*** Warning. The following is an act of political free speech. You are similarly free to respond and debate me. ***
Over the past many years, we have been given a display of the political landscape which includes, the far left, the center, and the far right. As a conservative I do believe that liberals are in fact radicals. But what I am rejecting is the notion that, since we're at the other end of the spectrum as liberals, conservatives therefore are also radicals.
Lets stop for a moment and dissect this idea. I know that so many of us have been told for most of our lives that "the truth is usually in the middle." I do understand that what I am suggesting flies in the face of this statement. It seems to me that the best way we can tackle this question is to assess the actual beliefs and policies of liberals and conservatives and, just as importantly, how those beliefs stack up with the Constitution of the United States.
Now I want to take a moment to make an important statement. I am talking about CONSERVATIVES and LIBERALS. I am not talking about REPUBLICANS and DEMOCRATS. (I understand that George W. Bush did in fact abandon many conservative principles. This does not have anything to do with my argument!)
Conservatives believe that the government should only do the things that are necessary for providing a common defense (military, police departments, etc) and for ensuring that nobody is able to take away another person's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. While we understand that a measure of taxation is required to do these things, we believe that taxation should be kept at a minimum because, at the end of the day, a person's money belongs to that person, regardless of how much of it one has.
We as conservatives believe that the 3 most fundemental liberties listed in the Declaration of Independence are listed in heirarchy:
"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."
What I mean by this is that we believe that an individuals right to life supercedes another's right to liberty, and that a person's right to liberty supercedes another's right to pursue happiness. In other words, I have the right to pursue my own happiness, as long as my excercising of that right does not take away someone else's right to be free. (Example, I do not have the right to make someone my slave in order to pursue my own happiness. Similarly, my right to liberty ends when it takes away another person's life. I am not free to murder someone.)
Speaking in terms of policy, what do these beliefs mean? Let's look at the application of each of these fundemental rights through a Conservative perspective:
Right to Life:
First and foremost, the right to life argument I have put forward is the reason why I, and most conservatives, are anti-abortion. While we recognize that the unborn child is in fact residing in a woman's body (and that she does have the right to pursue happiness as far as it pertains to her body), that unborn child has a right to life. In essence, conservatism states that the unborn child's right to life superceeds the mother's right to pursue happiness. I understand that this position flat out sucks for the pregant woman in question in certain instances. I sympathize. At the same time, I am submitting that the Human Rights of the unborn baby (the Right to Life) does supercede the Civil Rights of the pregant woman (the Right to Pursue Happiness by doing what she wants with her own body).
Right to Liberty:
We, as human beings and as Americans, are free. So far as it does not interfere with anyone else's rights, we have the freedom to do whatever we want to do! We are free to make intelligent decisions! We are also free to make stupid decisions. If I want to smack myself in the head with a brick, as stupid of a decision as this may be, I have a right to do so. Or, in a more reasonable situation (and politically relevant situation), we are free to choose not to purchase health care. The government does not have the right to tell us what we must do (save for very specific situations such as stating that we must pay REASONABLE taxes so that the government can achieve it's necessary functions).
As far as tax policy, it means that government should not confiscate anyone's money, regardless of ability to pay, for broad social policies. We are fine with a safety net, so long as that safety net is designed to be temporary. Unemployment insurance for 13 or 26 weeks? Fine. Unemployment for 3 years? No. Why? Is it because we're heartless? Not at all. There are two fundemental principles at play here.
The first is the fact that the longer you give certain individuals money to do nothing they will indeed do nothing. I was unemployed about a year ago. I put a suit on daily and visited businesses who were hiring in my field. I delivered my resume in person. I found a job in five weeks. Was I blessed? Certainly! But I also made it my job to find a job! During my time unemployed, I was required by New York State to attend a "Job Workshop." At that event, I encountered several individuals whose attitude was "I'm unemployed...great! Now I can get paid to do nothing!" Too many people, and I recognized not all, will only get off their rears to find a job when their well being is at stake.
The second issue is the fact that it is not the job of the American people to provide for individuals longterm! Providing for the people is not the government's job. Period. (Governments exist to promote common welfare, yes, but not provide the common welfare. Government is responsible for maintaining a climate where people can prosper. That means stopping one individual from taking anothers rights and also to not regulate the economy so much that businesses cannot thrive (this overregulation, by the way, is being done now).) The money being spent to pay people to do nothing does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people, regardless of how much they have. Therefore, beyond providing in an emergency, the government should not be paying people to not work for years at a time.
Right to Pursue Happiness:
Insomuch as an individuals pursuit of happiness does not interfere with another person's right to liberty or life, we are free to do whatever we wish! What sort of things are excluded? Well, I'm not free to pursue happiness by driving my car while drunk. Why? Because this behavior may cause another person harm. I am not free to pursue happiness by utlizing certain types of drugs (and by that I mean, cocaine, heroine, etc). Why? Because the use of these drugs a) inhibits a person's ability to make good decisions, thus putting other individuals in harms way b) they are so highly addictive that people will kill, steal, etc to obtain these drugs. Now as addictive as nicotine is, I have never seen anyone so addicted to nicotine that if they cannot get cigarettes they kill and steal. Or how about caffine? Lack of this particular legal drug causes no major issues save for headaches and irritability.
I am not free to pursue happiness by taking money from someone else to provide for my wants. I don't just mean stealing. Conservatives believe it is wrong to take someone's money in taxes to provide for, say, the Endowment for the Arts. You are taking money from me without me having the right to refuse so that you can pay another person to paint a picture or sculpt a turtle. In this case, the government is helping one person pursue their happiness by depriving me of my liberty to spend my money as I choose.
This is not to say that someone cannot CHOOSE to give their money to an artist. I own art in my home, and I am glad to have it. I enjoy the work that is in my home. But I paid my own money of my free will for the paintings I have (or was given them as a gift by someone who bought them for me by their own free will). The issue here is the depravation of my liberty for the sake of allowing someone to pursue happiness.
What this part of the Declaration of Independence does mean is that, if I so choose, I have the right to eat fast food 3 meals a day if it makes me happy (I chose not to). I can eat trans-fat if I want to. I can eat butter by the stick if I want to (I don't). I am not putting anyone else in danger by eating a cheeseburger. So the government has zero right to tell me what to eat!
Returning to my original point, what in these beliefs is radical? Freedom? Personal choice? Right to your life? Is it radical to say that other people do not have the right to take away my money and give it to others, regardless of how much I have? Is it not mine to do with as I please, provided I fulfill the requirements given by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence?
Now what about liberal views. Liberals believe that they have the right to take from those who have more and spend that money on services for those who have less. Perhaps it can be best worded by saying that society has the right to take "...from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
Sounds a great deal like our modern liberals, right? Must be a quote from President Lyndon B. Johnson or President Franklin D. Roosevelt right? Maybe from our current President, Barrack Obama. If you guessed that, you'd be wrong. This quote is taken from Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto.
Modern liberals believe that you and I are far too stupid to make good decisions for ourselves. We can't decide for ourselves if we want to smoke cigarettes, regardless of the known risks. Even though the pack of cigarettes says "these will kill you" in one way or another, people choose to do so anyway. Since people are clearly too stupid to make the right decision, liberals will continue to regulate cigarettes to protect people from themselves.
- Trans-fat is bad for you. People need the benevolent government to protect them from eating foods with trans-fat.
- Everyone needs medical insurance, therefore we are going to force you to buy it. Because we know what's best for you.
- If someone has more than a certain amount of money, government liberals believe they have a right to take as much of your money as they need to provide for other people. That money belongs to them because government cannot do without.
I ask a pointed question: Who is radical? I argue that it is liberals! They who believe that they have the right to infringe upon YOUR rights are the radicals! The argument therefore is that if liberals are one extreme, the farthest extreme we see regularly in America must be an equal extreme. This is where I disagree fervently. There is nothing radical about saying that a person is entitled to their personal property, which includes their money. It belongs to that person. It's theirs. There is nothing radical about saying that every person has a right to life, regardless how that life was conceived, regardless of how inconvienient it may be to another person, regardless even of the fact that that life lives within the body of another person. That unborn person is entitled to their life.
The extreme right wing, by the way, is monarchy and dictatorship. I refuse to be definded as radical because my position is a certain distance from one radical extreme and because there is another group between these two. I state this because there are others significantly farther to the right of Conservatives. Conservatism, however, is not extreme. Conservatism represents the Constitution, represents freedom.
I present therefore that since Conservatism is a principle based entirely on the Constitution of the United States, we are the center. We are the middle. Those who are less Constitutionally based than us are the ones who are not in the center. If this is you, that's fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But, I reject the premise that Conservatives are radical because we believe in the Constitution.
I submit therefore, that Conservatism, due to it's solid anchor in the supreme law of our land, the Constitution of the United States, is in fact THE CENTER. I welcome and look forward to the debate which is to follow!