relieving them of their discomforts, it is denying fundamental freedoms to those who the government feels can “give up some of their comforts.” “Comforts,” my friends, is another word for “pursuit of happiness.” We all have the right to pursue it but we don’t have the right to demand it. It’s a right and not an entitlement. By denying fundamental liberty rights to America’s middle class and wealthier citizens, the government is actually eroding our traditional notions of freedom and doing irreparable harm to the fundamental rights of ALL citizens. As John Adams once wrote to his wife Abagail: “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
And Thomas Jefferson also gave us a few words of warning: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” President Gerald Ford reminded a Joint Session of Congress of this warning in 1974 when he addressed both Houses.
Our downfall is the growing socialization of our country…. It is the growing (and perhaps political) incumbency to “take care” of people instead of protecting and enlarging their freedom to take care of themselves. The downfall is our ever-increasing entitlement mentality and the growing financial obligations of a government that has adopted that mentality. We can’t afford to support a political ideology that excuses so many people of taking responsibility for their lives and their conduct. We can’t raise all the children that people want. We can’t keep giving out checks (funneling money from hard-working, responsible families) to those who can’t assume responsibility for their sexuality and having children out of wedlock (or even worse, for the express purpose of getting that check). We can’t afford to provide social services for every person who wants to come to this country. Our Constitution promises its citizens that there will be enforced immigration laws. It’s ridiculous that all of a sudden so many Americans just happen to be “disabled” and therefore relieved from working for a living.
Many years ago, religion and morality had its place in America’s government and in America’s citizenry. There were certain ground rules to government, because as our earlier generations understood, government was instituted (as the Declaration says) first and foremost to protect our INDIVIDUAL rights (not collective rights) of Life, Liberty, and property. “Pursuit of Happiness” was the term chosen by Jefferson to not only include property, but other rights, most notably the right to use one’s own intellectual property and ambition to acquire property and thus “happiness.” A moral people RESPECTED the rights of others. It’s guidelines included some of the basic tenets of the Ten Commandments, including the commandments not to covet and not to steal. There are too many people in this country who claim to be religious and claim that the Church dominates their lives and their conduct but have NO problem taking money from those who have the natural right to keep it. This is simply common sense. You work, you earn, you keep it (minus a tiny bit to support services that benefit YOU and the protection of YOUR rights). The old motto used to be “I must work to eat.” Now the motto is: “You work and I eat.” Government policies too often foster immoral conduct. And the growing immortality that has resulted is killing our culture of liberty. We need to BEWARE. And if liberty is to survive, I believe that groups of people will need to separate. Sad to have to think like this.
In the meantime, religion and morality MUST be qualities we demand in our elected officials, if we can even hope to restore this country to the City on the Hill that it was meant to be – where its people are of the content and character worthy of the grand principles it was founded on. If our elected officials are to uphold the Constitution and defend – CONSERVE – our traditional and honorable institutions, they must do right as God gives them the ability to understand what is right. And if we can do that, and if we have such men and women in office, then I believe they will do the very best for America.
Shawn Paul, “What Does it Mean to Be a Conservative,” Western Journalism, November 24, 2012. Referenced at: http://www.westernjournalism.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-conservative/