Nemo me impune lacessit

No one provokes me with impunity


No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Article 1, Section 9, Constitution of the United States

If this is the law of the land...why in a republic (little r) and as republicans, do we allow mere POLITICIANS to the right to use a "title of office" for the rest of their lives as if it were de facto a patent of nobility. Because, as republicans, this should NOT be the case...just saying...

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bent Out Of Shape, Conservative And Proud To Be One

By J P Bender,
reprinted with the express written permission,

Recently Paul Schroeder, a fellow writer on SearchWarp, wrote an article titled, Liberal and Proud To Be One. In my opinion, Paul is a good writer and after reading his article, I left him some feedback (writers like to get feedback).

I wrote him, "Paul - a good article and an interesting read on Liberalism - I was not aware that all Conservatives were Christian fundamentalists (he wrote that in his article).

Paul responded, "Very true but all Christian fundamentalists ARE Conservative!"

Well that very statement needed some retort, so I responded, "Paul – that's an interesting statement –sort of reminds me of the statements made by the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, when he conducted the witch-hunts to ferret out Communists in America. He said at the hearings, of the House of Un-American Activities, " Not all liberal Democrats are Communists, but all Communists are liberal Democrats."

I like the literary standpoint of Paul's article but I disagree with the contents, so I decided to take the liberty of writing my own article as a counter-point. It will not only differ in style but in content.

I would like to point out at the onset of this article that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat; I am a conservative. I realized that I was a conservative ever since I attended a meeting of the John Birch Society while in college. Ever since its founding in 1958 by Robert Welch, the John Birch Society has been dedicated to restoring and preserving freedom under the United States Constitution.

Conservatism in the United States includes a variety of political ideologies including fiscal, supply-side economics, social, libertaian, bioconservatism, traditionalist and religious, as well as support for a strong military. Modern American conservatism was largely born out of alliance between classical liberals and social conservatives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, L. Brent Bozell and William F. Buckley, come to mind as the important American conservatives.

President Reagan was widely seen as a symbol of American conservatism, and during an interview he said, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.

Organizations in the US committed to promoting conservative ideology include the American Conservative Union, Eagle Forum, the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution. US-based media outlets that are conservative include Human Events, The National Review, The American Conservative, Policy Review and the Weekly Standard. Over the years, I have contributed opinions and articles to some of these entities.

In the US, social conservatives emphasize traditional views of social units such as the family, church or locale. Social conservatism may entail defining marriage as relationships between one man and one woman (thereby prohibiting same-sex marrige and polygamy) along with laws placing restrictions on the practice of abortion.

While many religious conservatives believe that government should have a role in defending moral values, libertarian conservatives such as Barry Goldwater advocated a hands-off government where social values were concerned.

Originally, Edmund Burke advocated an ideology of caution in departing from the historical roots of a society, or changing its inherited traditions and institutions. In this ‘organic' form, it included allegiance to tradition, community, hierarchies of rank, benevolent paternalism, and properly subservient under-classes.

By contrast, conservatism can be taken to imply a laissez-faire ideology of untrammeled individualism, which puts the emphasis on personal responsibility, free markets, law and order, and a minimal role for government, with neither community, nor tradition, nor benevolence entering more than marginally. In today's society, the two strands are not easy to reconcile, either in theory or in practice.

In the last few decades, the rise of extremism as a coup for power has relegated politics to the level of trench warfare. It views everything from a strategic viewpoint, dehumanizing the opposition with a barrage of propaganda. A democracy only functions properly when truth and civility are maintained. While tension and disagreement is to be expected, the narrow-minded trench warfare we see today is hostile to everything we believe in.

Liberals have been painted as bleeding hearts whose only purpose is to tax and spend. Conservatives have been charged with bigotry and being in the pocket of big business.

These tiresome, manipulative mantras have been repeated so many times, and with such venom, that they actually distort the real definitions of conservative and liberal - to the detriment of both, and to the betrayal of the people whose welfare and integrity democracy is supposed to maintain.

Conservatism is a political ideology, which places great value on learning from past solutions, tried and true, for answers we need today. It cherishes tradition and resists change. When change is unavoidable, it is accepted slowly and with a fair amount of caution.

While 43 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservative, this figure is misleading. Conservatism is divided into additional disparate parts, including neocons, theocons, and various subsets pointing to leaders of the past, including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. Some of these branches are very different from one another, with issues that overlap.

Conservatives are known for wanting to return to traditional religious and ethical absolutes, automatically rejecting the challenges of relativism. Ronald Reagan summed up his philosophy as "limited government, individual liberty, and the prospect of a strong America." No relativism there.

With the influence of so many competing factions today, issues thought to be conservative have expanded to include anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, supporting of big business, lowering taxes, smaller government, protection of gun ownership, and a knee-jerk dislike of anything considered "liberal."

Conservatives tend to defend the status quo. They usually prefer empirical knowledge to rationalism, faith to reason, rugged individualism to victim mentality, and a have a deep distrust of human nature, which needs to be strongly disciplined. For the sake of freedom, they want less laws and regulations, replaced by greater personal responsibility.

The mere thought of equality seems an obvious mistaken idea. People vary according to their talents, skills, perseverance and a host of other variables. They reap what they sow and earn their rewards accordingly. People are expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, with neighbor helping neighbor when emergency strikes. Success is considered admirable and hard work encouraged.

Traditionally, conservatives lean toward isolationism and away from nation building and wars of choice. For many, neocons especially, this has changed. As you can see, conservatism supports many great ideas that can be found in Seed-for Thought, such as personal responsibility, self-development, a respect for tradition, and looking to the past for answers relevant for today.

Liberalism, at its best, seeks reform and creativity based on human rights and reasonable assumptions. Conservatism, properly applied, takes a more cautious approach, wanting to preserve what is best from the past, restraining liberalism to a slower, more careful pace, so as not to lose or damage that which is good.

Many ideals that liberalism instituted are now considered traditions that conservatives protect. Those would include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, which the American flag represents.

Taken together, these two political approaches offer a process of development that is cautiously progressive, learning from the past while encouraging intellectual creativity. Conservatism would preserve a foundation of Western values at their best, on which liberalism could build. The reformist energy of one would be prudently slowed by the cautionary restraint of the other.

Conservatism in the U.S. is actually a reaction to what are perceived to be liberal excesses. In other words, it is not a so much a separate, conflicting ideology. In America, is too rooted in American liberalism, which has provided our traditions, for that. It is an attempt to tone, though it might take decades.

Unfortunately, as in the case of slavery, some problems should not and cannot neatly be put aside for some future resolution. Civil rights cannot be ignored, and resistance to asserting them is tantamount to oppression. Is that radical change or is it living up to our true American ideals?

Nothing is more natural than wanting to safeguard what we have that is good. We shouldn't disrupt or challenge the benefits we've achieved by imposing radical change. This is the essence of conservatism. That what we have and cherish is rooted in the throes of liberal revolution doesn't matter. Once it becomes our staid tradition, it should be treated as such.

In a sense, this can be seen as a reformist point of view, transitioning initial radicalism into a definable nation. Unfortunately, this reformism has not been articulated very well, or even fully understood by those who see long held traditions jeopardized. People respond with anger rather than reason. Taking an adversarial approach, they are more interested in confrontation, distorting the other side as a threatening, purposely choosing opposite views on every issue to further the divide.

Why? I believe it's because politics is seen as an angry struggle for power rather than a civil discourse. It is assumed that no minds can be changed, so only power can keep things the way they are. And besides, how could conservatism advocate reform, when reform means change that they naturally resist? This is the quagmire of conservatism. It comes from the heart.

People don't change overnight. What supports the complacency we suffer from has become a cultural problem, a surrendering to the requirements of a mass society, where the implicit message is to merge with the crowd and do what's expected - right or wrong. As a cultural problem, we need to deal with it culturally. We need to examine what stops us from taking control of our democratic process, from asking pertinent questions and rising above the propaganda that political strategists feed us.

When it comes to the political arena, we must start by facing the truth: The answers to our problems will never be found in liberalism or conservatism. Never. Complete support for one extreme or the other merely fortifies a stalemate that sinks in its own corruption.

Common sense tells us that a healthy life embraces change and tradition, not pit one against the other, so that every victory associates itself with loss. It approaches problems directly for reasonable solutions, as vehicles for political gain.

Can the life of a healthy state be so different? Must it degrade by becoming cynical and inhuman? If it does, it reflects the people who support it, who then carry the blame.

It is time to turn our backs on media propagandists, campaign strategists, think-tank goons, and political pundits. These professional hucksters flourish on the assumption that the majority of people are easily duped. They are not compatriots of freedom, but rather users of freedom who propagate deception.

It is time we no longer delight in scandal and innuendo, as political strategists count on. Behind the media presentation of scandal is a hidden motive designed to draw out attention from something else, and paint everyone of a given party as sharing in guilt. There is no liberalism down, and standardize what we have into a fixed norm. It is nationalizing the results of our original, revolutionary intent and recognizing them as fixed, reliable traditions, a status quo that needs defending. It wants no more change, or very little. When change is inevitable, it should be taken in slow doses that preserve the core of every day life.

What was perceived, as conservative bigotry in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, was actually a call to slow down so that change could happen without forcing new behavior, and in its own, natural time. We saw these a hundred years earlier, when Abraham Lincoln resisted emancipation, believing that slavery would disappear as a matter of moral course honor in this. When corruption is discovered, take care of it according to the law, announce it on the news in a sane, respectful manner, and avoid the media circus.

It is time we choose to vote according to the worth as candidates, rather than party affiliation or unrelated issues.

It is also time that we embrace the liberal and conservative traditions that we have, merge them into something positive, and make our democratic system the shining example of government that it can be.

Until that happens, I am a conservative and proud to be one.


Clay Barham said...

In the 1858 debates with Senator Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln said; “[T]here is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Keep in mind; Lincoln reflected the Hamilton-Clay interventionist ideals, where the central government and the “superiors” will determine the extent of federal “assistance” to infrastructure and industry in America, certainly opposite the hands-off policies of the 19th century state’s rights Democrats. The 20th century Democrat is closer to Lincoln’s policies than Jefferson’s. Modern Democrats tend to follow the ideals of Rousseau and Marx, where almost everyone, regardless of race, is inferior to the very few superior elite who must rule. Jefferson’s democrats were libertarians, and as such, figured individual freedom and a free market would establish superior and inferior by works and not by government or chains.

Rich V. said...

Thanks for the comment...I'll take a look at your site.