Why does ConservativeHome have those shields up there?Posted on 11/08/2010
ConservativeHome believes that Republicans and conservatives in America should have ideas and policies that address a wide range of issues. This is because the world is too complex for conservatism to be too narrow.
For this reason, ConservativeHome serves as a platform for a wide range of opinions within conservatism. In addition, we have a core set of convictions rooted in what we believe is both a historical and relevant understanding of American conservatism.
These convictions are reflected in our shields. All of the shields are set against a common backdrop of limited government. None of the values on the shields can be upheld if the federal government is not restrained. Not all conservatives will agree with what we say below, but we think our shields represent the basic of a conservatism of the future.
Family. The family is the fundamental building block of a civil society. Conservatives have long argued that family flourishing is at the heart of a healthy society. Contrary to the left, which roots social dysfunction primarily in institutional failure, conservatives have long recognized that we’ll never fix social breakdown if we’re not honest with ourselves about family breakdown. This is as true when dealing with crime and welfare as it is when dealing with household debt and educational achievement.
Families are also where the habits of productivity are instilled. To the extent that policies make it harder for families to save, invest, or launch an enterprise, they’re anti-family policies and need to be fixed. Parents expect their children to have a better life than they had. If our policies are making this less likely, they need to be fixed.
Economic growth. America has always been the land of horizons. It has long been the place where people come to get a new start, to pursue dreams, to “make it.” Aspiration and economic growth are completely intertwined in the American experience. Conservatives have long argued that we need to remain a nation first and foremost where people can get ahead by working hard and pursuing new ideas. We’re not the land of opportunity for nothing.
Conservatives understand productivity. They believe the state’s role is to set the rules by which productivity results in growth and an increase in standard of living, not to seize the goods of productivity for its own ends, as the left would have it.
Some have noticed this shield is kind of green. That’s intentional. We believe that sound environmental policy and economic growth can go hand-in-hand, and that conservatives should lead the way on this front. Otherwise, “green policy” debates will be dominated by the left, which uses green policy as a way to achieve statist ends.
Americans continue to give significant amounts of time and money to helping others, to social improvement. And conservatives, on average, give the most in America. Private voluntary assistance should always be what we think of first when looking to address a social problem, rather than reflexively asking “what should the government do about this?” Private civic engagement is the cornerstone of the devolutionary, decentralized form of government that conservatives cherish so much.
Safety and security. Conservatives sometimes get a bum rap for being tough on crime. But who has ever really enjoyed living in a city or town where they feel unsafe? Security is a primary public good, and conservatives have always taken it seriously. It was the right, not the left, that pioneered a “broken windows” theory of crime control as a way to drive down crime rates overall, and conservatives have never been embarrassed to say that actions have consequences. We are all of us in a social covenant, and when we violate the terms of that covenant, we need a reliable system of law and order to make sure justice is served, not a system of that helps people excuse their actions by blaming someone else.
Human dignity. People usually think this shield is a pro-life shield. That’s not an incorrect reading of it, but it’s too narrow. Conservatism is in many ways a philosophy of human dignity. It’s usually conservatives who argue that human rights inhere in all of us before we’re even born. These rights continue with us until we die, regardless of impairment or physical condition. A robust conservatism defends the rights of all people against coercion and abuse, especially those who cannot defend themselves.
Faith. Religious practice transcends politics. But let’s face it, conservatives are just more religious on average than liberals. Conservatives have consistently, and more vocally, recognized the importance of the sacred in life and the public value of private faith.
Religious liberty is at the core of American constitutional life. And religious practice is at the core of social progress. It’s impossible to separate the zeal of the abolitionists or the fervor of civil rights activists or American’s immense capacity for generosity from religious behavior and practice. Conservatives have never been embarrassed about this, even though they haven’t always been on the right side of such issues. Conservatives therefore think policymakers and America’s elite need to appreciate the value of faith more than they do.
Strong military. It’s no secret that conservatives are more inclined to support a strong military than our friends on the left. This stems from a view that America is exceptional and that our size and strength impose significant obligations on us as a nation. We cannot underestimate the threats that face America and our allies, and we need to be equipped to win when we have to fight.
This doesn’t mean that the military is exempt from the kind of efficiency and budget prudence that we demand of other government agencies. But it does mean that we need to be prepared as taxpayers to defend our freedoms forcefully and effectively.
Media and culture. A successful conservative future will depend to a large degree on preserving the timeless values of our cultural heritage while continually embracing new forms of communication and entertainment. America has an identity and unique cultural history, and we need to teach it in schools. America is also home to rapid change and innovation, and new media is critical to getting the best old ideas out there.
In addition conservatives have an opportunity to lead the way in public debates about infrastructure investment, and these days, that needs to include investment in key technologies.
Patriotism. Conservatives are flag-flyers. American exceptionalism is nothing to be embarrassed about. Rather, it’s a source of rightful pride, and should be the source of good policy. As the world’s first nation to launch itself on a creed, a set of ideas written down as a contract of sorts, we’ve always seen ourselves as leaders in liberty and opportunity. And we know we need to protect principles at home if we are to hope we can help others protect them abroad. Patriots are idealists in a way, but not utopians. They remain committed to making progress toward the ideals of liberty and justice for all, even when we’re falling short along the way.
International leadership. Whether we like it or not, the United States has a role to play as a global leader. We are the world’s most powerful nation by just about any meaningful measure, which in turn means that we can hardly do anything as a nation without affecting things elsewhere in the world. Instead of apologizing for this reality, conservatives have been more likely to embrace it and utilize American strength to promote trade as a tool of development, free enterprise as the system of liberty in emerging economies, and the rule of law and democratic institutions as the expected political economy of developing countries.
The GOP. Conservatism is bigger than a political party. And yet no political worldview can advance outside of the party system. The Republican party is the natural political ally to conservatism, and the future of conservative policy in America is embedded in the future of the GOP. ConservativeHome is dedicated to the future of the GOP: helping to foster new ideas for tomorrow’s challenges, identifying rising talent within the party, keeping us all focused on what really matters rather than the daily political fray – this is why we’re here.