The Diversity of Conservatism

The Republican presidential debate process makes clear the true diversity of conservatism.  When the left talks of "diversity," it means diversity of identity: blacks speaking for blacks, women speaking for women, Hispanics speaking for Hispanics.  But even here, the left is not diverse at all. 

Look at everyone who has been considered at one time or another during this campaign season to have been a serious potential candidate for the Democrat nomination: Clinton, Sanders, Warren, Biden, and Kerry.  All four Democrats are very rich (Socialist Sanders is simply well off), and all five of these folks have spent their whole adult lives "working" in politics or law.  All five also live in the hothouse environment of the Beltway, where no one drills for oil or grows crops or builds trucks.

The contrast with the Republican field is stark.  At the last Republican debate, half of the candidates were women or members of minority groups.  Two of the eight were physicians; two of the eight were business executives; and five of the eight – Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Fiorina – came from very humble backgrounds.  These eight also live in places scattered around the nation – Florida, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky, New York, and Virginia.

The real difference in diversity, however, is in the diversity of ideas and policies.  The rhetoric of Hillary and Bernie is virtually identical, and both are saying exactly the same things that the left was saying twenty years ago.  There is never any serious reflection that what has been tried and failed ought to be modified or even rejected.  The dull, gray, silly theories of socialism are still clung to reflexively by the left.

What about conservatives?   The men and women who have sought the Republican nomination debate real issues before the American people.  What is the best way to reform the tax code – Flat tax on income?  Federal consumption tax?  Elimination of capital gains taxes?  Senator Rubio made a passionate case that the tax code ought to help families, while Senator Paul warned that picking and choosing what is good opens the door to mischief.

What ought America's role to be in the world?  Should we include defense spending in cuts to federal spending?  Which ought to be more important, civil liberties or rigorous use of surveillance in counter-terrorism?  Should we expand free trade or protect our businesses from unfair trade practices?  Should we talk to a bad guy like Putin?

Conservatism is truly a "big tent" in that it allows hearty debate and real argument.  America was founded on conservatism, which means that the primary role of government is to protect liberty – but anyone familiar with the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, or the early political battles of the American Republican knows that men like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Adams had sharp differences over how best to accomplish the end of protecting liberty.

Was it a good or a bad idea to pass as the first ten amendments, our Bill of Rights?  Should America have a strong fleet or keep federal spending low?  Should the federal government protect the individual rights of citizens from state governments, or are states the best guardian of those liberties?  What sort of jurisdiction over state governments should federal courts have? 

In these and many other debates, there were honest and impassioned arguments on which men who embraced liberty as the highest purpose of government could disagree.  Only conservatives have this sort of real discussion today.  This point ought to be brought home to Americans, who want real change.

Why is this so?  The left has created a vast army of paid supporters who depend upon leftist governance for their daily bread.  While conservatives have pointed this out at the bottom of leftism, with unmarried mothers living on welfare, these are small potatoes.  The real "soldiers" are public school teachers, civil service bureaucrats, lawyers (especially trial lawyers), college professors, labor union functionaries, and a host of other well off folks who contribute, really, nothing to the economy or their countrymen. 

Conservatives, on the other hand, are people who support liberty because it is moral and who embrace Judeo-Christian values because these are right and who work actually creating wealth in America instead of consuming it in wasteful or even useless jobs.  This accounts for the genuine independence in thought America is seeing in the Republican presidential debates.

Do we want diversity?  Then first embrace conservatism.