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The Guiding Theme of American Conservatism

The guiding theme of American conservatism must be exactly what the preamble to the Constitution says: “to secure the blessings of liberty” and to “promote the general welfare.”

Ronald ReaganIt is not government’s job to redistribute wealth. That’s Marxism. That’s inconsistent with liberty.

The American idea has always been to allow people to achieve whatever they can achieve. We don’t believe in punishing achievement the way Obama does.

There should be no ceiling on success.

Furthermore, punishing achievers doesn’t work. The achievers can take their money and businesses elsewhere.

This was Ayn Rand’s great point in Atlas Shrugged — where she posits the question of: What would happen to society if all the producers, achievers, and innovators just quit, just took their marbles and went home? What would happen to America if all the producers got fed up and pulled a John Galt.

To a large extent, this is happening right now to America. The stock market is the only aspect of the U.S. economy right now that’s sort of working because large companies have figured out how to make money by building their factories overseas where the labor is cheaper. Apple devices are mostly built now in China — which is now more business-friendly than America. The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

What made America great has always been that the achievers were not punished, as they had been everywhere else — that, in America, we have an “unalienable” right to the “pursuit of happiness,” as our Declaration of Independence says.

That’s the American idea.

But, as conservatives, we also adjust our thinking in accordance with reality — to meet the facts.

We aren’t driven by ideology the way libertarians are. If the free market isn’t working in certain areas, we reserve the right to make adjustments, to patch it up, to make rules that make the economy work better.

The NFL changes its rules all the time — in the interest of making the game better.

Generally, the NFL has adjusted the rules to make it easier for offense to score and the quarterback to complete passes . . . because that’s what the public wants. Defense always eventually catches up to whatever the offenses are doing. So if the NFL was still playing with rules that were in place during the 1960s, the offense would never score. So the NFL had to adjust the rules, and is constantly tweaking the rules to solve this problem or that problem.

That’s the job of the lawmaker and policy-maker — or at least should be their job: To adjust the rules to make the system work better.

Click here for Part I of the series, Why I’m a Conservative, Not a Libertarian

Click here for Part II of the series, We Do Need a Social Safety Net

Click here for Part III of the series, What a Conservative Social Safety Net Would Look Like

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MODERN CONSERVATISM has been a failure because it has been, operationally, de facto, Godless. In the political/civil government realm it has ignored Christ and what Scripture says about the role and purpose of civil government. Thus, it failed. Such secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

”[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.

“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

In any event, “politics,” for the most part today, is whoring after false gods. It will not save us. Our country is turning into Hell because the church in America has forgotten God (Psalm 9:17) and refuses to kiss His Son (Psalm 2.) See, please, 2 Chronicles 7:14ff for the way to get our land healed. 

John Lofton, Recovering Republican


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