The foundations of modern conservatism can be faithfully traced to the same religious doctrine from which the founding ideals of America took root. Yet, the Republican party is largely perceived as being hostile to social welfare in general, presumably out of the belief that its practice necessarily leads to income redistribution. But as the increasingly common fate of lottery winners has often shown, the link between a person’s financial state and their welfare is not uniformly causal. We have discarded the lessons of our parents, teachers, pastors, and others from our youth when they told us that money does not bring happiness. Liberal social welfare presumes that it does, and we have bought into it.
But what if we redefined social welfare independently of money and material wealth? How would our parents, teachers, pastors, grandparents, aunts, and uncles define the welfare of others? Wouldn’t that kind of true social welfare be a central part of the system of ideals that is central to conservatism rather than the weak, soul-deadening system of crippling handouts that we have sadly allowed the Left to associate with the word “welfare” in the public eye?
What follows is an outline of a position paper on what I feel could be an important strategy for our party in the coming months and years. I’m not so presumptive as to think that the entire utility of a vision is limited to a broad, comprehensive view of it, and so this document is intended as a summary of the important points, each of which has some degree of independence from the others (though they are all strongly interrelated). The reader may pick and choose, or elect to tackle this concept in its entirety at his or her discretion.
As for my qualifications to offer such a view, I am a layperson in the political arena. I am a 35 year-old graduate student in a highly technical engineering field. If you believe my mother, I’m smart as hell. More likely though, I am no more than a moderately capable intellectual. I bring this up out of an awareness of the fact that, unlike the empirically driven technical pursuits wherein I spend most of my time, the final word (or at least a factor) in a social science debate can often be the credentials of the purveyor of any argument or thesis. So I must address mine.
I have spent time running a business for pure profit and considerable extracurricular time and effort in humanitarian pursuits. This time has exposed me to a wide range of political thought which, ultimately, has reaffirmed in me the rectitude of true conservatism. I love its firm basis, solid structure, and artful decoration. I love its roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Properly conceived and smartly applied, conservatism is THE powerhouse of political thought. This is the lesson my experiences have taught me.
But I fear that, in our politicized practice of conservatism, we have been deviating from its foundational tenets in recent times. While we accept as an axiom that income redistribution bleeds a society, we must be wary of the assumption that any application of human compassion in the political realm must necessarily lead to it. It does not, and in fact, cannot, if it is ever to have the desired effect. True compassion is and should be at the core of true conservatism, and we as a party have neglected it to our detriment out of a fear derived from a false assumption fed to us by the Left. We have been duped—maneuvered into this position. I am not suggesting that we, as Republicans and conservatives move to the Left, but rather that the Left has stolen an issue that should be ours, and we should take it back. And so, these writings are an appeal for consideration of that possibility. Take what you will, leave what you wish. But consider.
Lastly, please note that any and all criticisms of our own party and/or its actions made herein are offered for the single and solitary purpose of mitigation. Our weaknesses must be addressed, the holes in our armor patched. We cannot go into battle unprepared because no one would speak up. Nothing could be more disloyal than a fear-driven, passive silence that allowed such a thing to happen. We must prepare.
Note: Each of these points will be addressed in more detail (1-2 pages) in later entries.
- The McCain campaign needs an issue to call its own.
- The Republican Party has historically been unfriendly toward issues revolving around social welfare, and that general stance is inconsistent with the fundamental religious/spiritual foundation of many conservatives’ belief systems BECAUSE we have implicitly accepted that the destructive liberal approach to social welfare is the only approach. (It is not. It is just the wrong approach. True compassion does not and cannot lead to income redistribution.)
- Social welfare, and the application of properly conceived and well-planned conservative approaches should be at the top of our priority list. We are the party that proclaims, quite rightly, that societal health ultimately derives from that of its basic building block: the family unit.
- The crippling effect of liberal social welfare policies can and should be emphasized. It is quantifiable, and has not gone unnoticed. Bringing this debate into the mainstream changes it in a way that is to our benefit.
- Liberal social welfare presumes that a government-centered, “mechanical” approach, where only the end-stage symptoms of societal dysfunction are addressed is the best approach, and the causal link between the roots of that dysfunction and its final effects is ultimately denied in the liberal ideological structure.
- A thoroughly planned and expertly implemented campaign on this issue has great potential. The issue is a significant weakness for the Democratic Party for three reasons:
- The link between liberal policies and the damage they do can be made and substantiated numerically, unambiguously, and objectively.
- This is an issue on which the party and candidate are completely unprepared to proffer an effective defense. They could never anticipate having to do so.
- The rectitude of a truly conservative stand can be shown and proven incrementally and logically, and supported with conclusions derived from core beliefs common to both left and right. Again, this proof is easier in the mainstream than in the academic circles to which it has been thus far limited.
- The power of the foundations of conservatism provide a firm basis for making these arguments and appealing not just to the right, but to all those who genuinely think and care about the true welfare of those around them.