Spending some time on the campaign trail has confirmed a couple of thoughts I’ve had before I entered the Republican primary race.
First, conservatism is alive and well in America; don’t let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don’t mean the warmed-over “raise your hand if you believe …” kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I’m speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition. The understanding that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things when not subjugated by a too-powerful government. These are the principles that inspired our Founding Fathers, and resulted in a Constitution that delineated the powers of the central government, established checks and balances among the branches of government and further diffused governmental power by a system of Federalism.
Second, change – whether it “real change,” “bold change” or the “change we can believe in” variety others are selling – isn’t itself an innovative policy or a particularly strong leadership stance. In fact, from Burke to Buckley, there has been an acknowledgement that change in the political arena is inevitable and necessary, and we in the U.S. tend to experience it in regular, 2, 4 and 6 year intervals, so 2008 is hardly our first rodeo. The challenge for conservatives is calibrating whether the change being proposed is consistent with our principles and our philosophy, and whether that change is appropriate.
Be sure to read the whole thing, and check out the Townhall magazine.