Kelli Ann Cox, Publisher, The Golden Hammer
Let us mourn the death of conservatism in America. Then let’s get to work on reform.
Regardless of whether you believe the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen or just lost, the ultimate result signified American choice on a deep societal and institutional level for the United States Government to step in as the guardian to care for all Americans, whether we want that care or not. The referendum occurred in one or two forms. Either Americans voted in favor of the government-as-guardian viewpoint, if you believe Joe Biden received sufficient votes in the election to win, or American institutions, such as the judiciary, election officials, political activists, and voters, coalesced together to push forward the government-as-guardian point of view to protect themselves from President Donald Trump.
Conservatism has died either way. In order to understand, the import of that death, we must understand what “conservative” actually means, so that we know what died.
Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican United States Senator who stands as the father of the modern conservative movement listed seven basic principles, which comprise conservative beliefs:
- 1st, a conservative “maintains that there is an abiding human nature; and that, under God, there exists a just civil social order which is suited to man’s nature. There are certain natural laws, from which flow natural rights. Governments are the creation of human wisdom and experience designed to supply human wants. But governments are legitimate only if they recognize and respect the natural law.”
- 2nd, “the conservative argues that freedom—moral, political, and economic—is the mark of high civilization; and servitude, under whatever name, is the mark of a barbarous or decadent order.”
- 3rd, “the conservative recognizes that freedom is possible only when order and justice prevail. Order means that there shall be honorable leadership, willingly recognized; and that law rules, not the whims of men.”
- 4th, “the conservative respects the political institutions and customs and traditions which he has inherited, particularly the Constitution of the United States and other great documents of our nation. He believes our heritage of ordered freedom is the product of great wisdom and much practical experience, and he thinks that we would run great risk if we should exchange it for some utopian design.”
- 5th, “the conservative believes that government is force; and though government is necessary and a great good if kept within proper limits, it is by its very nature potentially dangerous. Therefore, government should be concerned with the things that are its proper province, such as defense of the country and the administration of justice; it ought not try to do things which are better done by individuals or voluntary associations.”
- 6th, “the conservative thinks that we should not forget that Americans have a republic characterized by territorial democracy…We must retain our republican form of government at the national level, because centralization in our immense nation would produce atrophy of will and disobedience to law. But at the state and local levels we have a high degree of democracy, which remains healthy just as long as it retains its functions.”
- 7th, “The conservative doubts that mankind ever will enjoy a civil social order much better than the one we already know here in America. There is no such thing as inevitable progress toward utopia. Therefore, we will be wise if we preserve and protect our present moral and social order, improving it here and there, when we have a good chance, but taking care never to hack at the roots of civilization.”
Since Senator Goldwater wrote those principles in 1962, the United States has lost its way. What we regard as core institutions – public education, the judiciary, churches – have begun to support the principles, the Neoliberal Establishment Principles that (1) government is the creator of human wisdom rather than the other way around, (2) government mandates, rather than freedom are the high mark, (3) the whims of government leaders must prevail rather than honor or the law, (4) the Constitution is malleable and must be set aside when it doesn’t work well for our goals, (5) there is never a danger with too much government, because government and the collective action per se are goodness, (6) national government must step in to protect us from wayward states and wayward local governments, and (7) we shall build a utopia through collective thought and through government overcoming the roots of our corrupt civilization.
The Neoliberal Establishment Principles have overwhelmed Americans nationally, Texans as a state, and our localities. The Neoliberal Establishment Principles enjoyed enormous success in the 2020 elections, locally, statewide, and nationally. The Neoliberal Establishment Principles dominate the conduct of elected officials in both political parties.
There simply isn’t room for conservative principles in American institutions, including within the halls of government.
Why did the conservative movement fail?
The conservative movement failed, despite efforts of its adherents during the past 58 years for a number of reasons:
- First, conservatives only focused on influencing government, while they gave Neoliberals free rein within America’s core institutions, public education, the judiciary, and churches. Government, however, acts based upon the beliefs of those who serve within its structures. If those individuals have suffered indoctrination from radically altered social institutions, we cannot expect them to behave in accordance with conservative principles.
- Second, conservatives have failed to recognize that money is the root cause of almost every political and social problem. Simply put, the more money in government hands means the greater social problems become. Take the tide of abortions in the United States as an example. The financial inability to raise a child largely impels the decision to have an abortion. Profits from abortions incentivize health care providers and abortion-providing organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, to grow ever larger. Government health care tax dollars grease the abortion industry and provide the motive for many individuals to opt for abortions over giving birth. The money in the abortion business pays for effective lobbying to prevent legislators from taking any action.
- Third, conservatives have failed to market their beliefs. They’ve failed to make the idea of freedom appealing to most Americans. Rather, Neoliberals attract support by offering them government care and support. The United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton famously said (probably quoting Scottish philosopher Alexander Fraser Tytler), “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end.” Conservatives have watched that end come, while they’ve offered no appealing alternative in the form of the attributes of liberty and individual choice.
- Fourth, conservatives failed to recognize that reform of government must flow upwards. There’s a lot of hard work involved in reform, especially because citizens must begin in their local governments, win reforms, show their communities the merits of their success, and then flow those merits upwards. Reform does not come from the national government, especially in the American system of government which places state and local authority on equal footing with the national government.
Will the Goldwater principles ever prevail?
There is a proper time for political mourning. It’s brief. It’s now over.
The Goldwater principles represent the truth and the reality of the political system. They will only prevail, when those individuals who claim to be “conservatives” strictly adhere to them and act upon them as political activists working through the institutions of our society.
Conservatives must begin reform in their local communities and in their county and city governments, at their school districts, in their local courts, and in their churches. If they’re unwilling to do all of that hard work, they’ll keep losing. They must educate and demonstrate the greater good from individualism rather than from the collective mindset. They must boldly call out financial relationships which corrupt their local communities. They must take back educational institutions, the judiciary, and even their churches.
Reforms must then flow upwards to the states and eventually to the Nation.