conservatism

You Are Not a Conservative If?

I rarely read Breitbart anymore because the racists, bigots, and homophobes have taken over the comment section. What makes it worse is Breitbart management apparently doesn’t care and at this point, just wants clicks. What a downfall for the terrific site Andrew created.

The same is happening at the Gateway Pundit (GP). Jim Hoft, the Founder and Editor of the Gateway Pundit, is gay, something he neither hides nor broadcasts. He’s just a Conservative guy who created a fantastic website that has taken over the role Breitbart once played. Now I see the same thing happening in the comments at GP as started on Breitbart a few years ago. There was always some of this on GP, but recently it has gotten totally out of control.

I assume some of this is being done by far-left activists who post inflammatory comments on Conservative sites, but from the number of these comments, there is more to this. Caitlyn Jenner being on Hannity last night is what kicked off the comments today, Hannity played this ad. If you ignore that Bruce is now Caitlyn, this is a phenomenal ad and has just the right tone Conservatives should have. It is a model ad for Conservatism.

As a teenager growing up in a small town, I only knew of 1 homosexual man and he was kind of creepy. There were rumors of an older black kid having both male and female sex organs. He looked like a boy but everyone called “him” Sis. When was a little older, I learned one of my former classmates had come out as gay, and in college, I knew both boys and girls that were homosexuals.

When I started working I met more gay people. Some announced they were gay at every opportunity that came up and others never said a word about it in public. Some acted “gay” and some didn’t. It was still very confusing to me, but I couldn’t believe many people would become homosexual by choice. It is hard enough to be part of the huge majority of heterosexuals, so why would a person choose to become gay? I think very few do.

If people don’t choose to be gay, then why are they gay? I’m not an expert and am not trying to pretend to be one, but the obvious reasons are either genetics or environment or possibly a combination. There have always been homosexuals in human communities and in animal communities. When I thought about how scary it must be to a 12 or 13-year-old to discover that they have sexual feelings toward kids of their own sex, I knew my attitude toward homosexuals needed to change, and it has.

I AM a CONSERVATIVE WHO BELIEVES in INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM, INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, and EQUALITY UNDER GOD and UNDER THE CONSTITUTION.

When it comes to transgender, I am getting there, but it is challenging. I can accept that a small percentage of the population has a gender identity that is different than that assigned to them at birth. How this should be handled is far beyond my level of knowledge or understanding.

Bruce Jenner was at one time the greatest male athlete in the world. Why would he come out as transgender at the age of 65? I think this is something most of us will never understand and I don’t think we have to. What we do need to do is respect the individual, respect their individual rights and freedoms, and know that they equal in the eyes of God and under our Constitution.

At Gateway Pundit I saw several comments that said Caitlyn Jenner can’t be a Conservative, that Conservatism rejects homosexuality and transgenderism. Many comments were much more vicious than these. I suggested these people do a little research and discover what Conservatism actually is.

The tenets of Conservatism from the Reagan.com website:

  • The right to privacy: Conservative values often place emphasis on the need for Americans to be able to live freely, without influence from the government or media. Lately, this has been evidenced in conservative support for privacy on the Internet.
  • Self-defense: Many right-leaning Americans agree that the nation’s future is contingent upon protecting itself from domestic and foreign threats.
  • Justice: All Americans deserve to live freely and equally.
  • Limited government: Most top conservative values are driven by the idea that America functions best when its citizens can govern themselves, with limited influence from the federal government.
  • Self-help: Conservatives recognize that Americans have the capacity to lift themselves out of negative situations and should invest in self-improvement instead of relying on government or other sources.
  • Hard work: Each American has an obligation to invest in and contribute to society.
  • The value of the free market: Competition drives growth and progress, according to top conservative values.
  • Pride in country: Conservatives believe patriotism should be a natural part of each American’s life.
  • Opposition to special interests: The government and its leaders should operate independently of pressure from special interest groups.
  • Sanctity of the Constitution: Our nation’s founding fathers were guided by a core set of principles when they laid down the framework for the country, and those goals should continue to be upheld, according to conservatives.

The tenets of Conservatism from Russell Kirk:

  • First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.
  • Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
  • Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.
  • Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.
  • Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety
  • Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.
  • Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
  • Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
  • Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.
  • Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

I could continue listing the tenets of Conservatism as espoused by current and former leaders in Conservative thought and not one would include being a racist, a homophobe, a bigot, or treating anyone as a lesser person. What the Conservatives have stood for in the past was both individual liberty and civil liberty. Somehow, we have lost our way and allowed the Democrats to lay claim to being the champion of civil liberties when history shows it was the Republicans who most often championed civil liberties, and we need to do so again.

And before someone says I am saying that we need quotas and preferential treatment, I am not saying that and am opposed to it. What I am for is ensuring that every American citizen has an equal opportunity and is equal under the law.

Philosophy

Tenets of a Viable 21st Century Conservatism

I have been researching whether conservatism is a philosophy or an ideology and came across a speech by Jordan Peterson that he presented in Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada in 2017. Peterson suggests that “conservatism be presented as a manifesto of fundamental values instead of “Thou Shall Not” statements”. Dr. Peterson presents a philosophical view of conservatism rather than the dogma that typically is espoused.

The main benefit I see is these tenets provide us with a positive way to talk about conservatism. Instead of it seeming to younger adults that liberals are for things and conservatives are against things, these tenets of conservatism give us a way to explain conservatism as a positive philosophy based on real-life experiences over hundreds of years.

These are the 12 tenets of conservatism discussed in the presentation:

  1. The fundamental assumptions of Western civilization are valid.
  2. A peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war. In consequence, it justly and rightly demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.
  3. Hierarchies of competence are desirable and should be promoted.
  4. Borders are reasonable. Likewise, limits on immigration are reasonable. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual-rights predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.
  5. People should be paid so that they are able and willing to perform socially useful and desirable duties.
  6. Citizens have the inalienable right to benefit from the result of their own honest labor.
  7. It is more noble to teach young people about responsibilities than about rights.
  8. It is better to do what everyone has always done, unless you have some extraordinarily valid reason to do otherwise.
  9. Radical change should be viewed with suspicion, particularly in a time of radical change.
  10. The government, local and distal, should leave people to their own devices as much as possible.
  11. Intact heterosexual two-parent families constitute the necessary bedrock for a stable polity.
  12. We should judge our political system in comparison to other actual political systems and not to hypothetical utopias.

The one thing I would add to his 12 tenets is this one from Russell Kirk:

  • Permanence and Change must be reconciled in a vigorous society.

I think reconciling change is the biggest weakness of the Republican Party. They are always in reactive mode to the Democrats wanting to change things. We should be changing things that need to be changed, but using a conservative philosophy. We have to be on offense as much as we are on defense.

Are there any tenets you think need to be added?

Populism

What is Populism? – Modern US Populism

What Is Populism – Modern US Populism?

Populism has many definitions, but the one that most closely defines current US populism is the “common man” versus the “Elites”. The “common man” or the “people” are defined by class, ethnicity, nationality, or economic status. But “common man” goes even deeper than that. It is the individual and that individual’s Constitutional rights that are part of who we are as Americans.

The “elite” can include political, economic, media, and cultural leaders, the intelligentsia, and government. Any group that exerts an unfair force against the individual or the people could be considered the elite.

Example: Suppose that several large companies who offer a utility-like service start banning people based on their political beliefs. That might start a popular movement by the people who were banned against the large companies. If the government took the side of the companies, then this would likely start a populist movement that would affect the next election.

This quote about President Andrew Jackson provides a good description of a conservative populist. It also explains why President Trump had a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office and why Biden had it removed.

Andrew Jackson helped shape a political philosophy that has rippled through the American political firmament for nearly 200 years. Call it conservative populism—an aversion to bigness in all of its forms, including big government, and a faith in the capacity of ordinary folks to understand and to act upon their own interests. Conservative populism includes a natural aversion to entrenched elites, who always fight back against conservative populists whenever they challenge elite power. Republicans of today who tout the leadership of the last great GOP president, Ronald Reagan, should know they are touting the 20th century’s greatest exponent of Jackson-style populist politics. source

Anything that stresses the relationship between the people and the leaders can result in the creation of a populist movement. In the US, it is usually a result of an economic imbalance between the working class and large corporations resulting from the federal government favoring the corporations. We see this going on now with the Covid-19 lock-downs causing many small businesses to go out of business while big businesses like Amazon and Walmart make record profits. The government is acting in an unfair manner, favoring one set of businesses over another. In some states, there is the additional problem of treating churches more restrictively than other comparable entities.

Populism is often an attempt to correct the economic inequalities resulting from corporations pursuing profits over social responsibility. In the US, populism serves as a safety valve for capitalism, trying to correct the imbalance caused when the government favors big business over the people.

By law, corporations are organized to create profit for stockholders, not to share the profit with workers or to keep manufacturing plants in the US.

The leading statement of the law’s view on corporate social responsibility goes back to Dodge v. Ford Motor Co, a 1919 decision that held that “a business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders.” source

It is up to government to provide the right level of regulation that allows business to be conducted as freely as possible, while at the same time ensuring that the workers are not being taken unfair advantage of. This imbalance has played out over and over again in the US. Often the Democrats will gain power and over-regulate and then the Republicans will gain power and under-regulate. But each has it’s favorites, and these favorites will often receive favorable tax and regulatory policies, creating an unfair competitive environment.

While economics is the primary cause of populism, there is often a cultural component. Here are 2 earlier examples of US populism. The primary causes are economic, but there are secondary cultural causes.

Name Date Ecomic Cultural
Populist Party
1892-1908
Ban on Foreign Land Ownership, State Control of Railroads, Shortened Work Days, Anti-Corruption
Temperance
Ronald Reagan
1981-1989
Reduce Regulations, Limit Federal Power, Tax Cuts
Individual Rights, Public Morality, War on Drugs

Types of Populism

Populism is not considered to be an ideology, but is paired with an ideology such as nationalism, socialism, communism, conservatism, liberalism, constitutionalism, or fascism. Often times it is referred to as left-wing or right-wing populism, but that does not provide a clear description of the movement.

A populist movement is usually led by a charismatic leader such as Ross Perot (United We Stand), Sarah Palin (Associated with The Tea Party), Bernie Sanders (Democrat Socialist), and Donald Trump (MAGA). Trump was the only recent populist to become President. Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party didn’t have an identified leader, although Sarah Palin became one of the Tea Party’s leading spokespeople.

Let’s look at each of these movements.

  • Ross Perot 1992 – Balanced budget, economic nationalism, war on drugs, POW/MIA issue, increased tax on wealthy, trade issues. Populist/Economic/Nationalist

  • Tea Party (2000s) – Small government, lower taxes, fiscal discipline, lower national debt, balanced budget. Sarah Palin best known person associated with the Tea Party. Primarily Republican. Populist/Economic/Conservative

  • Occupy Wall Street (2011) – Anti-corporate, bank reform, economic reform, forgiveness of student loans, income disparity, We Are the 99%. Primarily Democrat. Populist/Economic/Socialist

  • Bernie Sanders (2016, 2020) – Democrat Socialist. Economic inequity, single-payer healthcare, $15 minimum wage, free public college tuition, paid parental leave. Populist/Economic/Socialist

  • Donald Trump (2016, 2020) – Republican. Renegotiate trade agreements, America First, bring jobs back to US, stop illegal immigration (Build the Wall), reduce legal immigration, reduce regulations, non-interventionist foreign policy. Populist/Economic/Nationalist/Conservative

Summary

Populism is the people versus the elites. It occurs when the people believe that they are being treated unfairly by the people in power and they seek to correct this imbalance, often through a Presidential election. Almost always, the imbalance is an economic one, although there may also be cultural issues such as discrimination, free speech, gun rights, and abortion.

Populism is not an ideology, so it takes the form of an ideology such as conservatism, liberalism, fascism, socialism, communism, economics, and nationalism. A populist movement is usually led by a charismatic personality.

Opinion: I have noticed while doing research for this article, that the left will view, for example, tax cuts as a cultural issue because they see it as hurting the poor and the working class, while the right will see it as an economic issue raising everyone’s standard of living. Another example is the southern border wall. The right sees this as a security issue and the left sees it as discrimination against people of color. Where it becomes dangerous is when one side takes a position and the other side unfairly labels it using inflammatory language. The elites will echo this language as a way to discredit and destroy the populist movement. Both sides have been guilty of this.