Skip to comments.Unified Theory of Conservatism: Constitutional Ethics for a Small Government
Posted on 01/09/2012 8:29:48 PM PST by hocndoc
There's no conflict between the three legs of Conservatism, in spite of the confusion surrounding contraception and homosexual rights we witnessed during the New Hampshire debates. Social issues such as the right to life and traditional marriage are equally compatible with small government and States' rights as National security and fiscal responsibility, just as the Declaration of Independence is compatible with the10th Amendment to the US Constitution. Conservatives agree that the best government governs least, but we don't forget that there is a proper role for even the Federal government.
After all, the Constitution is based on the existence of inalienable rights endowed by our Creator as outlined in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights explains the States' desire to ensure Constitutional limits on the Federal Government, using the least force and intervention possible to prevent or punish the infringement of our inalienable rights.
Liberals and Libertarians accuse Conservatives who advocate for social issues and national security of abandoning both the Constitution and the ideal of a small Federal government that is as inconsequential in our lives as possible. There are even some in the Tea Party willing to sacrifice these issues in order to form a coalition with the Libertarians to cut spending and lower taxes.
Unfortunately, the Left, Right and middle all manage to stir up not only the divide between Libertarians and Conservatives. They would also exaggerate conflict between socially conservative Catholics and Evangelicals who agree on the definition of marriage and that life begins at conception, but disagree on whether or not true contraception is ethical.
Abortion, medicine and research which result in the destruction of embryos or fetuses infringe on the right to life by causing the death of a human being. (See Why Ethics.) In contrast, true contraception prevents conception without endangering any human life. Therefore, unlike abortion, it does not infringe the right to life.
Marriage as a public institution is not merely a means to insurance and legal benefits. The definition of marriage predates the Constitution and goes far beyond culture, religion or National boundaries. Marriage affects the stability of the family and the well-being of both children and the husband and wife. (Theres strong research supporting the latter.) We define and defend traditional marriage in order to secure liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
These same inalienable rights are the justification for establishing National borders, protecting National security, and punishing those who break the law, while opposing high taxes and big Government bureaucracy and regulation that serves to not only redistribute wealth, but creates a dependency on more and bigger Government intervention.
Conservatives like Governor Rick Perry have been just as vocal in opposing the attacks on religious freedom and conscience by the Obama Administration as we have been in opposing increased taxes and regulations and the EPAs over-reaching. We can stand secure in our understanding that the Conservative, Constitutional and proper use of government is to prevent and punish infringement of inalienable rights.
In light of the divisions on this Board, food for thought.
Did I do right?
There is a distinct lack of stones between two of those legs in the Conservative branch (whithered and sickly as it is) of the Republican party.
Either Wickard v Filburn is a constitutional atrocity and everything based on it is an usurpation and abuse of power, or the drug war is a legitimate exercise of the the Commerce power.
I don't see any other alternative. You can't have a national government that opertates within the scope of it's enumerated powers according to the original intent of the Constitution and also have agencies like the DEA operating on nothing more than a claim of "finding a substantial effect on interstate commerce". Clarence Thomas gets it. How do we get everyone reading off of that page?
Since the recreational use of drugs tends toward the “pursuit of happiness,” what business does the federal government have in regulating the same?
Oops! Just knocked that ol’ lid off the can of worms again. Sorry. Hey. Maybe I’m not happy unless I can wield power over other people.
I smell trouble.
How true. We're subjects of entertainment, food, and wealth who count on government to keep it all rolling in. The purpose and limits of government could stand a good overhaul these days.
That’s a State issue, in both my opinion and in Governor Perry’s. From “Fed Up!”:
“The statists believe in a powerful, activist central government that advances a radical secular agenda in the name of compassion. They hide behind misguided notions of empathy and push token talking points about fighting for the little guy, all the while empowering the federal government to coercively and blatantly undermine state-, local-, and self-governance.” p.13
“So, do states matter? The Founders clearly thought so. The Constitution guaranteed a federal government of enumerated powers while leaving states with governments of residual and plenary power. States have the prerogative to legislate on any topic public health, morals and so forth while the new federal government was designed to be of limited functions.” p. 22
Perry, Rick. Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
If a drug is processed and transported across National borders and/or State lines there might be a Federal issue. Otherwise, see post 9, above.
Understood. But it’s going to be hard to say that’s a “unified theory” if half the people you encounter that call themselves “conservative” disagree with it.
If there was a bill in the US Congress to ban same sex marriage, what would be the conservative position?
One outcome satisfies the social aspect. One satisfies the limited government aspect.
My position is that you can’t ban something that doesn’t exist.
There is no such thing as “gay marriage”. Any law purporting to create it is a bogus law (and an attempt to create something in law that doesn’t exist in fact).
Banning something that doesn’t exist is pointless. Trying to force people to recognize something that doesn’t exist using the law is an abuse of power.
This is a great thread! Thanks you so much for helping us focus on our main goals.
For example, the MSM wants to divert our attention by asking Conservatives what their position is on every topic on Earth.
What does the topic of Global Warming have to do with anything but junk science? The MSM loves the distraction, because is has nothing to do with Conserving what little is left of our Constitution.
Threads such as this help us to focus on the most important aspects of being a Conservative.
I’m trying to explain to those who disagree.
Talk about a true Statist position: forcing Texas to accept what we don’t recognize as “marriage” would be real big government, especially when we see how “consequential” the recognition has become in some States. Churches, charities, private businesses have all been forced to act based on laws that redefine marriage.
If the States were required to recognize “same sex marriage” ok’d by another State, then it would be a Federal issue, right?
Unfortunately, the Federal courts may make it necessary for us to pass the DOMA as an Amendment.
If an Amendment passes under the Constitutional guidelines, then it’s Constitutional (even if it’s not moral or ethical).
The MSM wants to embarrass us and make us go away like we’ve done it in the past.
I guess I didn’t emphasize enough that I’m drawing on the the Reagan coalition definition that Conservatives built on social issues, national security and fiscal responsibility.
That should be “embarrass and divide us.”
Gov. Rick Perry has lived and governed with conservatism and he has the will and the drive (in spades as we are witnessing) to keep working for conservative principles. And he understands the urgency of this election.
Rick Perry wouldn’t be a placeholder, a nibble around the edges — work with “my friends” in the “loyal opposition” president, at the expense of the country. He is the outsider. He isn’t K Street or Washington D.C. But Perry knows what they’ve done to our freedoms.
And he is the only candidate who has a record the Left will find difficult using against him (not that they won’t try but better than getting knocked out in the third round like the others). Thus the MSM (and sad to say conservatives) attempt to portray him as dumb (haven’t we seen this before?) drunk, racist, Islamofascist sympathizer or anti-Muslim bigot, spoiler, etc. etc. etc. They have to attack his character and ridicule him to marginalize him and his record. The record Obama and the Left don’t want to face in an election contest.
Texas is where 1000 people a day are moving to find work. And I really am annoyed that I have to clarify this for the reader, they’re coming from other U.S. states (where their governors aren’t working so hard to fight the Obama recession) and not from Mexico. But since that is the MSM “talking point,” I must.
Thank you hocndoc.
Yes, if he “reaches out,” much less “crosses over,” to the other side of the aisle, it’ll be in a leap over the brass rail. Just ask Senator Lucio.
I still say the Press just doesn’t want to spend weekends in Paint Creek.
Okay. I'm drawing on a more "classical" definition, a conservative being someone who wants to "conserve" or leave a politcal system unchanged. You can be socially conservative, fiscally responsible, and for a strong national defense, and still think the Commerce Clause is an open ended grant of power to control anything you do that could conceivably result in your buying or selling something that could possibly have crossed a state line some time during it's existence.
When asked what they had given us, Ben Frankline said "A republic, if you can keep it!". That kind of power in DC is incompatible with a having a republic. As Rush likes to say "Words mean things." I don't see how we can be "conservative" if we can't even conserve the republic.
IMO you are caught in the trap of ethno-centrism. i.e. you refuse /or seem incapable of understanding the term used (pursuit of happiness) in the profane and modern sense and ignore its original meaning—oops— just knocked the old lid off that can of worms again—Sorry.
Isn’t it easily explained by stating that ‘the pursuit of happiness’s was tied with virtue?
O thou seer of man’s understanding and intent, at least do us the favor of expounding on original intent as it applies to the words, “pursuit of happiness.” Obviously it means more than the shallow pursuit of self-gratification. On the other hand, I would not go so far as to suggest it completely rules out the right for an individual to use substances that lighten the burdens of every day life, or increase industry.
Bear in mind that the term “the pursuit of happiness” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Finding the original intent and meaning of the phrase as used in the DoI may be instructive, but it’s not part of the Constitution.
Or how about this explanation from the Governor’S “Fed Up!” (he made similar statements in “On My Honor,” personal appearances and at least one radio interview that I heard, so I’m convinced that he understands what he is saying):
pp 19-20 This is the essence of liberty in America. Through freedom and mutual respect, each of us is free to pursue our dreams and to become the best versions of our selves, together creating a community of people reaching their highest God-given potential.
Page 20 And the idea that government exist to serve the will of the people further individual freedom rather than the appetites of rulers is what made the American System unique and attractive to people around the globe.
Now, some claim that there can be too much liberty or that people cannot be trusted if they have too much freedom. I do not believe that is true. The kind of liberty we construe as harmful is not really liberty but rather license. And license serves only the selfish appetite at the expense of others. Liberty is a God-given virtue; license is a destructive vice fomented by the forces of evil. If liberty were to include the freedom to harm others, then of course that would be too much of it. But with libertys essence is recognition of the inherent value of other human beings. This rightful liberty is the blessing that our federal system of government was established to preserve and protect. Liberty is our birthright as Americans. It exists within moral boundaries that protect the rights of others.”
Let us examine Ronald Reagan a bit:
1.) He was a Democrat who changed over to the Republican Party. He once said: “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, it left me!”
2.) As Governor of California, he raised the State income taxes.
3.) As President, he was a BIG spender, and added significantly to our National Debt. He once said: “Deficits don’t matter.” This quote was later repeated by another BIG spender, GWB.
4.) “The Big Tent” Republican Party idea grew under Reagan’s tenure, winning elections at the cost of causing the Ship of State to drift with the strongest PC wind of the Court of Public Opinion, from then to now.
5.) Reagan trusted the Democrats in Congress to do what they promised to do with alien illegal entry on our southern border.
It is all well and good to carve out new ideas for past deeds, but let us be honest about the source of flaws that will doom our efforts to repeating the same mistakes that were made in the past. Reality knows no loyalty to anyone.
Reagan was one of our greatest Presidents, but we now have to correct the errors made by him and all the other Presidents. We cannot do that by being everything to everybody. We must clearly define our limited goals, and not be distracted.
BTW, it pains me to say it, but President Harry Truman said it best: “Those who cannot learn from the lessons of History are doomed to repeat them.”
I think we can agree. but I admit I have not seen the TV series.”Adams” It is my understanding that pursuit of happiness was originally relative to obeying Gods’ will.Much was tied to the principles Religion, Morality,and Knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind,schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Article III Northwest Ordinance. I seem to recall John Eidsmoe speaking of how Jefferson changed “life, Liberty, and Property, from a European Enlightenment source to the much maligned Life Liberty and pursuit of happiness.
but need to revisit Eidsmoe.
People need to re-discover Calvin Coolidge and what resulted with true small government, massive reductions in govt and spending...to the tune of 80% cuts in government, taxes...etc...
What resulted? The roaring 20’s along with many major inventions that changed our country.
President Calvin Coolidge once said: “The business of America is Business.”
To our peril, we have strayed far from Calvin’s quote.
The man is not the focus, the idea is.
Our conservative coalition was formed under the guidance of Ronald Reagan, and became known as “Reagan conservatism” with those three factions coming together in recognition of the common goal to oppose socialism and its infringement of our rights.
Cutting government spending results in cuts in government power and influence that infringe on our rights - and vice versa. That’s why Governor Perry has promised to cut the bureaucracies under the Executive Branch.
For another read on my idea of conservatism, read the first few pages of Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny” available on Amazon
I love the 45 days every other year. Btw I love gridlock in dc it protects our freedom.
It’s only 140 days every 2 years - that’s enough, for sure. Except when the Dems run away or filibuster the budget - required by Constitution.
And I blush . . .
Thank You for a correct outlining of conservatism.
We have lost the ability to actually study and understand what we really stand for in elections. People are drug around like a goat with a leash on by the media. AND the establishment.
Good job Dr.
Thank you for your kind words!
A bump to to the top - especially in light of last night’s speeches and yesterday’s “vultures.”
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