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The political label “Conservative” is over-used and subject to debate as to its true meaning. With neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives, and compassionate conservatives, what is constitutional conservatism and how does it differ?

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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. [1]

Political ideologies have many names: Liberal, Conservative, Republican, Democrat are among many. Conservatives became synonymous with the Republican party, liberalism with the Democrats. However, this is not always true; the political label Conservative can be confused from the many flavors of conservatives (not all of which would traditionally be classified as such).

We introduce a new term, “Constitutional Conservatism” (not the exclusive claim of any party) to express a set of principles, not a detailed political platform. It is an idea which anyone can ascribe to, Republican, Democrat or any other.

Why a new label? Most people associate conservative with Republican, but as the Republican party abandons it’s principles (baring little resemblance to conservatism), the conservative label becomes tarnished. In fact, they use the term neo-conservative to illustrate their break from traditional conservatives. On the other hand, Constitutional Conservatives don’t fit into any one ideological group. Paleo-conservative, blue-dog Democrat and tradtionalist all have similarities (and differences).

Constitutional Conservatism flows from Judeo-Christian Biblical principles, but is religion-neutral — atheists can be (and are welcomed as) Constitutional Conservatives — Constitutional Conservatism does not seek to set up a religious government (as some conservatives desire). But in agreement with the original framers, freedom of religion is paramount to the Constitutional Conservative.

However, religious freedom is freedom to, not freedom from. More and more courts use an atheist view of government — as in freedom from religion. The Constitution bases religious freedom on freedom to religion (atheism also being a religion as it requires beliefs which must be taken on faith[2] — thus promotion of atheism is also wrong). The government must not hinder religious expression (of course, if your religion involves harming other people, the duty of government is protection for all and thus those ideas must be rejected), however, citizens must understand religious freedom means you may encounter beliefs you don’t share. Tolerance is an over-used term, but it expresses the idea of religious freedom — freedom to.

The foundation of Constitutional Conservatism stems from four simple ideas, expanding from one core principle — a return to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Both major parties ignore the Constitution when it suits them, and this must not be.

  1. Textual interpretation of the Constitution — The Constitution is not a “living document”.
  2. Fiscal responsibility — If you spend more than you take in, you’re in trouble. All levels of government must balance budgets each year.
  3. Charity — It is not the role of government to take care of people. Each citizen has a moral responsibility to help those less fortunate.
  4. Personal responsibility — It’s time society stops allowing “victims” to shift the blame somewhere else — it’s not the twinkie’s fault[3].

[1] This text should be immediately recognized and requires no reference. This footnote is only here in the event someone believes the author wrote it. 🙂

[2] Atheism states there is no god, an idea impossible to prove unless you have all knowledge. You must accept the idea on faith alone.

[3] The infamous “Twinkie defensehttp://dictionary.law.com/definition2.asp?selected=2177

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