Conserve: to keep from being damaged, lost, or wasted; save.[i]
Conservative is one of those words I use fairly frequently, even in reference to myself. I’m talking about conserving the Constitution and it’s principles of freedom. I’m talking about living the principles that build wealth and spread prosperity, rather than waste or profligacy that lead to poverty. I’m talking about the principles that lead to civilization, away from savagery.
But I’m finding it doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
I started thinking about this after I happened to hear a discussion on Glenn Beck radio last week. He and crew, Pat and Stu, were talking about the Republican candidates (including those not yet officially in the race) and what factions of the party those individuals could satisfy.
Beck is libertarian (which I am not quite), so I shouldn’t expect the same point of view I have, but we agree on so many things, I forget there are differences. But he described the “conservatives” in the party as something other than I would understand.
The discussion followed an interview with Gov. Rick Perry, prior to his announcing a campaign a week or so from now. It was in that interview that Perry recalled a meeting with the president in which he mentioned that National Guard being kept 50 miles from the border wasn’t close enough—and the president turned to Valarie Jarrett and asked if that was the case, because he didn’t know where he had stationed troops. Anyway, that was May 20th, if you have the ability to go hear it.[ii]
After the interview, Glenn and team started discussing the various candidates, and how they attract the various segments of the Republican party. Glenn asserts that there are four boxes:
GB: So, what it is, in one box, you have to have the GOP. That is the one with the most number in it. Establishment. People who just pull the lever for the Republican, no matter who the Republican is. So there are four boxes: one is GOP; one is conservative; one is religious; one is Tea Party/libertarian.
And then Stu asks for a better definition, which gets to the part that I’ve been thinking about:
Stu: Can you explain the distinction, in this particular scenario, what conservative is? Would you say it’s more like a hawkish...?
GB: Fiscal conservative, yeah, hawk. You know, somebody who is…
Stu: What differentiates it from Tea Party?
GB: No. I would say Tea Party is more small government.
At this point they have some discussion about Reagan, that he was conservative, but he wasn’t small government. I took issue with it. Their examples were the border—which was supposed to be the one-time amnesty combined with closing the border, so that the issue would be gone forever. But, since the border wasn’t closed, that amnesty was the example to prevent us from ever giving in again. A learning opportunity. Knowing what we know now, would Reagan today offer amnesty? I don’t think so.
And the other example was that Reagan didn’t get rid of the Department of Education, and the Tea Party/libertarians want to. But they forget—Reagan wanted to; he tried. But he was working with a Democrat Senate and House the whole time he was in office. The measure of whether he was conservative would be, did he do the most conservative things he could get done (like lower taxes, which boosted the economy big time)? And what would he have tried to do with a willing Congress?
And I don’t really relate to the term “hawkish.” Reagan was able to end the Cold War without conventional warfare—because he was willing to fight if needed, and he stood firm. What a concept!
In the end of their discussion of candidates, they decided that two candidates—who are leading in Glenn Beck’s monthly online poll (so, not scientific, but gives you a sense of what his listeners believe)—each fill three of the four boxes. Gov. Scott Walker has the GOP establishment box, the conservative box, and the Tea Party/libertarian box. And Ted Cruz has the conservative box, the religious box, and the Tea Party/libertarian box—but he’s missing the biggest box, the GOP establishment. Which, if you define the bigness of the GOP as “People who just pull the lever for the Republican, no matter who the Republican is,” is irrelevant, because whoever gets the nomination will get those people. What’s really at stake is the fundraising and support of establishment politicians and their supporters. By the way, here in Texas, the GOP loves Ted Cruz; he ran away with the straw poll at the state GOP convention last June.
I understand that it’s a game to measure candidates with these four boxes. But it’s imperfect. I’m a Republican precinct chair, as several members of our local Tea Party are, and I’ve tried to do my civic duty all along. Many Tea Partiers awoke in 2010, when Obamacare got pushed through. I was already awake. Tea Partiers at that point began educating themselves—with more training on the Constitution among regular non-student adults than I’ve ever seen. Maybe more than have studied it on their own since the founding. So Tea Partiers are for small government—because the Constitution is about limited government. So I’m a conservative, religious, Tea Party, GOP-er. Hmm. And I don't think I'm all that rare.
What is a conservative if not for small government, as enumerated in the Constitution? It’s hard for me to picture conservatism without all four boxes—with the possible exception of GOP establishment, although conservatives are totally willing to reform an imperfect party that at least has potential.
|The Political Sphere|
of the Spherical Model
This is where the Spherical Model helps. We don’t need to separate out into local or big government Republicans; the questions that get us to the freedom zone are about the proper role of government and about the proper level (lowest, most local level possible) for any particular issue.
And the economic question is not whether we are pro-business or not; you can’t be a fiscal conservative unless you’re in favor of freeing up the free market. That’s beats crony capitalism or centrally controlled socialist economies every time. A conservative conserves the principles of the free market—which might at times require radical change from the status quo of regulatory tyranny.
People who claim to be fiscally but not socially conservative are not deep thinkers; they cannot get prosperity without civilized people making it possible. Sure, we’ll welcome their vote, but they’re not the leaders toward the world we want.
So then, the social question is, simply: Do you favor civilization or savagery? We know what gets to civilization. A religious people are required, because no one else will self-rule. We self-rule because we live God’s laws, which are higher than our own personal, changeable sense of ethics. God grants us our rights, so without God, the tyrannical leaders grant or take away “rights” at their whim. And our laws reflect our own willingness to live the Ten Commandments: honor and protect family, respect private property, be honest, don’t murder. Without these basics, it really doesn’t matter what you think about race, gender, climate, or some other pet virtue.
You can’t know what good is, if you don’t know who God is; He defines good.
It would be nice to have a better word than “conservative.” I looked up synonyms in a thesaurus, and that was disheartening: cautious, conventional, die-hard, establishmentarian, guarded, hidebound, middle-of-the-road, moderate, quiet, reactionary, right-wing, sober, Tory, traditional, unexaggerated, unprogressive, verkrampte.
I did a Google Translate on that last one; it means cramped. I tried translating “conservative” into German, and it gave me a much kinder cognate: konsesrvativ. Plus some other adjectives that mean essentially, cautious, careful, wary, or prudent, which are at least better than cramped.
So, the thesaurus thinks conservative means something very uncool. I can live with uncool; I pretty much always have. But I don’t like inaccurate.
I could use the Spherical Model shorthand of north on the sphere—and I do. But until the world catches on to this new vocabulary, I will probably keep saying I’m a Constitutional, fiscal, and religious conservative.
I very much prefer the Webster’s definition for conserve, which I used at the top of this piece. I want to conserve our Constitution and the way of life it offers. I want to keep it from being damaged, lost, or wasted. I want to preserve—conserve—the highest freedom, prosperity, and civilization that we have obtained, or return to that pinnacle by repairing the decay we’ve experienced.
I don’t trust that a single elected official, even a president, can undo all the damage. But having someone who loves those things worth preserving is a start. And such a person could inspire many more to work on the challenging restoration. So I won’t be looking for a person who fits enough boxes to win an election; I’ll be looking for a person who understands what’s at stake and loves freedom, prosperity, and civilization as much as I do.