Why I'm a Conservative
I generally attempt to keep the perspective that politics has only to do with this earthly realm... the here and now. As a Christian, I truly believe that the really important things have to do with eternity... with the business of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, I do wish to make a few comments on this day to day, earthly existence, because we do have to live within it.
I believe that you can really boil our political situation down to this: You are either a liberal or a conservative. Yes, I know that there are all sorts of degrees on either side of the divide, and I'm also aware that many will distinguish between the social and the economic aspects. I believe that the social aspect is much more important than the economic, though I would hold that there are many areas of overlap between the two... as will be explained below. In this essay I wish to explain why I am convinced that the conservative view is not only superior to that known as the liberal view, but that the liberal view, taken to it's logical conclusions, is dishonest and felonious.
There are no quick or easy definitions to "conservative" and "liberal", but I will lay out as simply as I can how I see the differences. As I see it, liberalism believes, in the social arena, in a "live and let live" philosophy. If it feels good, do it. There are few or no moral absolutes. In the economic arena, liberalism seems to accept a view that people of few economic resources have some sort of claim upon the economic resources of those who have more. In many cases, this leads to an acceptance of a belief in forced redistribution of wealth, usually by governmental coercion. In this sense, and taken to the logical extreme, it agrees in varying degrees with Marxism, which theory diminishes the individual in favor of what the Marxist would call the proletariat. Liberalism believes that fairness dictates that it is wrong for anyone to be at an economic disadvantage, and therefore that the state should produce a forced equality by a redistribution of wealth. Now, I would be the first to admit that, in American political theory, not all who are called liberals are Marxists, but I would add that if they are not, they have failed to take liberalism to its fair and necessary conclusion.
Let me provide a personal example of economic liberalism. I work with a fellow named Henry Fofang, who is an immigrant from a country in sub-Saharan Africa. During the campaign leading up to the 2000 presidential election, he told me that he favored Al Gore, the democratic candidate, because he felt that Gore would "take money from the rich and give it to us poor people." Though I do not believe that Gore is quite that far down the road towards Marxism, Henry certainly holds out hope that Al Gore would move the United States towards that Marxist goal of a redistribution of wealth. Though I do not know if Henry is a full fledged Marxist, he certainly holds, at least, to this tenant of Marxism. In that conversation, I revealed my conservative leanings to Henry by telling him that I do not believe in governmental theft. Liberalism, as evidenced most vividly in the 2000 presidential campaign, preaches what amounts to class warfare, pitting those whom they call "the rich" against what they call "working men and women". How they are able to imply that those with lots of economic resources (wealth) are to be necessarily excluded from "working men and women" continues to amaze me. In America, liberals also live off of race divisions...they are quick to play the race card. Why? This is their way of gaining votes. They realize that currently most people of minority status in the United States (usually Blacks and Hispanics) are disproportionately represented in the middle and lower income brackets. They use this to gain votes by making statements leading many in these minority groups to believe that the quick way out of their economically lower standing is to have government systematically take from those in the higher income brackets and "give it to the poor." It is a shameful practice, but one that certainly does work.
Conservatives generally believe that the best way to encourage wealth is to bolster those governmental policies which encourage and allow for success in the market place. Conservatives do not believe in a forced redistribution of wealth from "the rich" to "the poor." Rather, conservatives believe in making sure that there are few or no unreasonable hindrances to attaining wealth, and this is born out by the conservative view that government is usually NOT the answer for lower income people. Conservatives believe in working hard and being competitive in the market place. Liberals might counter that they believe the same, but I am convinced that many of them only believe it to a certain point, as evidenced by their stands on public policy issues. This will be commented on later in other articles.
A very good example of the
difference between Conservatives and Liberals is provided by their views on
the right to gun ownership in the United States. To set the stage, the right
to ownership of guns is guaranteed by the Second Article (popularly known
as the Second Amendment) of the Constitution of the United States of America,
which reads thus:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There are some out there who will qualify the meaning of this amendment by their definition of the word militia, saying that the militia refers only to the military, but one only need look at the Federalist Papers to see what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote this second amendment.
From Federalist #4, written by John Jay, we read:
The people of America are aware that inducements to war may arise out of these circumstances, as well as from others not so obvious at present, and that whenever such inducements may find fit time and opportunity for operation, pretenses to color and justify them will not be wanting. Wisely, therefore, do they consider union and a good national government as necessary to put and keep them in SUCH A SITUATION as, instead of INVITING war, will tend to repress and discourage it. That situation consists in the best possible state of defense, and necessarily depends on the government, the arms, and the resources of the country.
From Federalist # 28, Alexander Hamilton discusses the need for the people to have access to arms:
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo. The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will it be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their preparations and movements, and the military force in the possession of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against the part where the opposition has begun. In this situation there must be a peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure success to the popular resistance.
From Federalist # 29, Hamilton distinguishes between "militia" (i.e. the people), and a standing army:
But though the scheme of
disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable;
yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should,
as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia.
The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation
of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit
them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be
possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the
field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only
lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at
any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can
never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body
of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of
arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.
This appears to me the only substitute that can be
devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.
This should make it abundantly clear that, when the framers of the Constitution wrote the Second Amendment, they were upholding the view that individual citizens have the right to KEEP and BEAR arms. Most conservatives share this view, while many, if not most, liberals reject and despise this view. They would have you believe that the keeping and bearing of arms is strictly reserved to military and police forces... in other words, agencies of the government. Liberals know, though, that a direct assault upon the Second Amendment is not a wise approach, so they instead seek what they want through gun legislation, whereby they can chip away at our Second Amendment rights in bits and pieces, as if we would not notice. In fact, many in our country have not noticed, or else just don't care. But many more have noticed what they are attempting to do, and are offerring resistance. Let there be no doubt about it... what the liberals who favor "gun legislation" really are working for is the complete disarming of citizens, and therefore a removal of our Second Amendment rights. Many conservatives, like myself, will fight them tooth and nail in order to stop them in their tracks. We conservatives are just as appalled at violence with firearms as are the liberals, but we also know that taking guns away from law abiding citizens is not the proper answer. Law abiding citizens are not the problem... criminals are, and we have a multitude of laws prohibiting the unlawful use of firearms. Enforcement of these laws is the answer... not the disarming of lawful citizens in violation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution.