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What it means to be a conservative

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 11/30/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Cowards, compromisers, and colluders, are words fit to describe the Republican Party and its swelling indifference towards President Clinton’s crimes. Where, pray-tell are all the supposed conservatives, constitutionalists, and unflinching moralists?

There is need for concern. Each new day provides fresh revelations of havoc, both covert and naked, President Clinton wreaks upon the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. Each day the Republican response entails too few cries of outrage, too many careful retractions, too many suggestions that there is “nothing new here,” too many irresponsible, unprincipled deep six burials into the X-File.

It invokes recollection of Whittaker Chambers’ foolish survival plan for modern conservatism. One which summoned conservatives to engage in “a dance along a precipice.” An awakening to come to grips with the terms
of modern realities and to “accommodate the needs and hopes of the masses,” with a series of “maneuvers.” “To live,” Chambers said “is to maneuver.”

How could one better characterize today’s Republican leadership?

It is true that the application of general law to modern reality requires maneuverability; it has always been so, but the rule of law, and the American belief in natural law, requires that the flexibility of

usage not usurp the fixed principle which gave to it life.

William F. Buckley Jr. in his 1959 work, Up From Liberalism, brought home the point. “Modern realities,” do not invalidate conservative
essentials — essentials such as “freedom, individuality, the sense of community, the sanctity of the family, the supremacy of the conscience, the spiritual view of life.” Further, the social and political vortex (of liberalism), which we had irresistibly been drawn into, was not due to the “inadaptability” of conservative fundamentals, but the failure of conservatives to apply them.

Buckley’s plan for conservatives, was what he called a “no-plan,” a no-plan, however, that everyone should adopt. A plan which says “I will not cede more power to the state. I will not cede my power willingly to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the [AFL-CIO]. I

will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power as I see fit. I mean to live my life as an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the political truth arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.”

What a marvelous no-plan for Republicans to anchor themselves to. If it was so, President Clinton, would have been impeached, long ago. For how many times has the President boldly defied Congress and usurped their
authority? How many times has Clinton’s conduct displayed arrogance toward the broad principles of moral conduct embraced by all religions and all civilized nations? How many times has Republican leadership listened to polls instead of the wisdom of their ancestors and their ancestors’ Constitution? Here is where true conservatives should never maneuver.

In 1774 Edmund Burke expounded a principle that is too little understood, believed in, or practiced today. In crucial matters, concerning the whole nation, he would vote his conscience, rather than consult the people of Bristol who had elected him. The principle of Representation doesn’t mean that the people get what they want, but that

they elect who they feel will do the best job. A good representative will listen and perhaps respond to his constituency, providing their requests can be honored within the bounds of Constitutional law. Jefferson affirmed this principle with his “this is a government of laws

and not of men.”

The Republican Party seems to be out of touch with the founding principles of our Republic, out of touch with what it truly means to be a conservative, out of touch with their oath of office. Let them continue to choose to dance along this precipice of tolerance, then it will not be long before license destroys liberty, and tyranny rushes in on its heels. Perhaps, before that day, the apathy of Republicanism will

either signal a third party revolution where principled conservatives may gather, or a reincarnation of the Republican Party, one purged of maneuverers, and packed with statesmen. In regards to the latter, don’t hold your breath!


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