Impolite Company: You Call yourself a Conservative! What are you “Conserving?!”
Another November Election has passed, and the results are in! Americans have never been more politically divided and have never been more politically ignorant. Our fundamental understanding of political philosophy, and the traditions of Natural Law Theory, and of the English Common Law system that we inherited from Britain, and Rome before her have not only been abandoned, but long forgotten. While there were many items on the ballot for an off election year, none of them ring truer to this sentiment than Ohio’s Issue 1. The Constitutional Amendment for the Ohio State Constitution now codifies a woman’s “right” to murder the child that grows inside her womb. This is a gut punch to the pro-life movement, especially coming from what is supposed to be a “Red” State. This demonstrates a need for Conservatives to realize, we are losing the narrative.
While I recognize that the editor of this magazine would prefer something a little bit more upbeat, I cannot in good conscience ignore this glaring reality that we find ourselves in. It is time that someone rings the alarm bell. To prove my point let me ask you an honest question: What is the definition of “Right”? I want you, the reader to ask yourself this question honestly, and attempt to answer it. Don’t give me an example, like “Freedom of Speech” tell me the definition as though you were to find it in the dictionary. Stumped? Did you define it generally as “something that one can do”? Perhaps worst yet, you may have said “something the government allows us to do”. These are all things that I have heard voting age adults respond with when asked this question. All of it is wrong.
Now, before I tell you the actual answer, ask yourself this question: If (as I was taught in school) that our rights are among the most important thing that we have as human beings, then why has no one ever defined the term for you? Scary question, right? Think about back to your days sitting in a government or civics class back in high school, and your teacher saying something to the effect of “you must know your rights or stand up for your rights, etc…” yet never defining the term. I’ve taught Social Studies and History courses for the past ten years; I always define terms for students at the beginning of any unit of instruction. So why hasn’t arguably the most important thing that you can be taught about ever been defined for you?
The definition of rights is “(n) that which is morally correct and just. “Literally the opposite of wrong, rights must be understood with an objective moral principle, one would expect to wield ideas such as truth, beauty, goodness, justice, and other classic virtues to have a proper understanding of the idea. Translated from Greek, the word is “δικαίωμα,” (Diakiamata) and it’s a 2,500 year old idea that permeates Western thought and tradition. This was the “self-evident truths” that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence, and the idea prevailed throughout the State Constitutions of the 1770s and 80s, and of course found their way into the US Constitution of 1787.
Now that we have that base understanding, ask yourself yet another question: If it’s true that “All mankind are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” then how is it a “right for a woman to kill the child that grows within her?” If someone were to murder a pregnant woman, would they not be charged with double homicide? Yet that same woman can run down to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Ohio and have that baby torn out of her? How do we account for that obvious contradiction in our law? The answer is simple, we have lost our voice, our reason, the narrative, and are in danger of losing our Country and liberties.
I call myself a “Classical Liberal” and a Constitutional Conservative. The Classical Liberal part is easy, I believe in Natural Rights Theory, and Natural Law, that makes me a liberal. Conservative however is a much more elusive term. A common definition might hold that “one who is averse to change, especially rapid, or dramatic change.” Conservatives arguably “conserve” traditions, traditional values, and institutions. Yet, when I look around the nation, I observe that we have ceded K-12 education, the Academy and Universities, Arts, Entertainment, Journalism, and the Media. In other words, we’ve completely given up on conserving our culture at all to the point it makes me question “what exactly are we conserving”?
It is not all bleak though. It is not too late for us. We must engage in these battles, because as we have found out in Ohio’s recent election, literal lives are at stake. How can one live the good life as Aristotle writes about in Nichomachean Ethics? (A must read book if you’ve never had the opportunity!) Aristotle argues that it is the pursuit of happiness and the achievement of that happiness that is the purpose of mankind’s time here on Earth. “Pursuit of Happiness” ring a bell? If we are to conserve our traditions, heritage, and institutions, if we are to preserve our culture and Western Tradition, then we must fight in the arenas that we have ceded to the left. Education and the Arts are the two most important areas that we must focus on going forward, for without them, the other institutions will crumble. Conservatives must put up their money in investing into these institutions, or risk losing everything.