Retaking Territory Lost

At RS09, Virginia Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli said something we all should know: it isn’t enough to draw a line in the sand, allowing the forces of chaos to advance no further.  Rather, we must regain ground we have ceded.  The way we will do that is not to become like the other side, in the interest of taking back merely the power we squandered.  We will do it by winning back the hearts and minds of Americans, drawing them back to a narrative far greater than the ersatz one they have been duped into accepting.

The ersatz narrative has many forms, but in essence it is that government exists to take care of people, and that only government can do so.  Anyone who opposes those false ideals of government is cast as uncaring and selfish.

There is an alternative view, of course.  Conservatives and libertarians believe that government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens.  That is, oddly enough, what our most cherished document says:

… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, [….]

The reason for governments is to secure our rights, not to buy us a more fuel-efficient car.

So that’s the motivation. But how do we do it? We do it by doing it.

I must answer an objection I know is coming. Even though the liberal media will edit our remarks to fit their agenda, we must still insist on making these points. Just because they will edit our opinions is no reason to conform to theirs. Conforming to theirs is what we do when we accept their premises.

A liberal talking point is often that conservatives just want to do nothing. In response to some real or imagined problem, one side wants to fix it while the other side would rather wait to see if it is really a problem. That being the case, interviewed conservatives sometimes get caught on the road staring at the headlights. We can have a ready answer.

Overall, we need to remember that government must liberate. When asked for a policy, our first reaction should be to ask what laws, rules, or regulations created the problem, and which of them can be repealed or altered. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, we will need no new laws for about six hundred years.

We insist, secondly, that not all problems need fixing. Liberals are quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater (sometimes literally, even without the water). As with health insurance, it is usually the case that most people are happy with the status quo, and the measure of change they will accept varies depending on how happy they are with their own situation and how bad the problem can be made to appear.

Another aspect of this is that some amount of struggling on their own allows people to rise above their circumstances. I’m not talking about allowing people to hurt each other; I’m talking about allowing people the freedom to lift themselves out of trouble, without anyone else’s help. That kind of accomplishment is the true source of self-esteem. Government fixes never are.

Thirdly, of those problems that do need fixing only a tiny subset are things government can, or should attempt to, fix. We have other institutions: a huge variety of churches, volunteer organizations, and neighbors helping neighbors without any formal organization. When government takes over charity, it crowds out those other, more efficient, means of aid.

We must refuse to answer any question that presupposes something we know to be false or mere supposition. They’ll try to get us to answer questions as hypothetical, but we must refuse. When we answer a hypothetical, it will often be edited to make it appear that we accept it. That is why they are asking the question.

Finally, we must always tie economic liberty and personal liberty together. They are inseparable, but because we have so often stressed economic liberty, people have begun to accept the narrative that we are against personal liberty and want only to write our “narrow” morality into law. Really we want our government not to actively assault traditional morality. We know that when government grows in its power in one area, it inevitably creeps into others. As we want small government, we reject its use to control even some things we find repugnant. It exists to defend liberty, not to control us.

Defending traditional morality is one of those jobs for us, not for government.

A list of specific laws to repeal, and a more thorough investigation of which problems need fixing and by whom, will have to wait for another day.

Cross-posted at The Minority Report