That phrase from Edmund Burke resonates with a call-to-action that is quintessentially American: an aversion to wrong-doing that prompts ordinary people to do historic things consistent with our collective pursuit of happiness.
For years, the modern conservative movement has lamented the rise and rule of malcontents and mis-managers as they have debilitated the American Dream for many citizens, notably those in urban America. Gerrymandering has carved out Democrat-led districts that have been run by the political left for 100 years at the congressional, state, and regional levels. This has yielded a stream of left-leaning congresspeople, state representatives and senators, and other local officeholders that have dominated policy-making. And yet, despite this political reality, the results for urban America has been failing schools, economic disparities, occupation gaps, police corruption, and social unrest – repeatedly.
With the global threat of COVID-19 and international threats coming from China, Russia, and despot-led nations, America simply cannot endure the divisiveness that comes from unresolved domestic issues that are rooted in racial inequalities and cultural toxicities. Our standing as the world’s leading force for good – not to mention our national security – are at grave risk without resolution. We cannot continue down the path of broken promises, untenable policy points (such as a Green New Deal), and glacial advancement towards a more equal union without severe – and possibly irreversible — consequences.
Modern conservatism must act – and it must act now.
US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) has heroically taken up the mantle to offer reforms for this nation – not only with his struggle to advance transformative reform despite the wicked lack of partnership that Democrats are politically staging currently. Other moves should be commended, including the First Step Act of 2018. However, there must be so much more.
Modern conservatives must be key authors of the healing tone and empowering initiatives that will fulfill the American Promise and defend the American Way of Life for all of us. We must present transformative paths forward that procure equality in daily life. We must eradicate ills stemming from years of feckless leadership for the communities that needed inspiring and effective governance the most. We must foster a conservative bridge of legislative direction (i.e., through both the addition of as well as the elimination of laws) that brings America to civic homeostasis.
That stability has been unachievable through radical left-driven policies, regardless of how much further they are driven to the extreme. However, we must be dutifully aware that our conservatism must be driven by a sentiment of servant-leadership, tempered with wisdom and grace, and sparked by the spirit of second chances that American history and Christian dogma reflects. Yet, it must also be incorruptible in its integrity. It must be objective in its values and not subjective in its application. It must be complete within our diversity and not calculated and divisive based on political realities. It must be consistent in its definitions of liberty and prosperity and not conditional due to friendships or fear.
Right now, we are not trusted much by the very Americans that need our partnership the most. To build that trust and to heal our nation effectively, we cannot extend a flawed hand of cooperation. To keep trust through the upcoming missteps that will inevitably come, our character cannot be in question any longer.
To counteract and defeat the radical left, we must be radical in our embrace and belief in our constitutional conservatism – a tenet that honors the Almighty and the power within the rights of life that God bestowed.
Some may purport that proposed policies such as curtailing qualified immunity for police officers, ending stop-and-frisk in its ineffective (and disproportionally-applied) current practice, and addressing no-knock warrants are placating tactics that only make headlines. Yet, today’s conservatives must remind the nation that it is radical and appropriate to defend and uphold constitutional rights for all Americans. It is the only path towards true law and order that rebuilds public trust, common decency, and civic unity.
Some Americans may rebuff the notion that school choice is a powerful weapon to eradicate the decades of education inequities that spawned from the evil of Jim Crow and urban policies such as redlining. Yet, today’s conservatives must remind the nation that policies such as “Back on Track” education programs post-pandemic and tax-credit scholarships moving forward are the accelerators towards prosperity that heal the wounds from our legacy and protect America from future vulnerabilities.
There is so much we can do. Yet, there is also much we cannot do – certainly not anymore.
As conservatives, we cannot assault truth-tellers on the notions of race in America, especially ones that are also trying to heal our nation through extolling our free-market principles. Some consider denoting the violence in Chicago, the condition of too many Black families today, and the damaging impact of some segments of our culture (e.g., corrosive misogyny in rap music) as nothing more than “telling the truth” by some conservatives. If so, then surely there must be no offense taken by them when the historical truths about the widespread impacts of racism are highlighted in full color – from Tulsa to Wilmington, from Tuskegee to “Cancer Alley”, from Emmett Till to James Byrd, Jr., from South Carolina schools to Texas swimming pools, and from police-condoned public lynchings to the George Floyd tragedy. Showing the troubled history of America is not giving up on America; it is part of the resolution process for America. No one effectively washes all the dirt from one’s face without taking a prolonged and detailed look in the mirror.
Just the same, modern Black conservatives cannot chastise African-Americans for having a “victim” or “plantation” mentality, only to assume a martyr complex themselves for their conservative beliefs. Too many Black conservatives seek compliments and comfort (and even compensation) from enduring name-calling and blowback because of their “truth-telling”, even as they condemn civil rights leaders and notable other African-Americans for their decades-long activism. True leaders never point people to the scars on their own backs; they prompt people to avert their eyes from the pain and towards the prize ahead. One cannot bemoan the whininess of the left while crocodile tears are still streaming down one’s face.
We can do so much. Yet, due to the challenges facing us all, there is so little time. Burke said it years ago: When bad men combine, the good must associate…else they will fall one by one. This is the time when good conservatives must be great to heal, unite, uplift – and, in a very real sense – save America. It is our moment of truth: to know our conservatism deeper than the divide before us and to act with civic wholesomeness that fills the void after years of intentional neglect and wanton ineptitude. It is on us to do more than we have seen and be more than what we have been.
I believe we can.