‘Puter’s been thinking a lot lately. It’s that time of the year, the beginning of the end of Upstate New York’s interminable season of frozen death. ‘Puter’s got plenty of time to brood, knocking back a Big Gulp or five of vodka and catching up on his backlog of Discovery Channel fish mating clips.
With Election 2020 in full swing, ‘Puter pondered the impact of Trump on conservative political values. Has Trump, as media, Democrats, and the Never Trump diehards claim, destroyed conservative norms? And what are those core, non-negotiable conservative norms in the first place? Is there a list of conservative values around which conservatives can unite?
Conservatism today is much different from the Morning in America Reagan conservatism ‘Puter grew up under. It’s different from the Gingrich/Limbaugh last trench conservatism ascendant in the 1990s. It’s different from the Tea Party conservatism of the 2000s. And it’s different from the conservatism media paints Trump as championing.
‘Puter thinks conservatism and conservatives can and should unite around a few core concepts with which all (or most) agree.
Honoring Rule of Law
Rule of law means each branch of government sticks to its own knitting. Each does the tasks expressly assigned it under the Constitution and no more. Each jealously guards its constitutional authority and fights to protect it from other branches’ overreach. And it means leaving things to the states that ought be left to the states.
Congress negotiates tough issues, compromises where at all possible, acts in good faith, and enacts laws actually getting things done for a change. Congress doesn’t punt hard decisions to executive branch agencies through cop out delegation or wait for things to get so bad the judiciary legislates from the bench.
The executive enforces the laws as written, surely and swiftly. It doesn’t end run Congress with executive orders or novel interpretations of “sex” in the Civil Rights Act, reading it to include sexual orientation and the mental disorder of gender dysphoria. The executive insists Congress authorize in an act of war any extra territorial foreign combat missions wherever possible. It enforces laws as written.
The judiciary refuses to legislate from the bench. It doesn’t magically discover rights emanating from the penumbras. It doesn’t make up things that don’t exist. The judiciary has the humility and self-control to say, “There is no such right recognized in the Constitution so it is up to you to seek redress from Congress who may or may not enact legislation creating the ‘right’ you seek. We will then review as appropriate the new law to ensure Congress acted within its legislative authority, as is our duty.”
For citizens, it means pushing Congress to get rid of dated or useless laws or regulations. It means understanding the fewer the laws there are, the freer we are. It means understanding basic civics and not screaming for government to ignore the Constitution. It means being consistent and understanding that if your side loses but the other side has properly followed the process, you’ve lost. Accept it.
Respecting Current and Future Taxpayers
This is ‘Puter’s attempt to encompass what’s generally called fiscal conservatism. Government should spend what it needs, not a penny more. It must consider the downside to the taxpayers footing the bill for these never-ending programs instead of just considering and fetishizing the benefits to the recipients. Every dollar government spends is a dollar a family somewhere doesn’t have to spend on itself.
It means dealing with fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable borrowing and deficits. This doesn’t mean all borrowing is bad or that running some deficit from time to time is bad. It does mean that decade after decade of profligate spending and insane borrowing even as tax revenues increase year over year is a crime. You’re stealing taxpayers’ current prosperity and preventing future generations from ever achieving the level of prosperity their parents had. You’re eating the nation’s seed corn.
Acknowledging Government Welfare Programs Are A Necessary Evil
This tenet is a tough sell. But Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid ain’t going nowhere, no matter how unconstitutional they were and are. Americans expect these benefits. Americans think of them as birthrights. Conservatives are correct that the programs are Ponzi schemes, but Americans don’t care. The best that can be done is to make the programs affordable and sustainable again.
We need to recognize there is a place for government support of the truly needy. This includes short-term support for the unemployed, short-term food aid, short-term housing aid, etc. The issue comes not in the short-term help but when government decides it needs to be a long-term solution to individuals’ problems. In permitting lifetime reliance on government for the able-bodied, you’re robbing generation after generation of the gifts of self-reliance and self-respect.
Adopt a mend, don’t end approach. Be clear that there is a role for some government welfare. If we don’t, we will be unelectable regardless of whether we are correct in the long run.
Championing the Freest Possible Markets
Get government out of the way of American business. This doesn’t mean complete deregulation. It means considering whether regulations are necessary instead of merely politically desirable. It means significantly reducing or eliminating lobbyist input, especially where industries are angling for anti-competitive or barrier to entry rules and regulations.
It means getting rid of all industry subsidies over time. No more industry specific tax breaks or support programs. No more protectionist tariffs where the international competition is acting in accordance with laws. If our industries can’t compete on equal terms and conditions, they need to get better, not get protected. This doesn’t mean leaving industry unprotected where other nations are rigging the system for their companies, though.
Supporting and Enforcing the Individual Rights of All People
This means decrying abortion and working to limit or eliminate it insofar as possible. Unborn Americans have rights, too.
It means supporting the rights of people to choose whom they want to love and doing so free of harassment or discrimination. In return, the LGBTQ community needs to understand tolerance doesn’t mean acceptance. It means you get to live just as freely as ‘Puter does but not more freely. It doesn’t mean supporting the entire LGBTQ agenda because much of the LGBTQ agenda is for active repression of others’ beliefs.
It means supporting minority communities in their legitimate complaints, many of which should be linked to education and criminal justice in ‘Puter’s humble opinion. It does not mean accepting open borders and unlimited immigration. Illegal aliens aren’t Americans, are breaking our laws, and are stealing money from America’s poor. We have no obligation to illegal aliens other than arresting, trying, and deporting them as swiftly as possible and not abusing them while in custody.
It means speaking up when anti-Semites attack Jews on NYC’s streets, white supremacists publicly advocate for race wars, or antifa asshats violently attack people on Portland’s streets like the brown shirts they are. It means not tolerating cancel culture or engaging in it yourself. It means, as the ACLU used to do before it sold its soul, defending people with whom you vigorously disagree when they’ve been objectively wronged by government or others.
Anyway, that’s enough for now. This was nothing more than an off-the-cuff, poorly thought out brain purge. You’ll disagree, ‘Puter’s sure, with one or more of these, but ‘Puter thinks these principles are a pretty good core for conservatives to unite around.