Freedom Conservatism drafts the revival modern conservatism needs
Modern conservatism is facing a crisis of identity. A recent essay published in Law & Liberty highlighted several perceived causes of this struggle, arguing that fragmentation and inconsistencies, misplaced priorities, and philosophical shortcomings have hindered modern conservatism to the point of failure. However lost modern conservatism may seem to some, there is still hope for those willing to commit to the cause of freedom.
This summer, numerous organizational leaders across the United States, including university leaders, non-profit leaders, leaders in journalism, and leaders in political organizations, drafted and signed Freedom Conservatism: A Statement of Principles. The statement sends a strong message to conservative figures that timeless principles can, and should, be applied to the current problems in society and politics. The Statement of Principles provides a refreshing return to core values of conservatism and individual liberty. Freedom Conservatism believes that the application of these principles will ensure that America's best days are still in front of her.
The Statement marks a return to core values that unite conservatives: individual freedom, limited government, and the rule of law. Re-emphasizing these central beliefs brings a unifying vision to a fragmented movement, starting with the tenets that conservative factions share.
The seventh principle, "Out of many, one," specifically speaks to decentralizing power and empowering local communities, emphasizing the importance of cohesive local action as a critical support to the nation's constitutional foundation. Localizing and decentralizing government would be a step in the right direction toward limiting the scope and power of the federal government.
The Law & Liberty essay states that conservatism has "misdiagnosed the issues and adopted the wrong policies," indicating that modern conservative leaders are out of touch with the needs of localities and the policies the population cares about. The structure of the Statement places emphasis on foundational elements of personal and economic freedom. Adhering to these principles will help the conservative movement remain focused on the issues and policies that matter: ensuring free enterprise, fiscal responsibility, and the rule of law. The principle of "America's promissory note" further acknowledges historical injustices and emphasizes expanding opportunity for all, ensuring that the conservative movement also addresses issues that society is currently debating while maintaining its core values.
The Statement also resolves the concerns of those who take issue with modern conservatism's intellectual and philosophical shortcomings. The principles draw from both historical context and forward-looking commitments, showing sincere thought in America's past, her present, and the desired future of those in the conservatism movement. The nods to historic injustices show a capacity for nuance and an understanding of American society. The principle of "Freedom of conscience" paired with an emphasis on the First and Fourteenth Amendments affirms a strong commitment to individual rights and intellectual freedom.
Conservatives everywhere should unite under the Statement of Principles as it provides a well rounded philosophical grounding for the movement on pertinent contemporary issues.
The power of the written word is historically unifying, and one need not look farther than our own national history to see evidence of this. The Declaration of Independence brought together colonies to oppose an overreaching government. The Articles of Confederation set a baseline that led our nation to a constitutional convention. The Statement of Principles can serve as an effective tool to address the issues plaguing modern conservatism and a banner that leaders can rally under. By returning to core values and addressing modern challenges, the statement lays a foundation for modern conservatism to build upon.
The Statement of Principles provides hope for those disheartened by the disarray in the conservative movement. Now it's up to conservatives across the nation to embrace the statement and its philosophy and to begin impacting their own communities.
Parker McCumber is an entrepreneur, U.S. Army veteran, and contributor for Young Voices who specializes in economics, international affairs, and firearms policy. You can follow Parker on X, formerly Twitter, at @Parker_McCumber.
Image: Freedon Conservatism.