Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Source of Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…”

Here is the most basic tenet of Conservatism, the source of rights. The source of man’s rights is God.

The Founding Fathers knew that inherent in the composition of every man, woman, and child is a spark of the divine. That spark is God’s endowment of self determination and free will and it is only present in the individual. Governments are created for the purpose of preserving and defending this spark, this right, of self determination. Anything beyond that is, at best, a distraction, at worst a betrayal.

It is popular in modern political and legal circles to say that legislation gives a person a right or privilege to act in a certain way. In reality, flow of power moves in the exact opposite direction.

This is significant: If rights only exist because a government has granted them, what is to prevent that government from taking them away? What if dictatorship is benevolent or equality gauranteed? Does that justify the denial of freedom? If government is the granter of rights, then the natural question is why should the average citizen have any say over its function. Certainly the natural aristocracy of Jefferson’s later life should rule the ignorant masses for their own benefit.

All of democracy decries this notion. Government’s authority is derived from the people it governs. It is the people in whom all divine authority resides. These people then delegate some of their authority (as opposed to relinquishing it), to representatives, who, in turn, exercise that authority in governing the affairs of the people.

This was the “great experiment” of the founding of the United States. Can a people govern themselves? The world watched in rapt anticipation with Kings and despots doubting.

History is filled with examples of the effects of the loss of freedom. Even the marginal decrease in freedom required for a more “secure” economic equality proves the rule. (I’ll leave the challenge to you to find a single exception to that rule.)

Here then is the balance government must strike: Preservation of a common framework that is secure enough to protect individual freedom while still being subject to that freedom. For this critical balance humanity delegates its authority to governments.

The exercise of rights inherent in every individual may be denied, it is true, but the right can never be separated from the individual. The result of such a denial, however is, at minimum, retarding, and at maximum, devastating. Anyone who was in Eastern Europe in the years following the collapse of Communism can attest to the toll Communism took on the human soul (more on this later).

Most American’s hold this notion true, that God is the source of our rights and we are all created equal (in those rights), and the denial of those rights is detrimental. The difference with Conservatives is that we adhere to the principle. We expect our government to adhere to the principle as well. The principle is eternal, and no matter how much we deny its truth, we can not alter it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Returning to the Grange

What is the proper role of government? Does the role necessarily change over time or is it static? Since before Socrates we’ve been debating those questions. If I were philosophically academic, I would now tell you that I didn’t know the answers and wonder aloud (or at least as loud as the written form can be) if there would ever truly be answers.

The question of the role of government was decided more than a hundred years ago. (“We are now engaged in a great civil war, to see whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, so dedicated, can long endure.”)

It is now the second question that appears to hang in doubt. Once the proper role of government is discovered and implemented, does the role need to be reevaluated from time to time in the face of technological advancement?

It is self evident, after more than two hundred years of experiment, or at least should be, that the proper role of government does not change, but rather the tools inherent to that role.

Why then is it that Constitutionalism in America appears to be dying a slow, European, death in the United States? Why is it that a man with open, stark, socialist tendencies, is even nominated for President, let alone leading in the final days before the election? Why is it that most American’s don’t know the two great questions of government have been answered?

We’ve stopped teaching.

The Conservative movement, dedicated as it is to the Constitutional framework created by the founding fathers, has grown lax and lazy. Oh sure, we argue our points, and sit around patting ourselves on the back that we are right. We feel secure in the knowledge that history bears out our argument and yet will again. In the mean time our schools churn young adults out into the world full of hollow propaganda, and lacking the basic thinking skills to preserve a free nation.

We must re-empower our Constitution. We must reinvigorate the idea that our government is based on law, not the whim of a somewhat pragmatic, but well intended, population. We can only do that by teaching. The bulwark of the constitution is not armies, or even a mighty currency, but rather the education of our fellow man.

Let’s be clear that I don’t mean the clumsy diversified education of our modern lexicon. I mean a sharing of the basic tenets upon which the fundamental questions of government hang. We must teach. We must teach everybody.

I am confident that if we teach, we will see a movement reborn, a movement which can not be stopped; a movement to save the soul of the American government.

I will no longer stand by and watch as craven politicians run around proclaiming they are Conservative, while pursuing policies that defy the basic tenets of that moniker.

The purpose of this blog is to start that educating process, to return to teaching the basics of Conservatism.

I hope to not be the only writer here, but to invite Conservative thinkers to write here as well, because I’m not a political philosopher. I’m just one of the millions of people that go to work everyday (in the private sector) and turn the engine of prosperity.

I have named the blog after Alexander Hamilton’s home, because I think we all need to return to our roots, the very foundational theories upon which our political philosophy is grounded. I pray that we can, here, do that.