Conservative Versus Liberal, From a Conservatives Viewpoint
One of the main tenets of conservatism is the belief that history and culture inform the present. We have just inaugurated a new president and have seen the U.S. Congress now controlled by a single party. The president is a liberal/progressive as are those around him, as well as a majority of Democrats in Congress. Why is this a problem? To begin with, unlike conservatives, liberals do not look at history and they seem to be at war with American culture. To that end, they are more concerned with the Here and Now regardless of how it affects the future. Their concern with the Here and Now blinds them to cause and effect which drives their solutions to be based on emotional or political reasoning and to be short-term.
Conservatism looks at smaller answers that do not shake the foundations of society or go against the prevailing culture. Which is the better way to govern, quick and short term, or slow and steady? Not to highlight my nerdiness but in one of the Star Wars movies Luke asks Yoda if the dark side was stronger, his answer was “No, no, no…Quicker, easier, more seductive.” People will always look for a quick solution, take the easy path, and be seduced by ideas that sound good, except on close examination. What history has taught however is the path to dictatorship runs on quick and easy solutions. That the masses can be seduced by the sound of feel-good ideas if it is coupled with an enemy, is something that must be examined and understood.
While the country was reeling from the impact of COVID-19, liberals stood firm, for eight months, in their position to block any relief to negatively impact the re-election of Donald Trump. After a riot that took place on Capitol Hill and idiots waving Trump flags broke into the Capitol building, it took seven days for the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to draw up and vote on an article of impeachment. On January 25th, the article of Impeachment was delivered to the U.S. Senate. The single article is “incitement of insurrection.” This is a very serious charge but wholly unprovable. There is no evidence that Donald Trump ever called on his supporters to violently march on the U.S. Capitol. In fact, he said to peacefully protest. So, we see two problems, one an emotional overreaction and a move toward thought police. As stated, history drives the future, and a failure to understand the underlying philosophies that were used to set up the United States makes it difficult to understand what the problems are today.
Our Founding Fathers were students of political thinkers such as Locke and Hobbes, and contemporary writers such as Edmond Burke. They were also students of history and understood the success and failures of past political systems.
While the Declaration of Independence showed Jefferson’s liberal thinking, the father of the Constitution, James Madison, believed in a strong central government, fearing that the government could become too strong, thus the separation of powers. Beyond Madison was the more conservative Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton having learned from European history the horror of an unrestricted government he argued in Federalist 84 for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights limiting the power of the government over the people and the individual States. As is well known, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech as well as the right to peacefully assemble. This brings us back to some of the major problems we see today in liberal governing philosophy.
Going back to the current impeachment trial. The charge against the former president is that, through his words, it is perceived that he incited a crowd to march on the U.S. Capitol in an act of insurrection.
Without direct evidence, the U.S. Senate will be trying Trump for his words, which without direct evidence of calling for an insurrection should be considered protected speech. Here again, we see an example of short-term thinking as well as an emotional response, without concern for how this will affect the future. This is a violation of First Amendment protection of free speech as well. It also strikes at the right to peaceful assembly, since most of the people at the “Stop the Steal” rally did not march on the Capitol. It also violates Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution which states, “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.” This then is an argument against the Senate trial. We are seeing some Senators, such as Tim Kane (D-VA) arguing for nothing more than censoring the former president.
It is obvious that liberals move quickly to find the easiest short-term solution. Are conservatives the direct opposite? According to the famous American conservative, William F. Buckley, “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’” I am not sure if it is truly ‘stop’ but at least slow down.
As a country, we need to use history, reason, and our founding philosophies and continue to move forward at a pace that does not destroy the country.