Posted by: Ted | February 1, 2010

Constitutionally Principled Conservative Governance:

For me Constitutionally Principled Conservative Governance represents the following: 

Conservatism is a principle which existed long before our constitution was penned.  Our founding fathers stood on the shoulders of the giants from past generations of conservative thinkers in their application of those principles to construct the foremost governing instrument of freedom that mankind has ever conceived.  Therefore, this presentation is a summary of conservative thought provided from the writings of Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke, the principles outlined in the Bill of Rights and the U. S. Constitution to provide my prospective for current governing actions.

Constitutionally Principled Conservatism:

As with any change, often referred to as progress, there is a flip side of the coin which often goes unnoticed until it is too late and we experience the unintended consequences.  It is for that reason that most change should occur slowly and methodically as opposed to radically.  The key to quality change comes with prudence and openness.  The society we have is based on our standing on the shoulders of giants, past generations, who undertook change to bring us to where we are and while things might be different now, human nature is not.  It is prudent to be skeptical of losing the heritage bequeathed to us through the knowledge of past generation, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise.

Conservatives do not see nor aspire to someone’s idea of a utopian paradise, clinging instead to the customs, norms and traditions that have been achieved through the wisdom of the ages.  Recognizing that there is no perfected past or perfectible future our best source of true wisdom is passed to us from our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers.  That human trait existed then, much the way we hope to pass wisdom and knowledge to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,  living within the foundations of natural law and human nature.  That is not to say that conservatives do not welcome change but they do so with the prudence and openness that allows for rational change where all interested parties may have their will be known and considered.

Conservatism is not about a political ideology but about individual beliefs in a moral order, a strong sense of right and wrong, personal convictions about justice and honor and a person who applies these conservative principles as opposed to merely being labeled as such.  A society is about people, and people who are morally adrift, ignorant of norms and intent chiefly upon self gratification will be a bad society no matter how many people vote and no matter what type of political machinery is in place.

A conservative is one who weighs the consequences of his actions, giving heed to the unintended consequences his actions might cause which are potentially worse than the perceived evils being swept away.  Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.   Change – always necessary given the evils lurking within the human condition – should occur cautiously. This notion does not exclude rapid change, especially in cases of clear infringements upon human dignity, but opposes change based on sentimental theory.

The radical ideologists holds out the hope of equity for all but the truth is that complete equity comes only at the Last Judgment and the only time humans can hope for equity from their fellow man is before a just court.  Any attempt to provide equity in other areas of society will lead to enhanced equity for some and servitude for the masses.  Man is imperfect and to attempt to achieve a perfect society is both unjust and dangerous to those lured into such an unrealistic endeavor.

The great leap forward for humankind came with the institution of private property.  With private property came the culture that allowed mankind to rise about the level of mere drudgery.  To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labor; to be able to see one’s work made permanent; to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one’s own.  The conservative acknowledges that the possession of property brings with it certain obligations along with the advantages, moral and legal obligations he cheerfully accepts.

In a spirit of community, the conservative willingly shares with those in true need with the expectation of nothing more than they will work to overcome their situation to the best of their ability.  They do not subscribe to a distant political entity with the power to brandish coercive force to make decision for them or to impost their morality on others.  When a decision impacting the lives of the citizens must be made, it should be done locally to the extent that it adheres to the general moral and legal principles of freedom and human dignity.

The principle of the conservative is to embrace prudent change and to have an efficient, effective, and unobtrusive government.  The concern is that government power, once established, does not always reside in the hands of the forces of good, realizing that once established it will find its way into someone’s hands.  The change that occurs within society should not be change driven by government but through harmony in a free society.  To produce change beyond the moral and legal principles of freedom and human dignity through government is to produce a monstrous growth, a cancer, which will ultimately devour its host.

Like me, we often say, we live in a different time and we have more access to knowledge than past generations did.  So let me ask you, as I have ask myself, if we have all this access to knowledge where did it come from?  Why do we feel we have better answers than that knowledge passed to us by past generations?  Yes, we have technology but technology is not knowledge it is application of knowledge.  Yes, we have an educated elite who profess to have knowledge based on their superior education but ask yourself, where did these people obtain their knowledge?  The bottom line, as I see it, is that knowledge has come from history’s trials and errors.  Those that apply textbook applications to current situations without also applying historic education and/or scientific analysis before moving forward with those changes, are fools at best and lying criminals at worst, neither of which I would be interested in following.  Therefore, I offer, while change occurs based on increased learning, that change should be prudently applied so as to not having to revisit the failures of the past.  Thus, I ask you to make decisions that make sense by using both the God given talents you have plus the knowledge of history in an effort to make a better life for you and future generations.  The fools of the past are still fools today so to copy their ideas are destined to make us fools as well.

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  1. Ted, such a well thought out, excellent piece. It deserves much wider distribution.

  2. I pretty much told Ted the same thing. Any ideas where he should start?

  3. This is a really good piece Ted. Almost a conservative manifesto. The principles which have been handed down to us are based on those actions that are successful. Successful being defined as leading to better long term survival for the society and the individuals in it. As long as we make changes slowly and deliberately, as you say and watch to ensure these bright ideas actually do lead toward survival all will be well. In a manufacturing process you do not allow changes to be made on the production line itself. If there is a bright idea to improve production management would set up a pilot program parallel to the existing line work out all of the kinks that would exist and then after seeing that the idea did improve production, roll out the new production line. Congress introduces “change” willy nilly and then when the machinery either grinds to a halt or catastrophically blows up, they’ll blame the machine operator and accept no responsibility for making the change in the first place. Anyway, again…Excellent post.

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