"How can conservatives say they are against the government meddling in everything, yet many want the very same government to declare abortion illegal?"
Nebraskan conservatives owe the writer of this quote thanks. He perfectly captures the contradiction involved in talking about wanting freedom and individual liberty while seeking to ban a use of such principles. To thank him is easier than you'd think. He's Attorney General Jon Bruning.
Once a liberal law student, Bruning's now a far-right Republican running for the Senate.
However, this isn't about Bruning.
This is about what it means to be a conservative in today's society.
The backbone of conservatism is a rightful fear of hasty change. As conservative scholar Russell Kirk once said:
Hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
The sexy term of the day in American politics is "progress." Everything about the current system is bad. We have to make progress happen in order to be a better society. We should stop at nothing.
Commercials on late-night TV tell you a pill can make you slim without diet or exercise. Politicians preach a similar vision. Everything will be better if you just submit to progress. That claim simply isn't true.
It especially isn't true when said by a representative of the party who claims to hold conservative principles. For decades, the GOP has stood against revolutionary progress. It has rightly pointed out change isn't always for the better, and even when changes are needed the GOP has worked to ensure that such changes are incremental and cautious.
The Republican Party, once a paragon of conservatism, is now just as radical as the progressive Democratic Party. That's bad for conservatives. That's worse for our nation's political system.
As a result of the absence of conservatism in Washington, D.C., we have a public debt larger than our GDP. We have wars we can't afford. We have accepted the idea that government should bear the cost of healthcare, education and retirement. We acquiesce to more government power. We ignore the shameless lack of respect for the United States Constitution.
Conservatism is about preserving the best aspects of our society. Today, a truly conservative party would slow down efforts to crush capitalism. A conservative GOP would focus less on sex than on basic rights. A GOP that gave a damn about the most important document in American history would protest undeclared wars and presidents who believe they're above the law.
Right now, the GOP and Congress are broken. That doesn't require starting from scratch or reinventing the wheel. When something's broke, you fix it.
Conservatives need to reclaim our GOP from radicalism. We need to demand caution instead of revolution. We need to prioritize the rights of individuals ahead of government. We need to reintroduce responsibility to our nation's capital.
Most of all, we need to make the truth matter once again. President Barack Obama has constructed a house of cards in Washington, D.C. He wants you to believe raising taxes on the rich and passing more regulations is enough to solve our nation's woes. It isn't.
The GOP wants you to believe cutting taxes and raising defense spending will solve our problems. It won't.
To right our financial ship will require across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts. Don't consider Social Security and Medicare your primary retirement options. There is no guarantee they'll still be solvent.
Americans need to get over this new idea that people are entitled to free things from their government. Nothing is free. The list of things you are entitled to from your government is conveniently spelled out in a piece of paper called the Bill of Rights.
Our nation needs grown-ups in charge of Washington, D.C. We need to tell the truth to our taxpayers. We need to respect law and work to preserve the best of our institutions and traditions. Our nation's political system may be imperfect, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We are blessed to live in a nation founded upon the highest ideal: political equality. In the United States, people can have a reasonable certainty of living their lives in peace while coming together to solve collective problems. That's neither conservative nor progressive nor liberal.
At its best, America is an oasis of respect for human dignity. It's a beacon of light in a confusing and frightening world. It's an example worthy of emulation. Ronald Reagan understood that in the 1980s. The Soviet Empire collapsed. Let's not join them in the graveyard of empires.
Freedom and liberty are more than just words. Basic rights, honest political discourse and limited government are the best of the conservative tradition. Our nation needs an Edmund Burke rather than a Rick Santorum. We need a William Howard Taft rather than a Mitt Romney. We need conservatives.
Demand caution and prudence from your representatives. Get out and read those constitutions. Hold true to principle above party.
Reclaim our GOP.
Justin Green is a Senior Political Science major from Sutton, NE. Read his blog at HuskerRed.tumblr.com. Tweet him at @BearGreenZ. Email him at email@example.com.