However, this process is resulting in a standard that is raising the conservative bar so high that no one seems to be able to pass the test. But the truth is that except for Ron Paul, and perhaps Jon Huntsman, each of the candidates is a conservative — at least by the measure most of us have historically used.
To be a conservative means: (1) belief in local control over federal control, (2) lower taxes, since people are entitled to keep as much of their earnings as possible. After all, it is their money and not something belonging first to the government for redistribution and hostage to how much Barak Obama and Democrats decide one is able to keep of his earnings, (3) a respect and admiration for business and profit, for it advances the economic parameters of society, provides us with updated goods and services, and facilitates the characteristics that create individual responsibility, (4) strong defense and alliances with those countries, such as Israel and Australia to name a few, that share our historic values, (5) less regulation of our lives, (5) patriotism and the belief in the general goodness and exceptionalism of America, (6) a moral compass that sees the Judeo-Christian ethos as singularly American, one that does not wish to govern according to the minutia of religion but regards and respects its overarching principles, and belief in God.
All of the candidates subscribe to these principles in contrast to what guides liberals. Ron Paul’s foreign policy, his indifference to our moral standards, and his discomfort with America’s goodness makes him unqualified– he is a libertarian, not a conservative. He would not protect us from radical Islam. A commander-in-chief who does not protect the people is unworthy of being President. He claims the mantle of Constitutionalism, but there is no Founding Father or Framer of the Constitution that is his ideological kinsman.
The problem with McCain involved character. Though a hero in war, he was disloyal to those who made him our standard-bearer and turned on us instead of the Democrats. He has, and still has, a great need to be loved by the mainstream, liberal media, an addiction that began, I asume, as a consequence of the media hailing him a hero decades ago. I don’t see any of the existing candidates afflicted by that syndrome and lack of loyalty.
We have seen opinion-shapers on our side call Newt Gingrich a closet “socialist”. This is absurd. There are those who label Rick Perry a “statist” because he signed a bill allowing the state of Texas to provide vaccinations against cervical cancer. That, too, is absurd. Parents could opt out if they so wanted. Besides, one of the greatest achievements during my youth was the provision of polio vaccines to those of us in school during the 50s. That is something to be proud of, just as flying to the moon was a great national achievment.
Others calim that one is not a conservative unless they agree to outlaw abortion from the moment of conception. Wrong. A conservative respects life and the unborn and is against wholesale abortion and against abortion anytime for any trumped-up reason. That is an overarching religious theme. However, deciding to legislate from the time of conception is getting into theologics, the issue of soul. Our God-fearing forebearers, all very religious throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, did not require government to forbid abortion from the moment of conception. They spoke of Quickening — an early second tri-mester event when the fetus had gone from a life-form to a human being. They showed respect for the unborn, but knew to stay away from theology and the issue of when the soul enters the baby.
People have crticized Newt for pondering whether solar panels in the sky would help our energy situation. Newt was not, like those on the left, disparaging the continued need and exploration for oil, coal, gas, nuclear, etc. But why not ponder possibilities? We can not become so orthodox in our conservatism that we rigidly confine ourselves to thinking only in the box. We can’t become the new anti-Galileo-ists.
During this primary season I’ve been reminded how among the clergy and the faithful we often hear that our preacher or rabbi is more religious than yours, that we are more faithful to the doctrine than the next guy. But conservatism is a political philosophy, not a creed contest. It has certain principles, but it should not become doctrinaire and apply picayune litmus tests.
I understand the fear we have of being, once again, McCainized. Our fear regarding the true character and reliability of our candidates is valid. But the road and search regarding loyalty and character can’t be satisfied by upping- the-ante or ever-higher proofs of real conservatism. We should not confuse the two. Let’s not re-define conservatism, nor degenerate into an orthodoxy that will stifle the light of conservatism and make into something for the rigid and small-minded only.That would be an historic mistake.