The Mentality of Conservatism; The Conscience of America

Conservatism Isn’t an Option…It’s the Solution

The “R” Behind Your Name Just Isn’t Enough Anymore

The Republican Party used to stand exclusively for the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, more individual liberty, opportunity for all, and a strong national defense. To its credit, the party is trying to recapture dominance in these areas…I think. But make no mistake: the Republican Party of today is not ignited by the same torch that lit the Reagan Revolution in 1980. Unfortunately, simply punching the ballot card for a candidate with an “R” behind their name isn’t enough anymore. However, we can go a long way toward correcting that matter in November.

Making November Work

If we’re going to make a difference this election cycle—I mean make a REAL difference, the kind that’s an improvement, not just a change—then we need to shift our collective mindset as it pertains to the political landscape in America.

I know, I know… You’ve heard this before, right?

Well, here’s the deal. Up until now, such a “shift” was something that defied our understanding. It didn’t seem possible, let alone necessary. Changing—or even challenging—the “establishment” political powers has been as daunting and nearly as risky for an office-seeking patriot as it was to be associated with the original “Sons of Liberty” in Colonial times. Sure, it was the right thing to do—but you just might be metaphorically tarred-and-feathered for doing so. You simply did not question the political power brokers…

…but that was then. Before Doug Hoffman. Before Marco Rubio. Before Pat Toomey. Before Rand Paul. Before Sharron Angle. Yes, a lot has happened since the fall of 2008. Now real GOP mavericks—those committed to bringing the Republican Party back to its conservative roots—are stepping forward. And not a second too early.

Our new reality is one where fraud, waste, and abuse audaciously run rampant, our future is poorly (at best) defined, and there is an all-too-real risk of losing much of the character that makes America great. Suddenly, the “shift” we need to make is becoming much more clear…and a lot less intimidating.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Our form of government—a Representative Republic—was designed to cede a majority of power to the people “among the many states.” To this end, the Constitution calls for specifically limited Congressional powers. Ahh, yes…a reference to the often-overlooked preamble to the Bill of Rights and a concept that “traditional” politicians have long evaded and/or abused—precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned us about when he said that the 1787 Constitutional Convention had given us “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

We can keep it. We MUST keep it. But doing so will depend on us re-affirming our belief in (and recommitting our efforts to) one all-important concept: conservatism.

Why “conservatism” and not “liberalism” or “progressivism?” Simple. Not only is it what the Constitution demands (by way of smaller government and serious national defense), but it’s also the only approach that works with a Republic. Liberalism and progressivism, by their defining tenets, grow the size of the federal government—which is the antithesis of what our system of governance is built on. Conservatism, in contrast, is based on continually looking for ways to reduce the influence of government in Americans’ lives, a concept that has largely been lost on BOTH sides of the political aisle, in recent years.

Furthermore, the aforementioned blight of fraud, waste, and abuse—collectively the largest threat to the economic viability of our nation—flourishes in a liberal or progressive political environment. When government programs and bureaucracies are created (or grow), they require more people to join the government employment roster to staff new positions; they require more taxpayer dollars to pay for them; and they require an increasingly large portion of the budget each year. Before you know it, you’ve got Congress buying fighter jets that the Pentagon doesn’t want, a state-of-the-art airport being built in rural Pennsylvania to service [an incredible!] six flights per day, a 2,800 page healthcare bill that federalizes student loans, and—who can forget—a multi-million dollar bridge to nowhere.

If we are to keep our Republic, as Dr. Franklin forewarned, then our greatest threat is NOT from any specific political party (because members of both parties have been “asleep at the wheel”). Rather, it is the lazy and misguided mindset that someone else will take care of our irresponsibility. That mentality is dangerous…and the primary tenet of liberalism and progressivism: “Sit back, don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything for you.”

Advancing A Mindset, Not A Party

I am a Republican. But I am NOT a circa-2008, “reach across the aisle to dilute my conservative message,” “vote-for-higher-spending,” “increase-the-size-of-government” John McCain-type of Republican. I’m a “Barry Goldwater” or “Ronald Reagan,” and—speaking as an individual, which our Founding Fathers encouraged us to do—”Dave Westlake” Republican who is passionate about the greatness of this nation because I know that the people who live here make better decisions for themselves and for their families than the government can; who likewise knows that government serves us best when it serves us in the very limited capacity outlined in the Constitution. Therefore, I advance a conservative mindset—a set of ideals. Because party leadership and direction can change, but core values and guiding principles never should.

I further advance this conservative mindset because the ideals of limited government are what put our country on the path to greatness initially, and they are what need to be promoted going forward if we are to beat back the very real and looming dangers of fraud, waste, and abuse. It’s what is necessary to continue to champion the cause of liberty in this world. This mindset is the very mentality of conservatism. Ever since John Adams declared that “…the meanest and lowest of the people are—by the unalterable, indefeasible laws of God and nature—as well entitled to the benefit of the air to breathe, light to see, food to eat, and clothes to wear as the Nobles or the King,” these values have been the hope…the inspiration…the conscience of America.