I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
And it is by that lamp that I judge our future: the future of America.
I want to grant fair warning. I am in a nasty mood. I’ve grown impatient with my “conservative” friends, and it is time to push them up against the wall. To make them define and defend what they believe. What’s more, I’ve lost all patience with the “conservatives” asserting they are closest to our founding fathers in their political philosophy than any other ideology in America today. I intend to demonstrate this if far from accurate, and – in so doing – revealing to my “conservative” friends just how little they know about what our founders believed. But, to be fair again, I will confess that I once believed as they, and even considered myself to be “conservative” – until I took it upon myself to research what that actually means. Now that I know, I reject the term because I understand it is the flip side of the same coin as the progressives.
It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.
So, do you agree with Henry? Do you want to know the truth? I do.
Now, I want to start by asking my “conservative” friends a few questions. Do you know and understand that the GOP is the founding Party of the American Progressive movement? Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt started that cancerous movement? Did you know that many of the Republican leaders from that time are the forefathers of the people Limbaugh now calls “blue bloods?” So why is it that – until Glenn Beck started to educate America about all of this – Rush never once explained any of this to you? Heck, he still hasn’t. He goes out of his way to avoid the term Progressive, yet it has a very clear and specific meaning. Progressivism is at the root of everything “conservatives” claim to be fighting. So why do “conservatives” avoid the issue of Progressivism? Why is it that the only real voice on this issue on modern America comes from a man who is moving ever more in the direction of Libertarianism? Could it be he has come to understand something “conservatives” are ignorant about, or worse, deliberately hide from? Apparently, “conservatives” don’t know their history any better than the Left does.
Next, why do “conservatives” resist a third Party movement when the GOP has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not embrace their agenda? Why do conservatives insist on demanding that we stay with the GOP when the GOP openly declares war against them? And why do “conservatives” continue to accept the same old lies from the Republican leadership that they have been fed since Bush Sr took office, if not before that? Do conservatives even understand the words of Patrick Henry? Surely they understand, because they are always attacking the Left for trying to do things that have been proven not to work. Raising taxes harms the economy. Socialism is a failed ideology. Welfare breeds dependency. All of these are based on past experience. But let the “conservatives” latest star tell them he has a plan to seal the borders, then grant amnesty because “it’s the practical thing to do” and the “conservatives” fall for it – even though the last several times this was tried have all resulted in a steady march Left in our immigration policy. Apparently, “conservatives” don’t learn from history any better than the Left does.
Now here’s another argument I hear a lot. “Conservatives” argue that the only way to advance their agenda is to win elections, and the best way to win elections is through political Parties. So, Parties equal power. Congratulations, “conservatives,” you just made the community organizer’s case for them. I expect I will never hear any of you criticizing Obama for being a community organizer again. And for that matter, I shouldn’t eve hear any of you attacking Saul Alinsky, either – or Machiavelli. It doesn’t matter that they advocate “the ends justify the means,” so do you. After all, “conservatives” are always making the case that the GOP’s leaders have to “compromise” to get anything done. But I ask you, did the “conservatives” forget Patrick Henry again? Because, last time I looked, the conservatives haven’t made a move to the right since maybe Ronald Reagan. At best, they slowed the march to the Left under Gingrich, and then, only for a few years. Republican compromise has been nothing but a steady march to the Left my entire life, and now, “conservatives” are ready to let the Left hold the football for them to kick one more time. Fools!
Now, “conservatives,” let’s look at some other aspects of your “founders’ philosophy.” You guys believe that large corporations represent the free market. They don’t! What’s more, the founders prohibited corporations. “Conservatives” defend them as “people.” People! That is a violation of natural law! The founders compromised, but not on natural law. That was the common ground upon which they were able to come together, but today, conservatives defend violations of natural law all the time. And why shouldn’t they? After all, the political founder of the modern conservative movement, Edmund Burke, argued that corporations had the legal right to but the power to “dispose of” the lives and property of as much as 1/3 of the world’s population, and even to raise their own standing army. Yes, “conservatives,” the founder of your ideology argued that on the floor of Parliament. Did you know that?
I continue. “Conservatives” argue that they believe in private property rights, and that this is in keeping with the founders. They use this to defend their claim to private ownership of large conglomerates, and they attack the notion that society has just authority to legislate those corporations as an attack on private property. Well, once again, “conservatives” prove they are in opposition to what our founders believed about corporate property, or even excess wealth:
“All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”
–Benjamin Franklin, letter to Robert Morris, 25 December 1783, Ref: Franklin Collected Works, Lemay, ed., 1
“A right of property in moveable things is admitted before the establishment of government. A separate property in lands, not till after that establishment. The right to moveables is acknowledged by all the hordes of Indians surrounding us. Yet by no one of them has a separate property in lands been yielded to individuals. He who plants a field keeps possession till he has gathered the produce, after which one has as good a right as another to occupy it. Government must be established and laws provided, before lands can be separately appropriated, and their owner protected in his possession. Till then, the property is in the body of the nation, and they, or their chief as trustee, must grant them to individuals, and determine the conditions of the grant.”
–Thomas Jefferson: Batture at New Orleans, 1812. ME 18:45
Now, my “conservative” friends, how do you square those words against your assertion that your giant corporations and personal wealth are off limits to society, and that the founders would have agreed? Right there, two of the most influential of our founding fathers are telling you the exact opposite.
“Conservative” support for programs such as DUI checks are a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. If the founder’s would have agreed with such actions, why did they bother to write the 4th Amendment? “Conservatives” claim that taxing the rich at a higher rate than the poor is contrary to our founding ideology, but I can cite Jefferson actually advocating this exact policy: taxing the rich more than the poor. “Conservatives” are great supporters of standing armies, and of a global military presence, yet the abuses that come from these things were chief on our founders’ reasons for opposing the British. I could go on, but I trust that – by now – you’re getting the idea.
So, what is the answer? The answer is simple. If “conservatives” mean it when they say they support the individual, then stop supporting collectivist approaches to your problems. Solve them as individuals – like our founders hoped we would. You have an individual duty to society. Carry it out. That means you don’t not think of yourself first, but of your family, then your community, then your state and, finally, your nation. It means you raise your family to do the same. It means you learn and you teach your children about the principles of individual rights and liberty. It means you defend them: both for yourself, and for your neighbor – even when you disagree with how he or she exercises them. And it means you support the public morality. Oh, yes, that is actually something “conservatives” get right. The founders did indeed believe that society had the right to legislate the public morality. Read the court records and you’ll see.
And so I’ll close with one last quote from Henry, a quote I think sums up everything we need to know and do to find our way back from the edge of the abyss into which we now stare:
Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of freemen. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.