Are conservatives curmudgeons who want to take away Social Security and Medicare from your grandparents?
Do they even care about people?
What do they believe anyway?
I can’t speak for Old School Conservatism, but new conservatives enjoy a better outlook.
Now is the time to explain the beliefs of New Conservatism with more clarity because people are more receptive to them than they have been for a long time.
The Left’s utopia is disintegrating. Obamacare doesn’t work; taxes are oppressive; entitlements need to be reformed before it’s too late; the giant welfare state is unwieldy and unaffordable; hence, the national debt is unprecedentedly high; government regulations on businesses is very restrictive, so labor participation is at an historic low; and terrorism is on the rise.
In my previous post, I highlighted a key theme. I repeat it here.
Can you spot it?
1. With the right kind of justice, people can grow and develop.
What’s the “right kind” of justice? Let’s use poverty as an example. It’s not fair. So how do we bring justice to the poor?
We’ve pumped billions of dollars into poor communities since LBJ’s 1964 War on Poverty programs. Have you noticed that we still have poor people?
We need another way—or more accurately, we need the old way that works every time.
See the next two points.
2. We believe in the dignity of people working hard.
We care about the 99%.
People want jobs. When people depend on government too much, they lose their virtue to take the initiative. When Clinton, following conservative principles and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996 (welfare reform), millions got off welfare. We even provided training schools for them.
Where are the jobs, though? The next point answers it.
3. The free enterprise system and free-market capitalism offer the most people the most prosperity.
Back in the 1980s, I visited West Berlin and East Berlin. The West glowed with prosperity and enjoyed open, colorful shops, while the East was drab and dreary and lifeless.
In a nighttime satellite photo of Korea, the North suffers in darkness, while the South is lighted up with prosperity.
In an American context, objectors to capitalism bring up the “robber barons” of an earlier time or big corporations stepping on the little guy. But no conservative advocates raw, unfettered capitalism.
Rules need to be fair and and liberating enough to promote growth, not suppress it.
Capitalism, wherever it has settled around the globe, even partially, prospers people.
America is the best example (so far).
4. With low taxes people can keep their own money.
We fought the War of Independence over taxes because at bottom the issue was about individual and local freedom fighting against intrusive government.
Think of a big pile of cash between you on the one side and government bureaucrats on the other. How does it help you when the pile gets snatched by the bureaucrats through high taxes?
Keeping your own money stimulates economic growth and entrepreneurship where you live.
Paradoxically, a government can collect more revenues with lower tax rates. Imagine a small business making $100,000 per year and paying 35% tax. The government gets $35,000. When the tax rate is lowered, say, to 20%, the business keeps its own money and invests and grows over the years. Now it’s making $200,000. The government collects $40,000.
The government allowing people to thrive economically by getting out of the way is a moral act.
5. The intact, traditional family is the social goal, for it’s optimal for people to thrive.
Common sense—which is often superior to academic studies—says that the husband and wife living healthy, happy lives are still better for their biological children than alternative arrangements.
Gender differences matter. That’s how we evolved or were created.
However, the family is undergoing a redefinition. In society nowadays we may have to learn how to help and keep children safe in new family arrangements, as a very small percentage of revisionists insist on their way.
But we’re still quick to promote the traditional family as the optimal institution because it helps an entire nation thrive.
6. We believe in the sanctity of life because we care for preborn children.
We are endeavoring to create a culture of life, in which women gladly choose to carry their babies to full term and then give them up to adoption or keep them, with the voluntary help of institutions like the church. That’s the best kind of pro-choice.
And we don’t believe in abortions of convenience or in the relentless, endless killing apparatus of Planned Parenthood. Handing out pamphlets about safe sex is one thing; harvesting baby organs in a calloused, businesslike manner is another. The government should not support it with our taxes. Let it depend on private donations.
It mystifies us that the Supreme Court found a right to an abortion in the Constitution in Roe v. Wade, so a state may not do as its citizens please according to their own convictions.
However, we have to take legal reality as it currently is. So on a hopeful note, the Roe decision says states may certainly regulate abortions and not allow late term ones.
Therefore, since we can’t completely outlaw abortions, we work to allow abortions only for extremely rare cases like rape or incest, or when the mother is about to die if she gives birth.
But if a liberal, intransigent state permits abortions beyond those three exceptions, we work to push the procedure back as early as possible, before the baby feels pain.
Above all, and to repeat, we work to build a culture that chooses life from the ground up, using persuasion only.
7. We believe in freedom of choice in education because we care for children.
The US has consistently ranked low in achievements among industrial, modern nations. If money solved the problem, the failure would get fixed in a hurry because we have spent billions on schools.
Charter schools and vouchers would give parents freedom to care for their own children and incentivize failing schools to improve, through a healthy competition. As for the teachers unions, there are good people in them, but the leaders need to become reasonable.
Caring for school children is a high priority for new conservatives.
8. Respect for the environment serves people.
I for one am glad we outlawed killing whales, have car emissions standards, and reserved land for National Parks, to cite only those three examples.
However, new conservatives are skeptical that the environmental Left has a balanced outlook.
Without being disrespectful or exploitative to other species, people should come first because that’s how we evolved (we’ve achieved the highest capacities among mammals), or were created in God’s image.
All that new conservatives want are sane and reasonable regulations that don’t slam our economy, which has made our lives so prosperous and happy.
9. Peace through military strength protects people at home and our allies around the world.
Human nature being what it is, the world is built on the need for police. There are many bad neighborhoods in your city. If the police were to disappear, those neighborhoods would get worse.
The same is true of the globe. Bad nations are like bad neighborhoods. If someone doesn’t walk softly and carry a big stick, those nations get worse. Think of 9/11 and other attacks.
In the world as it really is, it is a benefit to advance our own safety, alongside our friends.
But what about American imperialism? Take a look again at the nighttime satellite photo of the Korean peninsula. Our troops are on the Demilitarized Zone. They’re keeping back the darkness. For us, that’s American “imperialism.”
No conservative claims we’ve achieved moral perfection in our foreign policy over the years, but we’re still the best hope. A strong America is a safer world.
10. Releasing the past, being grateful for today, and always moving forward towards a bright future are virtues that make people happy.
Many conservatives are little flag wavers. That turns the Left off. Why?
So many people are bitter about America’s past sins, so they can’t be proud of her today. We new conservatives acknowledge the past, but we are grateful that we live here and now. We want to succeed in the future.
But you don’t have to wave a flag, if you don’t want to, to be a new conservative.
Just be grateful you live in America today, putting aside the bitterness and anger about the past, and be optimistic about the future.
Let’s wrap it up.
The details in these ten points are negotiable. Acknowledged. But at least they give the broad outline of New Conservatism. They’re a great conversation starter.
So did you spot the common theme in each point that separates us from the other conservative brands?
For New Conservatism, it’s all about people and the best kind of justice.
New conservatives believe that their policies help the most people without the gigantic welfare state that keeps people dependent on it, degrading their character.
Helping the most people vote for themselves and believe in themselves is the clearest demonstration of compassion.
So the next time someone asks you why you hold to new conservative principles, you should not feel embarrassed if you tell him, “Because I care for people and justice and their freedom.”
Please read Part 1 of What new conservatives believe.
Updated Sept. 14, 2015:
I adjusted the numbered principles.