"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Post Election Conservative Strategy

Some "high profile conservatives," social, economic and foreign policy-minded alike, plan to meet in Virginia two days after the election. No matter the outcome, they figure the conservative movement needs some work. They've got that much right, but forgive me if I'm not overflowing in confidence that they'll get much else right.

First of all, the idea that one can separate conservatives into the above mentioned "types" is troublesome. Maybe we need a better word than "conservative" to describe someone who can defend their ideology based on the stated principles of the founders of our nation. This conservative strategy session will include those who voted for the latest "bailout" bill, which would have horrified almost anyone at the 1789 Constitutional Convention.

I think that if the Republican Party is going to return to conservatism it's going to have to happen from the bottom up. That means that we common folk will have to educate ourselves on the basics of natural law and self-government.

How long has it been since you actually sat down and read the Constitution? It's not a long or complicated document. It was written so that an 18th century farmer could understand it easily. In it you'll find exactly what the federal government is allowed to do. They are called the "enumerated powers" and there are 16 of them. That's it.

Next, try the Federalist Papers, written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to explain the reasoning behind the Constitution to the voters of New York. It's not as easy a read as the Constitution itself, but it's broken down into small essays that address different aspects of the document.

Thomas Paine's Common Sense was the argument that pushed many in the colonies to accept the idea of a break from England. His series of articles called The Crisis rallied the country to support the Revolutionary cause during the darkest days of the war.

Anything written by Thomas Jefferson is helpful. Start with the Declaration of Independence and then the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom and any or all of his letters and correspondence.

There are any number of works by and about all our founding fathers that deserve attention as well. Their philosophy is based in large part on Hobbes and Locke, which are harder to get through, but fascinating. The whole of Western philosophy plays a role in formulating the government we should be enjoying today. Our founders were fluent in the Bible and Plato and Socrates as well. It certainly wouldn't hurt us to look into all of these.

I'm far from an expert on any of these writings, but we don't need expertise to start educating our friends about how our country should and could work.

Our nation was founded by ordinary citizens, it's going to have to be saved by them as well.

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