Conservative Principles Defined
Having had some interactions with other hubbers on this site, I have come to the conclusion that there is a misunderstanding of conservatism. I hope to set the record straight. The classic definition of what a conservative stands for is just too simplistic and even wrong. A label is too generic to describe a whole philosophy. I tried not to judge others by labels though it is hard at times. I hope you will do the same and keep an open mind.
I want to make a simple assumption. I assume all of us want the same things pretty much. We just have different ideas about how to best achieve them. To illustrate this, let me present an example of what I mean.
- June 2015
A Case in Point - NSA Spying
I chose the NSA case because it is less controversial than some of the other issues. There is less of a divide between the left and the right. After 9/11, the country decided to beef up security and surveillance to prevent another attack on the homeland. The Patriot Act was rushed through Congress and it gave our security agencies some powers that did not existed before. We were told that these powers were limited to foreign communications and a FISA court would have oversight on its operations. It took a whistle blower by the name of Ed Snowden to expose what the NSA was really doing. We found out that the NSA was capturing all metadata of all people in the US related to phone calls and storing them on a huge data complex in Utah. They believe this will help them with future terrorist investigations and prevention. I believe this is the wrong approach and in fact it is also illegal as ruled by the Supreme Court. Even if it wasn't illegal, I still believe it is the wrong approach. To be effective in this type of work, you need to target or "profile" most likely suspects. By narrowing the search field, you will have a much better chance of finding the possible culprit. This is an example of two very different approaches on trying to solve a big problem. My point in this discussion is highlighting the fact that there are different approaches to almost any problem that we face. What we need as a country is to come up with the right solutions that have real results.
I believe all reasonable people want the same things. We want peace and happiness and prosperity for our family and our community. We want justice for all and a safe environment to pursue our dreams. If I'm wrong, please correct me. What is in debate is policies that will bring about the results that we all want. Some believe that government should play a major role while others believe the individual and local community should play the bigger role. That is the major disagreement. Conservatives believe in the latter and I will go into more details later.
Learning From History
It is George Santayana who said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. It seems to me that we have failed to learn from history. Every so many years, we seem to re-fight the same battles that was settled before. Unfortunately, our schools have failed to teach the new generation the lessons of history and the founding of our country. The term "American Exceptionalism" comes to mind. Young people today take the country for granted and do not understand how unique our country is from its inception. In fact, recently, a school in California, banned the distribution of a copy of the "Constitution" on campus. Checkout the link to the story at the end. How will the next generation "protect and preserve" our heritage if they are not even taught what it is?
Here is my list of Conservative Principles -
- Follow the Constitution
- Believe in divine providence
- American Exceptionalism
- Limited government (federalism)
- Living within our means
- Self Reliance
- Strong National Defense (peace through strength)
- Secured borders
- Equality of opportunity
- Blind Justice
- Judged by Content of our Character not the color of our skin (MLK)
- Believe in the Rule of Law
- Defends the innocent and defenseless
- Free enterprise and capitalism is the best path to prosperity
Some Common Misconceptions (demonization)
Here are some common misconceptions -
- Conservatives wants to go back to the good old days...
- Conservatives are racists
- Conservatives wants dirty air and dirty water
- Conservatives are judgemental
- Conservatives are anti women
- Conservatives are anti gay
- Conservatives are anti immigrants
- Conservatives are bigots
In reality - they are none of the above.
- Conservatives are the most generous - check out the link below.
- Conservatives are optimistic
- Conservatives have common sense
My Personal Conservative Views
Not all conservatives think alike. My general principles are aligned with most conservative thinkers. I have a few personal experiences that reinforces my beliefs. Everything is not based on theoretical ideals. Let me share a few examples.
I was fortunate enough to visit and see many parts of the world. My job with IBM allowed me to travel to many countries and see and experience first hand other countries and cultures. It is undeniable that the America is the best country in the world. There are many places that we may visit and take vacations and enjoy the sights but there is no place like the USA. On one such trip to Germany in the 1990s, I learned first hand what happened to a country that was under communism rule. This was shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain. I landed in Berlin and see a thriving city with modern buildings and booming economic activities. After driving a few miles and crossing into East Germany, I see many buildings in disrepair. People are dressed plainly with looks of despair on their faces. How is this possible? After WWII, Germany was divided into two parts - West Germany which adopted a Democratic government and East Germany under the influence of the Soviet Union adopted Communism. After almost 50 years of experiment, the results are as clear as day and night. With everything else being equal, Capitalism wins over Communism.
My second career was working for a Non-Profit organization that deals with people with disability. It It is very rewarding to see people helping themselves become independent and contribute to society. One of the business is a Document Scanning Service Bureau that help business convert paper to digital format. The production workers are paid close to minimum wage and most are happy with the work. The workload various depending on available customers. Sometimes, when we are busy, we would require more hours from the worker to get the job done on time. However, the number of work hours per employee are limited. This is because they would loose some of their other benefits if they make more than a certain limit - set by the State. Only a government bureaucracy can come up with a scheme to discourage people from work even when they are willing and able.
My brand of conservatism stress tradition, Constitution, "conservation" and not reactionary. Conservation in the sense of "protection" of traditional values, of Constitutional mandates, of our resources and the environment. These principles stands the test of time.
Some Issues and Conservative Solutions
Given the Conservative principles, let's examine a few issues and conservative solutions. For brevity, I will only present a rough outline of the solutions. You can read the details in some links.
- Taxes - Our tax system is too complex and have grown too big and ladened with all sorts of exemptions by special interests and incentives that favor one group over another.
The Conservative solution is the Fair Tax proposal.
- Healthcare - The ACA (Obamacare) bill was passed in 3/23/2010. It has over 2000 pages. This comprehensive bill is unreadable. It is so complex, no one person know what's in it. How can Congress vote on a bill they can't even read? That is one major problem. Here is the Conservative proposal alternative. In my mind, any bill should not be so comprehensive. I challenge anyone to read the original bill and can make sense of it.
- Immigration reform - We do not need a comprehensive immigration policy. What is needed is common sense solutions to our current legal immigration policy. If the process of legal immigration is drastically improved, the natural illegal immigration will slow. We need to secure our borders not only for stopping illegal entry but to stop potential terrorist and for potential spread of communicable diseases.
- Public Education - Our public Education system especially in inner cities are failing. The Conservative solution is to offer alternatives such as charter schools and vouchers to help parent decide what school to send their kids. Trials have been tested with many positive results. Yet, some of our elected officials and the Teacher's union are against it. Why?
- Energy policy - We have an energy policy that is too restrictive. The Conservative proposal is to allow all forms of energy development domestically. That includes oil, gas, coal, nuclear, solar, wind and hydro. Let the free market system work to deliver the most efficient energy. Energy drives the industrial age. We need affordable energy to produce the quality of life for all. Our government has no business favoring one over another with tax credits.
- Climate Change (AGW) - The topic of climate change and human caused global warming is politicized to the point where I have little confidence in the science. We need to get back to the basics and determine the best way to deal with climate change. Any solution must be based on facts that are sound and pass a cost/benefit analysis. My hub on being a skeptic of AGW.
- National Defense - One of the enumerated power of the Federal Government is to provide national defense. Conservatives believe in the Reagan motto - Peace through Strength. The best way to have peace is to have a strong military ready and able.
- Gun Control - The second amendment give us the right to bear arms. Underlying that basic principle is integral to the survival of our republic. Yes, I do believe there should be limits on who can bear arms and registration and background checks. However, some have gone as far to ban guns in the pursuit of safety. That is misguided. Our freedom and individual rights is protected because we have the 2nd amendment. Not only for individual protection but for the protection of our country as established by the Constitution. It is the last line of defense against tyranny.
- Welfare policy - Our current welfare policy is working against the family unit. It pays un-wed mothers to have children and removes the father from the equation. Here is the conservative solution by the Heritage Foundation.
Sometimes There Is No Solution
Conservatives believe that sometimes there is no solution. Government can't fix everything. One issue, in my opinion, is the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. There has been conflict between those two groups for thousands of years. It is naïve to believe that we can solve their problems that are deep rooted. The best we can hope for is a peaceful coexistence. We may just have to defer to a higher power. That is one luxury that people of faith has.
The Two Party System
Currently, our political arena consist of two major parties, Democrats and Republicans. Even though Conservatives have a close affiliation with Republicans, in recent years, it has been challenging to say the least. In my view, the two party system has melted into a one party "big government" party that believes in tax and spend and seems to ignore the American people. During the last days of the Bush presidency, a poll shows that the majority of the American people believes the country in heading in the wrong direction. After 2 major election cycles, and the election of President Obama, the latest poll shows that the American people still believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. How can that be? The answer is obvious. Both parties have put up a good show but underneath, they are controlled by the same groups that works against the wishes of the American people. I believe if this persists, there will be a need to create a third party. One that will be more responsive to the wishes of the American people.
Some Famous Conservatives Past and Present
To learn more about Conservatism, you can read about famous conservatives both past and present. Some of them have written excellent books. Some are on talk radio. Some have regular columns in newspapers.I challenge you to seek out and listen to some of these conservatives. Don't accept what some other people's impressions but hear for yourselves.
The Past -
- Ronald Reagan
- William F. Buckley Jr.
- Bob Grant
- Andrew Breibart
The Present -
- Rush Limbaugh
- Michael Savage
- Mark Levin
- Laura Inghram
- Michelle Malkin
- Glenn Beck
- Clarence Thomas
- Sean Hanity
- Thomas Sowell
- Bill O'Reilly
- Dinesh D'Sousa
- Matt Drudge
A Tribute to Ronald Reagan
One of our greatest President is Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. He is the embodiment of a great leader and he is a Conservative and he is my hero. Many young people today have little knowledge of history and the great accomplishments of President Reagan. He single handed restored America to greatness in the 1980's. In conversations about politics, you will hear some people say "I am a Reagan Conservative" and few people today knows what that means. I will list some of his accomplishments and let you be the judge. He was known as the Great Communicator. He gave some great inspiring speeches. Unlike some politicians today, he wrote most of his own speeches and did not just read off from a teleprompter. His policies had long lasting effects globally even to this day.
- He gave us the Star Wars missile defense system. (saving thousands of Israeli today).
- He brought down the Iron Curtain between East and West Germany.
- He ended the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union without firing a shot.
- He ended a recession that included double digit inflation rates and brought forth an economic boom that lasted over 20 years.
- He reformed our Tax system
- He took on PATCO, the air traffic controllers union and won.
- He believe in peace through strength (trust but verify).
By no means is Reagan a perfect human being. He had his faults just like any of us. However, on the big issues, he got it right and the US and the world benefited. What else can you ask for?
Groups Pro and Con
It is said that we are defined partly by who we associate with. Here are some list of groups that I support and some I oppose.
- Red Cross
- Catholic Charities
- Veterans group
- Police/Fire Fighters/ EMS
- Right To Life
- United Nations
- Soros Open Society Institute
- Tides Foundation
Who Should Embrace Conservatism?
It is obvious to me that everyone should embrace conservative principles. However, there are a few groups of people that I believe should embrace conservatism for their own good. Here are the groups.
- The millennials - they are being burdened by the huge deficits which must be paid by them in the future for years to come. Check out the National Debt clock in the link section. It is currently over 18 Trillion Dollars.
- Black Americans - some are being trapped in generational entitlements. I believe it is the failed welfare policies that have created a permanent entitlement class and lead to the breakdown of the family.
- New immigrants - want to have a fair shot at the American dream. They are the ones that will benefit from a limited government regulations. They will also benefit from a common sense solution to our immigration policy.
- The poor - believe the government will take care of them (Katrina disaster proofs different). They will learn to be self reliant and not depend on a government that can't help them when real disaster strikes.
I would encourage all to learn their history and learn about civics and how our republic should work. There are many on-line courses. Check out the link below.
We Are a Nation of Immigrants
America is unique. We are a melting pot of immigrants. With each new wave of immigrants, our country is made better and richer and stronger. Have you ever wonder why so many various nationalities have come and succeeded and yet many black citizens seems to be left behind. How is it that an immigrant who can't speak our language, arrive here with little resources and yet after a few short years become successful? What is their secret? Why can't some of our own citizens achieve the same? My personal believe is that our current social policies have stifled the poor and trapped them in a perpetual state of poverty.
I have tried to explain what conservatism is all about. I hope I've made the case. Even if I haven't, I hope you will have a better understanding of where conservatives are coming from. We are not your enemy as some on the left will have you belief. I hope we can have a real debate on the merits of the issues and not demonize each other when we disagree. That is the best way to solve differences.
In 2015, Conservatives do not want to turn back the clock, return to the good old days or keep the status quo. It is counter intuitive but Conservatives wants to change the direction of the country. If our principles and ideas are adopted, it will lead to a dramatic new improved government and I believe lead to new prosperity.
My parting advice to young people is to learn your history and participate in the electoral process. It is the one thing that you can do to effect change.
Some Related Information
- Who’s More Generous, Liberals or Conservatives? | The Fiscal Times
Conservatives give more money to charity than liberals. That's the conventional wisdom, anyway, and at least one new study backs that thinking up.
- U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time
US National Debt Clock : Real Time U.S. National Debt Clock
- Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President
Ahead of Presidents Day 2011, Americans are most likely to say Ronald Reagan was the nation’s greatest president -- slightly ahead of Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton. Reagan, Lincoln, or John F. Kennedy have been at the top of this list.
- Hillsdale College - Hillsdale College
Contains on-line courses to learn civics.
- Modesto Junior College: Students Barred from Distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day - FIRE
- America's most popular voting guide for elections, political issues, candidates, and poll data
iSideWith shows which political parties, candidates, and ballot initiatives you should vote for based on your stances to the most important political issues of
- Recent Government Failures
A growing list of government failures...