Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Does Conservatism Need to Evolve to Remain Relevant in the 21st Century?...

Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

Every so often it is good to take a few moments and review things one once thought etched in stone. As time moves forward and people gain additional experience, additional knowledge, and their wisdom increases it stands to reason that occasionally viewpoints will change.

There are really only fourthings that one can be absolutely sure of; Taxes, death, the hands of time will not stop, and the only real constant is change. We have absolutely no control over time or death and almost zero control over taxes, other than electing folks who may or may not raise our taxes after they are elected.

Change, or how as an individual one views change (positive versus negative), reacts to change (positive versus negative), or fosters change (proactively seeking or encouraging change)is completely within our control and therefore offers us the opportunity to grow, modify our views, or completely change direction if believed appropriate based on either additional experience and or additional knowledge. Wisdom is IMV a combination of the two and therefore grows over ones entire lifespan.

With those thoughts in mind the proprietor of this humble weblog decided to take a look at the sites Conservative Manifesto, one which was penned almost six years ago and based heavily on 19th and 20th century thought. In doing so it became apparent that a few things needed modification if it was to represent current thought of the weblog proprietor.

                   A Conservative Manifesto

I consider the principles of true, independent, modern day conservatism to be the belief in:

1) Limited government with authority granted to it as enumerated in our Constitution

2) A true free market economy, that is to say, laissez-faire capitalism

3) A judiciary (Supreme Court) that interprets law from a strict constructionist view rather than legislating from the bench.

4) A legislative branch that recognizes their responsibility is to the people and not their own corrupt political interests

5) A government that recognizes the rights of the individual always, and by necessity exceeds the rights of any collective

6) A government that views its mandate to tax the citizenry as limited to funding the proper role of government, not every flavor of social program that happens to come along

7) A government that recognizes the value of borders, language, and culture and insures we do not lose ours through overzealous multiculturalism.

8) A government that recognizes the only appropriate use of deadly force is in the defense of our borders and our people

9) A government that protects the rights of everyone to free thought and speech.

10) A government that insures it's citizens are protected from crimes against their person or property, and when necessary administers proper and effective punishment

Items number 2, 5, 6, and 10 stood out as needing some tweaking. While the core belief driving the statements remain unchanged the realities of the 21st century and our global economy make it necessary to view the statements as they relate to present realities. Following is the rephrasing and end resuilt of what I believe modern day conservatives ought to respresent.

2) A truly competitive market, one in which the influences of government is limited to insuring that all competitors have a level playing field on which to play and that special interest receive no favorable treatment.

5) A government that places the rights of the individual superior to the rights of the collective; in doing so greater individual and personal responsibility must out of necessity fall to the individual.

6) A government that views its mandate to tax as limited to funding the proper role of government. That is to say; funding the government so as to insure the integrity of the nation's defenses, infrastructure, and supporting the common welfare of its people.

10) A government that insures it's citizens are protected from crimes against their person or property, and when necessary administers proper and effective corrective action(s).

Contrary to what many on the hard right would have you believe liberalizing conservative thought as society continues to evolve is not evil, nor is it shameful. If circumstances indicate it makes sense to consider new avenues of thought and move forward when evidence suggests the benefit of doing so smart folks move ahead. To do otherwise is reactionary and if humankind had taken the reactionary path through its development we'd still be living in caves and carrying clubs.

Being flexible when it makes sense is always the best path to take. Perhaps manifestos and unyielding beliefs in first principles sometimes get in the way of good judgment and common sense. Today's political environment highlights this quite well.


  1. My only problem with manifestos in general is that they tend to turn obsolete almost as soon as they are written. There must be sufficient flexibility written into any document that can account for change as contingencies arise. My other problem is: Why a “conservative” manifesto? There are core traditions and values that most of us hold near and dear - not merely “conservative” or “liberal” or “libertarian” in tone and substance. Regardless of political persuasion, I believe we need to restore a sense of common purpose - meaning mutually shared responsibility and citizenship - to our public life. This means recognizing that a nation has many stakeholders; that compromise and consensus have always been a venerated part of this grand experiment in democracy.

    It will be interesting to see how this discussion thread develops.

  2. Indeed it will (O)CT(O)PUS, indeed it will.

    As you see the post has been up since Wednesday late afternoon. You are the sole commenter to the thread. I did receive an e-mail from an individual that said I didn't sound too rational because of my obvious belief there are time compromise is necessary. I responded directly to the e-mail and the person is more than welcome to comment in the open forum should they decide to do so.

    As you may have guessed I find nothing to quibble over with your statement. I have super strong beliefs about individualism and the personal responsibility that we should all shoulder in the effort to maintain the right to be an individual. While I haven't the time to go into detail as I am leaving shortly for Connecticut and work I suspect you know and understand what I mean. I shall respond to frther comment on this subject should there be any.

    This may sound pompous, and I know it full well; but I'm beginning to believe most people spend little to no time thinking beyond the paradigms they have created for themselves. Not that I am any different as I been there and taken that position on occasions. Key is to at least look at alternative thought honestly before deciding it is bunk. Takes hard work and all too many folks haven't the time, desire, or both to do so.

    Gotta run...

    1. While I would admire evolution on the right, it seems the current entrenched TP/Fundy/Neocon/Wealthy/anti-everthing else bunch seems to sit pretty well with the
      electorate. Go figure.

    2. Go figure.

      There is a plausible explanation for everything these days. What preoccupies our thoughts after the nightly news? We hear about chicanery and corruption, inequality and injustice, abuse of our public institutions, the lies and deceptions of persons who aspire to positions of power and authority over us; of legislative deadlock and gridlock, and a public abused by political hacks and henchmen. How often has the public interest been held hostage by special interest groups and their lobbyists who hold our elected officials in thrall? What we used to call ‘bribery’ and ‘graft’ have now become standard operating procedure.

      Perhaps we should talk about this: We equate freedom with excess and excess with freedom; we practice brinksmanship but not citizenship; we facilitate overindulgence without moderation or self-restraint; we covet freedom but spurn responsibility. With each passing year, we drive all standards of civility, community and accountability further into the wilderness. National conversations turn fractious and fragmented. The high ideals of secular democracy no longer bind us together. Perhaps the madness in our midst reflects the accelerated grimace of a culture gone mad.

      As food for thought, I leave you with this -

      Stephen Hawking Warns of Human Aggression:

      The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.

  3. In my admittedly simplistic view I will state that no society can survive for long lacking structure/framework, common goals and common purpose, a just legal system, respect for shared rights, acceptance of personal responsibility as well as civic and community responsibility, and the wisdom and will to effect change when it is obviously needed.

    I find it interesting the folks who scream the loudest about protecting their freedoms, liberty, and rights are the ones who likely would be the first to take yours away from you. The pursuit of liberty and individualism should not drive one to stupidity. Fortunately there seems to be no shortage of folks who are on the path to the latter.

  4. IMHO, conservatism needs to become a lot more libertarians.

    Less authoritarian, for sure. And shun theocratic and other dogma.


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