From March 12, 2007
Posted on November 17, 2008
March 12, 2007
What is a conservative? While the conservative brand has taken a beating over the last several months with many independent voters, being a conservative is still essential for winning the Republican nomination for president.
But what kind of conservative? That remains the most difficult point of contention as the Republican primary process commences and as Hill Republicans seek to gain their voice and their footing in a Democrat-dominated Congress.
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention has boldly tried to define “conservative” in his mind, and has declared that Rudy Giuliani does not meet his litmus test. But is Land’s definition of a conservative the kind that will make this government work better for its citizens, make our nation more secure, and get Republicans back in the majority while retaining the White House? I don’t think so.
I became a conservative when I read Barry Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative.” I guarantee you that Barry Goldwater wouldn’t recognize Richard Land’s conservative movement today, a movement that seems more interested in getting government into people’s lives than getting government out of people’s lives.
I became a conservative because Ronald Reagan made it cool to be conservative. He had a positive outlook on the future of America because he believed in the essential goodness of the American spirit. And Reagan believed in freedom. Reagan didn’t want more government intrusion in people’s lives, he wanted more freedom. I doubt Ronald Reagan would sign up for Mr. Land’s vision of the future.
Republicans need to get back to their roots and come to understand that for conservatism to be cool again, it needs to promote freedom. It needs to be a reformational party, not in the theological sense of Reformation, but in the political sense of true reform.
The best way to restore the conservative brand is to refocus on what conservative governance really means. Thrift with the people’s money, dependence on the free market, trust in the free expression of ideas, and the aggressive defense of private property and free enterprise — these are the true tenets of conservatism, and a return to that definition of “conservative” is the only way that Republicans will stop the seemingly unstoppable drift of becoming a regional party.