Here's a number of conservative thoughts that attempt to portray the illusive and inter-related concepts that define "conservatism." It's more difficult to capture than you might think.
Incidentally, Conservatism is not necessarily "Republican." I tend to support a more libertarian conservatism championed by Ron Paul, who is widely respected but basically ignored. I will also say that the current administration and it's band of misfits best represents the contradictions and fallacies of Leftism.
OK, here goes:
- Decentralize and devolve political power back to the State and Local level . We need a multi-year or multi-decade movement to decentralize and devolve political power back to the State and Local level and away from the Federal level. This Federalism was the true and central intent of ALL of the Founding Fathers, all of their writings and embodied in The Constitution where only a few enumerated powers are reserved to the Federal government. Concentration of power at the Federal level leads to abuse of power, corruption, abuse of personal liberties, undue influence of 'money' in the political system, excessive debt, cartels and crony capitalism.
- States should be the "incubators" of policy within the bounds of the Constitution. It's happening now in matters of gay marriage or unions (until the Supreme Court decided to override The States on gay marriage), decriminalization of marijuana, and even health care reform. I think each state should come up with it's own solutions to problems and policy. Let the 50 states experiment with policy first then the national policy should or could follow. Massachusetts has it's universal healthcare system. Great! Colorado decriminalized marijuana. Great! Vermont legalized gay marriage. Fine with me!
- The concept of limiting Federal power is at the very heart of America's history, our country's philosophical foundation and THE most fundamental feature of Conservatism. By allowing Federal Government to expand we have the NSA scandal, IRS persecutions of citizens, the weaponized EPA, bankers writing Dodd-Frank to protect their privileged 'cartel' status, the drug and health insurance companies writing the rules and getting 'in bed with the government' in the ObamaCare disaster. Big government has bought you the ineffective and hugely expensive TSA, countless "intelligence" spy organizations all focused on spying on the American people in the name of "terrorism". Obviously I could go on and on. Just read today's headlines for more examples of government overreach.
- Reduce the Breadth and Scope of the Federal Government The size, breadth and scope of the Federal government needs serious reduction--not just from a Conservative standpoint---but from a budget standpoint! We can't afford it, the waste and their handouts! Trillion dollar deficits don't cut it -- and they will be back! The Patriot Act should probably be repealed. Many departments of the Government should be either completely eliminated or severely downsized including the Homeland Security, Education, Agriculture, and Energy Departments. Also cut most of the Commerce Dept., get rid of the Housing and Urban Development Department. See my comments below on restraining Entitlements which threaten to swallow the entire Fed. budget.
- Low taxes. Low taxes is a result of restraint of government growth. Remember, there wasn't an income tax until 1913. (Then 5 years later, in 1918, top tax rates were 90% to fund our involvement in WWI) Low taxes allow people to prosper, invest and fund their retirement. Conversely, high taxes feed big government that wastes money, ruins the society, ruins populations (blacks, native Americans) squanders wealth on programs and entire departments that don't work, individuals become dependent on government and their retirement programs, and stifles the economy. Low taxes allow people to get rich enough to take risk, start businesses, invest and fund their own retirement (as opposed to being a ward of the "State"for your retirement security. One day, the government may not have enough money to pay your retirement benefits since it's a pay-as-you-go system). High income taxes is antithetical to a vibrant, active economy. Look at Europe! Try to get a job in high tax France or Britain. Good luck!
- Our Nation's Social Foundations used to be Family, Marriage, Community, Charities and Faith Communities. But growing government and subsequent intrusion in the "charity business" (housing programs, income replacement programs, loan programs, employment and training programs, 'welfare' programs, etc) have hurt our traditional social foundations of family, marriage, community, charities and faith communities. No faceless, anonymous bureaucratic entity can replace these pillars. Now 72% of black children are born to a family without a father. Poverty is again at an all-time high. It didn't use to be that bad. How about that as a sign of social decay? Guess which group is the focus on numerous welfare and social programs designed to "help?" With "help" like that, who needs enemies?! The Left refuses to see that they, in part, caused this. They, in fact, they love to be needed in a sick co-dependency. But it's really all about power, control, and it's all supported by the extortion of other people's money. That extortion gets nice sounding names like "fairness."
- America's success is primarily based in our Religious Faith, and the cultural understanding and legal codification of Judeo-Christian faith and ethical traditions. Faith in people or "government" is no substitute to faith in God as best defined by long-standing world faiths and religious traditions. The Left makes fun of people of faith, but they are the idiots. The Left doesn't believe in anything! They are lost! Without grounding in a religious faith or tradition, liberals are only left with a faith in man or, worse, government institutions.
- Without a faith and grounding in religious faith, the result is cynicism and despair when "man" and his institutions always fail to fulfill and inspire, then fail entirely. An even deeper and more profound failure of liberalism then is the lack of courage. Without faith, there can be no courage. If you don't have a view of what ultimately matters, informed from the great traditions, then you will find yourself adrift in moral relativity, with no convictions and buffeted by the trends and fads of the day.
- Leftists attack and try to discredit the religious faithful. Think about the communists who place themselves at the apex of authority: not God or a "higher power." All communist (Leftist) regimes outlaw religion. It's happening today in China where Christians are actively persecuted. Communists are the extreme end of socialism and leftism.
- Self reliance, Personal responsibility are the foundations of any society. What else?? Personal responsibility and self reliance are the cornerstones of any society, so government should not undermine that even if unintentional.
- Social safety nets ('welfare'and unemployment programs) should have a finite period and therefore end. This would mean that various aid programs like Food stamps, unemployment, and maybe even Medicaid should have a finite period--something like a year. Then, it must end. Otherwise you promote a crippling dependency. Obviously disability programs are different.
- Both Social Security and Medicare were conceived as MUCH more modest and MUCH more limited programs than they've become--both are examples of gov't "mission creep," and politician "vote buying." And they were started in a time of very favorable demographics--plenty of young workers and few beneficiaries. Now entitlements threaten to consume the entire Federal budget in future decades, leaving nothing left for the few "constitutional" functions of government. Just witness the "gnashing of teeth" in response to modest sequester cuts of 'discretional' portions of the budgets--and where entitlements are left untouched and growing.
- Therefore, Medicare/Medicaid programs future benefits must be modified now as the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is dropping fast. Otherwise, these programs consume the entire Federal budget. This train wreck was predictable 30 years ago but the government has failed to manage the inevitable. The Obama administration hasn't done anything and everything is worse under him.
- Leftism represents the "easy way out" in nearly all matters--not because it's the right thing to do but because it buys votes. So what if you're killing fetuses: abortion relieves you of responsibility, accountability. Can't pay your debts? Then liberals want to ease debt burdens (at the expense of others including future generations). Huge corruption in liberal programs are to be tolerated rather than eliminate the program.
- The reality of life is that there are no easy ways out. Everything in life requires hard work. Life is much harder than anyone imagines growing up. Hard work and struggle is the very thing that makes one self-reliant, responsible and principled. There are no short cuts. People are lulled into thinking by politicians that there are shortcuts, until government runs out of money. Government, trying to tame the business cycle has created 2 financial crises from which we are still trying to recover. There will be more and worse crises thanks to relentless "government."
- "Tough love" is real love and is essential for individuals, groups and even nations. People have to learn about life by making mistakes and know the 'sting' of life's lessons. Life is much more difficult than mom ever told you! Government cannot make everything easy for everyone for vote buying purposes! It's NOT their job! Eventually it won't work.
- Leftist elites are jealous of the very people who have prospered based on their own hard work: businessmen and entrepreneurs. Churchill said "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy."
- Free-markets and appropriately regulated free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity. But Capitalism requires failure. Entities that make bad decisions and engage in stupidity, fraud and dangerous finance should be allowed to fail. Failures in Capitalism weeds out the unfit and weak like the law of the jungle. It removes the bad actors. Failures should not be rescued by the corrupt, big government. That's not Capitalism! That's Cronyism!
- Let's recap the greatest political lesson of the last century: Communism and Socialism bring nothing but failure or stagnation: Communism is/was a disaster in every way: totalitarian, human rights, environment, economic. Socialism in a large economy is not much better. Both have led to drab mediocrity, stagnation and even collapse. Why do people want to move toward such political positions when history has spoken so loudly and that the success of the American "experiment" has been so successful? Capitalism has it's crises but these crises historically were allowed to result in enterprise failures that clean out the ineffective and the excessive. Capitalism without failure is not capitalism. The bailouts of 2008 and 2009 didn't allow enough failure; prolonging our current agony of so-called "recovery."
- Socialist European countries have economies the size of US States--some with the population of US cities!--so even socialist governments at that size tends not to be as stifling and inefficient, Socialism can work in a small economy--sort of---if you don't mind stagnation and limited opportunities! I didn't say that it worked well!
- The star economies of Europe are Eastern and Central European countries who have adopted the purest forms of capitalism: low and flat taxes, low regulation, small government. They have embraced a high degree of economic freedom. They are now more Capitalist than America. They are more similar to Singapore and are prospering similarly.
- Balanced budgets States must balance their budgets, why not the Federal budget? A simple Federal law would do it. No Constitutional amendment needed.
- Limit the Federal Reserve to a single mandate of controlling inflation. Get rid of the mandate to maximize employment. The Fed has caused a 98% fall in the value of the dollar and a 28 fold price index inflation since it's inception in 1913. It's failed miserably at controlling inflation. Limit money printing and credit creation using a simple rule of, say, 2% credit growth per year or whatever the non-inflationary growth potential of the economy is. Any emergency liquidity must be "mopped-up" quickly---not easy or free money for 5 years!!
- Sound money: no money printing or monetizing huge government debts!! Wholesale money printing should be banned. Money printing is about weakening your currency often in another "easy way out" and therefore "un-conservative." Sometimes currency wars are necessary when your trading partner is the evil China who have manipulated their currency for decades. Nixon's breaking the Bretton Woods gold standard is a seminal event in world monetary history--and not in a good way!
- Least amount of regulation as possible Remember that only the prosperity of free market capitalism created the wealth that allowed for the cost of environment remediation in the 1960s and 1970s. We found out that Communism was an environmental disaster because there was no real prosperity. We'll see that when China collapses too. The current surge of additional regulation from EPA does not make sense. The upcoming cap and trade crap will be a huge job-killer and won't work. There is no public demand for it and the economy is not good enough--we don't have the money or prosperity to afford it even if it were necessary! It's all based in ideology not from any clamoring from the public. Don't kill the golden goose!
- Re-instate Glass Steagall Get back to a separation of Investment banking from retail banking and low leverage requirements:
- Work rule reform-limit the coercive power of big Unions. Obama's card-check would have promoted coercive unionism. But unionism is killing itself quite well all on it's own. End unionism in all levels of government.
- Free trade as long the other side is playing fair. China has never played fair. The US should have cracked down on Chinese currency manipulation in the 1990s or 2000s and threatened to impose tariffs on unfair imports. It would have resulted in some kind of negotiated settlement that would have likely helped.
- Abortions should NOT be easy to get
- Get money out of politics. Finance national campaigns with Federal money. Ban lobbying money and any contributions to politicians. Ban any contributions more than about $100?
- Military strength and preparedness causes peace. Reagan was so right about "peace through strength." The movie "Argo" focused on a group of 5 hostages in Iran being rescued in 1979. But the real 'award winning' story, that the Left will never tell, is how ALL of the remaining hostages were released on the day of Reagan's inauguration. No world leader doubted Reagan's resolve and convictions. Reagan later essentially ended the Cold War. On the other hand, weakness engenders wars. (This does not mean that the defense budget is not currently bloated and could be cut substantially by the way.) The Left never understands this or ignores it to spend money on their socialistic programs. You want proof, just look at the pitiful defense budgets gutted by the Socialists in Europe.
With no courage because of no real faith, liberals never have the conviction that sometimes things are worth fighting for. They become master appeasers that brings war! They rarely understand the doctrine of "peace though strength." Leftism both here and abroad, over time, de-fund military strength to fund the welfare state or their central planning agenda. European countries today have very small militaries and would be unable to fight a war. But that's ok because liberals never believe in anything strong enough to fight for it! And they denigrate those people who have principles and values.
- Obama is the Ultimate Example of the failure of affirmative action. Obama coasted along his entire life on a wave of affirmative action money; promoted without real achievements, without real merit, without having had to "work" at a real job. Being a somewhat bright black man has been his "ticket." Praise, from liberal elites and institutions, has come without any exceptional effort (apparently, since all of his academic records are sealed, his record must be quite mediocre). Then, suddenly, a 1/2 term Senator with no distinguished legislative record, no career or work history and a sealed academic record, surfs a liberal affirmative action "wave" into the White House. It's the culmination of a liberal dream: a black man in the White House, promoted by and indoctrinated in leftist "values" and the "compromised" standards of affirmative action, all to "prove" that black men are equal (but don't look too close at standardized test results and academic performance).
What kind of result would you expect? The answer is: the same results from other affirmative action programs: Mediocrity. You can call me racist, but Obama is incompetent and is hurting millions of people who need jobs in this country-- hurting blacks the worst.
- Leftists are more often ruled with their heart (or right brain?) and not their head. The expression "bleeding heart Liberal" has a factual basis! Witness the nearly hysterical debate about gun control in the wake of several massacres. They are willing to violate the Constitution to take away ALL guns (as they did in the UK to no notable effect), despite the fact that mentally unbalanced or insane people got this weapons outside of the law --any law. The rush to be seen to be doing something seems to be the most important thing regardless that the prescriptions will do nothing to stop gun violence. But the Constitution just keeps getting in the way of the liberal agenda.