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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The classic liberal and traditional conservative

Mike Shaner

What is a traditional conservative? That’s me. I hold a very conservative view of the Constitution. I believe the founders said exactly what they meant to say. I agree with Jefferson that we should not render the Constitution meaningless through construction. Congress must act within the guidelines of article I section 8. In other words, I am a traditional conservative because I believe that people should be allowed to consume any thing they choose, marry whomever they choose, and be allowed to travel any place they choose. So being conservative means I am anti prohibitionist, support homosexual rights, and favor open borders. Not your dad’s conservative huh? More like your great great granddad. I also favor bringing home our troops from all over the world and drastically cutting the defense budget. I can picture the blood boiling in some of you reading this. I imagine you are screaming to yourself or anyone who will listen that I must be some kind of Liberal. You are correct. I am a classic liberal.

I believe in individual rights and civil liberty. I am a classic liberal because I believe a person has the right to protect himself, to keep the money he earns, to hire or fire an employee for any reason he chooses, and to not be forced to purchase or not purchase a service or good such as health insurance. “Wait a minute,” you say, “this guy is trying to tell us that he is a liberal because he supports gun ownership, is against affirmative action, against income taxes, and against nationalized health-care?” That’s right. That is exactly what I’m telling you. I also think we should abolish all federal institutions that are unconstitutional such as the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security should also be abandoned.  While we are at it, we should end farm subsidies, foreign aide, and all federal regulations on businesses that do not make inter state commerce regular. “Some liberal,” you must be saying. “More like a Republican extremist!” Well, let’s examine that.

How can I call myself a classic liberal if I support repealing the federal income tax? The more appropriate question is how could anyone be labeled a liberal who does not?  By imposing a tax on income, the government is suggesting it owns your body and the labor it produces. This does not sound like something an advocate of liberty could support. That sounds more like something a statist would promote. I believe a person has a natural right to keep the money he earns.

At some point, society became confused and began to define civil liberties as protecting a person from what someone else might do in the future, as opposed to the real meaning-- allowing an individual to make his own choices and then fail or succeed based on those choices. What is terrifying is that this horrible new definition has been expanding in recent years. Now, Progressives not only want to protect us from potential employers, neighbors, and Christmas parade organizers, but they have gone so far as to tell us we must be protected from ourselves. We need to be told what foods to eat, what books to read, and what movies to see. This is the price that we pay when we give up liberty for protection. And it applies to both side of the aisle.

As a constitutional conservative how could I support something so expressly unconstitutional as the Patriot Act or the War on Drugs? It is my conservatism and faith in the founders’ vision that allows me to unwaveringly support the rule of law written into the Constitution. I believe that man’s rights are granted by his Creator. This includes men of all skin tones and of all tongues. If our rights are granted to us by a government, they can easily be taken from us by a government. If our rights are natural to us as I believe they are, then liberty can be taken from us by no one. Everything begins and ends with liberty.

Republicans claim to be “conservative” but with the notable exception of a small handful, they believe in increasing government interference in our lives at every turn. Republicans justify unconstitutional thefts of liberty by using the mask of protection. Ben Franklin was wise enough to warn us not to fall for such a trick: “If a person were to trade essential Liberty for temporary protection; he would inevitably lose both and deserve neither.” Sadly, 300 years later, his warning seems to fall on deaf ears. On a daily basis, I see Republicans shouting from the rooftops about government over-reach and respecting the Constitution but when someone mentions the Patriot Act or points out that the federal government has no Constitutional authority to prohibit drug use or make laws regarding religion (think: mosques), they turn red with anger.

Democrats mostly acknowledge that they have no regard or respect for Constitutional authority yet the hypocrisy is just as evident. They claim they believe in civil liberties yet abhor free speech if it is politically incorrect. What they truthfully want is a nation of sheep who will yield all liberties to a government that cannot effectively run a post office.  Democrat’s will mostly acknowledge that consenting adults should be able to engage in sexual or drug related activity as long as it doesn’t harm others but notice the fangs come out when some one chooses to use his personal freedom for an act they find offensive. The problem with forced tolerance is that it must be intolerant to someone. This intolerance is usually forced on the group with the most unpopular opinion. Ironically enough, it is the minority that becomes oppressed under this politically correct doctrine of forced tolerance. The same is true with welfare programs and every other form of “social justice” that is destroying this Republic. You cannot claim to support individual liberties when you believe it is morally acceptable for the government to help one person by robbing another.

The message here is for consistency and honesty in debate. If you believe the government knows better how to run one’s private life than the individual himself, then say that. Just don’t argue that you want government out of our lives when in the same breath you are asking it to legislate your view of morality. It is foolish to brand yourself a constitutionalist while advocating unconstitutional wars. It is silly to condemn Obama-Care as unconstitutional while championing the Patriot Act as vital and necessary.

It is admirable to stand up for the rights of those who are discriminated against. It is noble to fight for the right to speak and act freely. It is hypocritical to assume people should be able to speak freely as long as you agree with them. It is silly to assume that people have the right to act freely except in economic situations. It is ridiculous to say that I should be allowed to pay a prostitute but forced to pay an insurance company. It is counter-intuitive to suggest I can distribute pornographic or sacrilegious images but can not use the term Christmas in public. The great thing about this country is that we have a right to be offensive. If we start excluding people based on race or religion from the right to be offended, we are setting a dangerous precedent. It is through the philosophy of individualism that racism can be eradicated.

So Republicans want less government in most economic areas, but not all. They still won’t allow you to purchase some products (Marijuana) or services (prostitution). Perhaps they know better than me what I should do with my body.  Democrats want less government in some private areas, but not all. They still believe they have the right to tell you what subjects your children must learn in school (sex-ed.) They also believe they have the right to distribute your earnings and tell you what to eat and how to speak in public.

Where is the consistency? It is found in Article I Section 8, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. It is found in the principles of traditional Conservatives like Madison and classic Liberals like Jefferson. If you truly believe in civil liberties and the rights of individuals and are fed up with the WWE mentality of Democrats versus Republicans, perhaps you are a classic liberal like me. Maybe you believe in the Constitution and the rule of Law. You want the government to be kept in check and realize that they are public servants, not public masters. If this is the case, then you could be a traditional conservative like me.

Other articles you may like:

A Tale of Two Elections: Historic or Unimportant


Simply voting out Obama is not the solution


Who Will Watch The Watchmen?

A call to arms: Tyranny and Nullification


Saving California: What made her great and why she is dying


Also visit the Ron Paul Page




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