The Value-Driven Conservatism of July 4
The Fourth of July is the perfect time for conservatives to recall that we hold to our positions – or at least that we should hold to them – not because conservative principles will help the economy or make us safer or cause government to operate more effectively.
Markets do produce prosperity in ways that statism does not – but Adam Smith, who pioneered this notion, did not publish his Wealth of Nations until after our Declaration of Independence. It is a happy byproduct of our love of liberty that liberty helps create wealth, but the men who signed the Declaration of Independence often condemned themselves and their families to poverty because of their value-driven conservatism.
The way to get rich quick today is to slavishly champion the most awful leftist lies and then rake in money from government awards, contracts, tax-exemption, and the like, or to become a lazy professor writing expensive textbooks that trapped students have to buy…and so on. (We all know leftists’ obsession with easy money.)
Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence, and even more the men and muskets of unpaid, ordinary Americans who fought the world’s first superpower, the British Empire, certainly were not fighting to be safer. Those not killed or crammed into ghoulish prison boats or maimed knew that a noose awaited them if their cause lost, as most people thought it would.
Beyond that, the new United States faced hostile Indians, Barbary pirates, and war with Britain...which did not finally end with Britain chastened enough to leave us alone after the calamitous British losses in the post-peace treaty Battle of New Orleans, 39 years after the Declaration of Independence. Independence deprived Americans of the Royal Navy and the vast reach of British protection.
Our Declaration of Independence could not be said to make government work better, either. Our Continental Congress was a loose, illegal group that printed worthless paper money that was “not worth a Continental” and that was as often as not on the run from British armies. During our War of Independence, it might fairly be said that there was no real government in the rebellious colonies, and the Constitution was 13 years away.
What drove the founding of our nation and all the blood and carnage, all the financial ruin, and all the administrative chaos that inevitably followed such a long rebellion was value-driven conservatism. This, of course, is what is precisely missing from conservatism – or at least the pseudo-conservatism spouted by so many Republican hopefuls – today.
Will the right Republican “get the economy going again”? Germans who voted for Hitler sought the same objective (of course, with different means and methods), and Hitler – horrific as it sounds – “succeeded” to a large extent in lifting Germans out of poverty. Prosperity is not a primary political goal unless we wish to sell our souls.
Will the right Republican make us safe again? The last fourteen years of war ought to make clear that our brave men in arms can win battles and our police can kill terrorists, but the problem is the fundamental Judeo-Christian values on which our nation is founded, not weapons or even courage.
Why are so many young Americans drawn to radical Islam? The antidote, belief in a Loving Creator who answers all the troubling questions of angry souls, has been cast aside or even mocked. We see in largely atheistic Europe just what happens after that. Godless Sweden is now the “rape capital of the West” as young Muslim men act to enforce an Islamic dress code upon a nation in which nothing is sacred.
Value-driven conservatism is the answer to our nation’s problems – it is, indeed, the answer to the world’s political problems – but unless the moral nature of this philosophy is pushed with the bold and unapologetic clarity of our Founding Fathers in 1776, our nation and the world face a grim, shadowy future.