Mike Church asked me to prepare a talk for his national radio program. He asked me to give the speech that I would have given had I been invited to speak at CPAC on the state of conservatism in America today. My initial reaction was: Who cares what I have to say about the state of American conservatism?
I wondered, instead, what Conservatism (incarnated as a principle or an ideal) would want to say to the members of CPAC. Here is the result of my thought experiment:
Something beautiful, sad, unexpected, and miraculous happened today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Conservatism appeared at the meeting and spoke for nearly ten minutes.
Dressed in a brilliant white gown, Conservatism blinded all of the conference attendees, panel members, celebrities, and speakers when she appeared at the main entrance in a flash of light. Conservatism made her entry right at the end of a heated panel discussion: Bipartisanship ... Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
Many CPAC members fell to their knees and begged forgiveness as Conservatism made her way to the podium. "Compassionate Conservatives" were turned into pillars of salt as she walked through the crowd. Religious bigots, who last year had made theological nitpicking the center of the presidential campaign, were struck deaf and dumb.
Conservatism stood at the podium, lifted her shining arms, and the entire building shook. This is what she said:
"Thank you for inviting me here today. I am rarely invited anywhere these days. Of course, this does not bother me ... nor does it matter in the least. I exist in principles of truth. I do not die and my principles do not change. You ignore me at your peril ... not mine."
At this early point in her speech, several leading members of the Republican National Committee, all of whom were sitting in the back of the room, tried to crawl beneath their chairs to an emergency exit. Conservatism blinked. The RNC members were turned into tiny white mice.
"You ignore me at your peril not mine," Conservatism repeated. "There seems to be some confusion in this room about who and what I am. I will make it clear for you: I am common sense. I am the truth of the market and the real world. I survive in even the most evil of regimes. I existed in the black market under Soviet communism. I existed with the maquis in France under fascism.
"I am not compassionate, I am patient. I am hard work and its eventual reward. I am the unreserved sharing that comes from a freely created surplus -- not confiscation through bureaucratic intervention and force.
"My enemy is not socialism. Given time, I always overcome the power of the state ... because I am the free collective power of individuals acting to buy and sell, and to provide goods and services, from one to another. My enemies are sloth, greed, bigotry, ignorance, lawlessness, and ... fate."
Conservatism shivered slightly as she mentioned the word "fate." The walls of the convention center trembled and ceiling tiles fell like rain on the audience. She continued:
"My right hand is freedom. The freedom to think, to act, and to speak the truth."
Conservatism raised her right hand and several members of the Main Stream Media who were reporting on the conference melted like wax.
"My left hand is private property. The absolute right to keep or trade such things as human beings invent, create, cultivate, and harvest by the sweat of their brows."
Conservatism raised her left hand and nearly every elected Republican official in attendance hid his or her face in shame.
"But this is not why I have come here today. As I said, I have nothing to fear. No policy or legislation can harm me. You may stand by as industries are socialized and economies bankrupted ... but this does not harm me. You may even convince yourselves that a little socialism is good for America; that no child is left behind when the central government controls education; that the elderly, no matter how wealthy, should not have to pay for their medications; or, as some in this country believe, that the government owes them medical treatment and a home. You may even allow liberals to drive me away for years, perhaps even a few decades. But they cannot destroy me.
"America will invite me back. I live without America; but America cannot live, for long, without me. As some in this room understand, government cannot, over an extended period of time, feed all of you, clothe all of you, house all of you and heal your wounds. I can.
"Government does not inspire you (although it may try to force you) to achieve, to create, to invent, to explore, to invest in the future. I do.
"I hope that this much is clear: I am not here on my behalf. I do not need even CPAC's support or acknowledgment. My principles exist whether or not they are recognized by this, or any other, audience.
"I do not need to be here to defend myself. I am here because of my heart ... for my heart ... my heart is the Constitution...." Conservatism wept and the earth shuddered beneath her. "I am here for the Constitution. I am here because America is breaking my heart."
There was a stunned silence in the room. Many members of CPAC remembered who they were, and why they had gathered, and they began to cry too.
Conservatism's voice rose like thunder:
"You have not done enough to protect and defend the Constitution. You have broken my heart. And because of this ... America will suffer."
There was a flash like lightening. A deafening clap of thunder rocked the auditorium. Conservatism vanished. And the members in attendance at CPAC asked themselves, "Have we done all that we can do to protect our Constitution and to preserve our republic?"Audio version
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved. His memoir, Underground: Life and Survival in the Russian Black Market, has just been released.