Rather than finishing (by finishing I mean starting) my essay on Middle Eastern "democracy" I thought I would muse a bit on US democracy. In particular, on what a Conservative actually should be.
First and fore most you must understand this equation: Republican does not equal Conservative (is there a key stroke for the “not equal” symbol?). Of course conservatives vote republican because it is just barely better than voting democrat. It however is a very unfulfilling exercise that leaves you feeling rather dirty.
So at this moment readers should clear their minds of preconceived notions based on what republicans have said and done. One is an ideology and the other is a political party. One is a way of life and the other is a way to get elected. One is inerrant the other is a steamy heap.
Yes, conservatism is inerrant. It is axiomatic. It is a heuristic. It is truth. All other ideologies are either incorporated in conservatism or are counter to it. It is the I Ching. The sum of all knowledge. Much liberalism is in fact unrealized conservatism. In other words liberals have not moved beyond their incomplete assumptions. If they were to move beyond these half truths they would realize that they are in fact conservatives.
Let's start with the name. - C O N S E R V A T I V E - What exactly are we conserving? Everything. From the environment to your own money to democracy. Making sure that there is enough left for future generations to enjoy. This suggests an end game. This suggests that resources are not infinite. This suggests that actions matter and that there is no panacea to correct the folly of excess. We can not slow the count down to zero but we can refrain from speeding it up.
Those that are not conservatives either don't believe this or do believe and have chosen to ride the gravy train until their time is done and to hell with those that come after. The latter of course is the most disturbing.
To illustrate conservatism I will use three domestic issues that never go away: Abortion, Taxes and Security.
Surprise number one. Abortion should be legal.
So what are we trying to conserve here? Human life? Order? Rights?
A conservative view would demonstrate that we are trying to conserve RIGHTS which in turn conserves human life.
First the connection of rights and life. Without getting off a complicated tangent, suffice it to say that we as a country are founded, and quite literally survive, on the recognition and protection of individual rights. Nothing is more important than this principle. Rights are the cornerstone of everything else that we are. We are a nation of men second and a nation of laws that protect rights first. As such, we recognize that a utilitarian calculus of the greater good predicates that the good of the many must take precedent over the few* and that the good of the many is best served by protecting individual rights.
Rights are vested in others who are charged with our protection. We vest rights in those in a position to make the soundest judgment. Our rights as a minor are vested in our parents first and others second. Here is the crux of the debate. Who has the right to exercise these rights in the extreme? The parents have the primary responsibility. Even more primary than parents is the mother when we are talking about an unborn child.
From here we move to a question of viability. Not the traditional question of the viability of the life of the child, but rather the viability of the rights of the child. In our society rights are slowly returned to the child as it grows. At 18 we are more-or-less fully vested with our own rights. Until that time our rights are held and exercised by our parents and the government. At 18 our parents are no longer able to exercise any rights. As an unborn child our parents hold all of our rights, even the right to exist.
The right to life has always been held by the government. Through war, conscription and the death penalty we give the right of our life to the government. An unborn child's right to life is given first to the mother. This is a prima facie rights relationship because the life of the child is dependent on the life of the mother. The two can not for an appreciable duration of the pregnancy be separated without the death of the child. If, however, the life of the mother is at stake and we must chose between the life of the child or of the mother we as a society chose the mother. The life that is certain. The life that is established. Who is best suited to make this judgment? Not a recommendation. That would come from a doctor after a diagnosis. I mean the judgment of the life or death of the child. Only the mother who has the prima facie rights relationship with the child.
As a conservative we must conserve the rights of the mother in order to conserve her life. Some would say that we should then only allow abortions in these cases of life or death. That would remove the rights from the mother and give them to the government. This is a slippery slope. Conservatives recognize that governments rarely give us our rights back to exercise once they are taken. So giving up these rights to the government could lead to the next arresting of rights and then to the next which history has shown imperials us all. Since nature and God has seen to it that for a time the life of the child is tied to the life of the mother and since we know that government arresting of rights should be done conservatively it is only fair that abortion be safe and legal.
*the good of the viable and established must take precedent over the good of the questionable and unestablished. This is an awesome responsibility and to treat it as anything else is reprehensible.
Conservatives do not view the laws of economics as a "risky scheme" or conservative propaganda. We view them as common sense. Redistribution of wealth is mandatory in a functioning society. But it must be done conservatively. Under redistribute wealth and access and opportunity are squelched. Over redistribute and innovation and productivity are punished. Conservatives error on the side of this maxim: "No one never got a job from a poor man." We must help the poor man to become someone who one day will employ others. But we must not make another man poor in the process.
We must also never forget that tax is the process of arresting personal property by penalty of imprisonment. It is not the government's money. It is your money or the people’s money. We must conserve the vigor in which the bureaucracy arrests the wealth. And, we must also conserve the need for arrest and redistribution.
Private efforts that accomplish better and more efficiently what the government attempts to accomplish with social entitlement programs should be a viable alternative. Common defense, common education and (a true conservative would invite a discussion) common health care are all examples of how the pooling of wealth is necessary. The military industrial complex, poor public school performance, and a broken public health system are examples of the failure of the bureaucracy.
It is not the giving of wealth that fixes problems it is the conservative giving of wealth with the demand that that wealth be used effectively and efficiently that fixes problems. It is the recognition that over taxation leads to over spending and that the inefficiency of the bureaucracy can be counted on like the sun each day. In other words forced accountability through a scarcity of funds, making less go further. When are you more efficient? When you have less money? Or more?
Conservatives realize that the appearance of strength and fairness provide security and that the enemy of security is disorder. Traditional realist views allow for the strength part of this pair but not the fairness. The appearance of fairness must be preserved to ensure an uninterrupted flow of goods, services and information in today’s interconnected world. Therefore we are working to conserve our strength and maximize our fairness. Over emphasizing strength causes disorder which in turn threatens security. Tempering our strength with fairness allows the