My America, the America I believe our Founders aimed to create, sounds like it may be singing its swan song (athough sometimes I’m not even sure that it ever existed). Statism and Socialism are gaining popularity, Political Correctness has embedded itself in our universities and public discourse, the Constitution is willfully disregarded and cynically nitpicked, and belligerent groupthink is replacing rugged, thoughtful individualism. We are no longer asking what we can do for our country and instead demanding what our country must do for us. When JFK appears to be far to the political right of not only the top two 2016 Democratic presidential candidates, but perhaps the leading GOP candidate too, it is pretty clear that the nation is going through an odd stage that might be hard to recover from.
What I aim to do in this piece is to deliver a kind of manifesto for how we can come together by way of the best of our shared goals and interests to give Liberty and the American Dream one last chance. I believe that if we abide by Conservative principles, draft Libertarian laws, and embrace Liberal culture, we will have the best chance at uniting and rescuing America before it’s too late.
Here’s what I mean:
2016 was supposed to be the year that Conservatives made their case to the youth and minority groups of America and proved that Conservative values and policies are vastly superior and more moral to those of the Progressives. The rise of Donald Trump has turned the debate into a mud-slinging catfight, and Conservativism has failed to be heard as a result. However, while Conservatives are not model lawmakers and are not particularly adept at moving our culture forwards, the basic moral principles Conservative Americans espouse should be held dearly and practiced to the best of our abilities by all of us.
The Declaration of Independence is likely the most Conservative document ever written. It explains that man’s Rights come from his nondenominational creator, that these Rights are self-evident and inalienable, that men can collectively gather their Rights to form a legitimate government, and that the main purpose of said government is to protect those Rights, lest it begs to be overthrown.
This is the truth, and it must never be forgotten. Our apathy towards and denial of our Rights in no way negates their existence. Whatever dictators and democratic majorities impose upon us is illegitimate and wrong no matter how benevolent their intentions are.
Rights are objective and universal, and we can only lose them by violating the Rights of others. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are the enumerated Rights in the Declaration of Independence, but as the 9th Amendment wisely reminds us, our Rights are not limited by the Constitution. I believe that recognizing the importance of these truths is the first step towards bringing America back together.
The above argument about Rights made by our Founders in the Declaration of Independence was used to notify the Kingdom of England that America was no longer a part of their commonwealth, and that America would carry on as a sovereign nation in control of its own destiny; it proclaimed self-determination.
The principle of sovereignty should carry from the nation called the United States of America all the way down to man as an individual. This means that America should act on its own, irrespective of what the United Nations prescribes, that the 50 states should be permitted to govern themselves in accordance with the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, that autonomous cities and local communities should receive the same respect from their states that the states receive from the federal government, that the families within each community should be entitled to live by their own religious or secular values with respect to basic human Rights, and that individuals should be free and encouraged to pursue happiness as they see fit.
Sovereignty separates man and his free will from instinct-laden beasts, and gives human life infinite value. Though society is bound to limit our Liberty in our imperfect world, we should operate with the intention of preserving the autonomy of ourselves and our fellow men, especially when they make personal choices we are at odds with.
As a people, we must learn to live within our means and remember to save for rainy days ahead.
We must realize that it is not only unfair to ourselves, but unfair to the people around us when we incur overwhelming debt. When we voluntarily go into debt without a well-thought-out plan to repay what we’re going to owe (and perhaps several backup plans to boot), we set ourselves up for a life of servitude, dissatisfaction, and resentment. We are unable to reap what we sow from the amassing of debt onwards, and cast scorn upon those who can. This does not mean that all debt is bad, as paying later often has fantastic benefits, but that viewing negligent, thoughtless borrowing as reprehensible must be reinforced.
Worse yet, if we fail to pay back our outstanding costs, society bears the burden. The mortgage crisis that sent the entire world into a tailspin was the result of irresponsible consumers (fostered by stupid government) writing checks they were never going to be able to cash. The looming student debt bubble is a symptom of the same disease. When a debtor does not hold up his end of the bargain, the loaner suffers. When the loaner suffers, the insurer is asked to pick up the tab. But it doesn’t end there. Unpaid debts create a raging river of torment with no tangible end.
Spending must occur wisely, and saving must become habitual. Prudent should be one of the greatest compliments a man can receive.
Peace through Strength
There are three basic functions of government, and all require strength. Those functions are the defense of the nation from foreign invaders, the protection of citizens from the criminal actions of their peers domestically, and the administering of justice through a strict yet civilized court system. With powerful deterrents to attacks from abroad, disciplined and responsive police forces within our communities, and righteous and consistent means of doling out criminal justice, we will strive closer to peace than by any other means.
War should be avoided at all costs. And with monolithic military might, national security will never truly be at risk.
The military should be mighty, the police force should be invincible, and the courts should stick to their guns.
Traditional Family Values
Though it’s seldom spoken about, the number one problem in today’s society is the dissolution of the family unit. Single motherhood is celebrated instead of discouraged, and the government, public schools, and law enforcement are replacing fathers (and doing a poor job of it). This is one of the root causes of high incarceration rates, poverty, and economic inequality.
It has been common knowledge throughout mankind’s history that fathers are superior providers and mothers are superior nurturers. We evolved based on this truth. It’s why men typically work more and are able to earn more, and why women are typically more adept at looking after the home and providing emotional support for their kids. There are obviously exceptions, but there is no denying this is the truth in the overwhelming majority of occurrences.
For some odd reason, we have decided to disregard biology and common sense in favor of an egalitarian utopia that has never, does not, and will never exist. Single motherhood rates continue to climb, inequality continues to grow, and lost, angry youths fill the streets in protest of reality.
We must relearn to unapologetically value taking responsibility for our sexual decisions by abstaining from promiscuity and waiting until we are financially and emotionally ready to bring children into the world. This generally means waiting until we are married to have kids, working hard to keep our relationships intact, and putting our families before our erotic desires.
The basic tenets of Libertarianism are don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff, and don’t violate contracts. These simple and universally accepted principles exist to prevent force and fraud, the two greatest evils man is capable of. There are certainly other social violations that men are able to commit. However, correcting those ills should not be the responsibility of the government’s courts, prisons, and guns, but rather the responsibility of society itself. Libertarian laws reflect this fact.
Libertarianism does not decree a value system because allowing individuals in the free market to determine worth is fundamental to the entire philosophy. Libertarianism lacks culture as well, being that it desires to limit cultural practices only when they interfere with the Rights of others. But as addicts of fairness and consistency, Libertarians are best when it comes to creating legislation.
Recognizing private property Rights for all mankind may have been the most progressive event in our species’ history. We have evolved from nomadic beasts that warred over turf and resources to sentient beings that respect each other as individuals in exchange for reciprocation (or at least we’re on our way). This is foundational to our moral code, and should be communicated more explicitly more often.
Not only is respecting the property of others moral, it is also more constructive for society as a whole. When land and resources are public, we are forced to grab everything we can before the next guy does. There is no personal consequence for biting off more than one can chew. For example, international seas cause massive overfishing and waste. Gargantuan ships trawl the seas and scoop up everything in their nets’ paths because if they do not, their competitors will. This is what’s known as the tragedy of the commons. When we have to share, we hoard because there is no negative effect for taking in excess. Think about children going after the candy that spills from a burst piñata. Does any child take less candy than he needs?
But if property is our own, we care for it. It would be masochistic to cut down every tree on a privately owned plot of land at once and refuse to plant new ones. Keeping a steady supply of trees and planting as many as the land allows is what any sane landowner would choose to do. It seems counterintuitive, but it would be an obvious choice for any marginally intelligent businessperson.
For these reasons, the Right to own private property should be expanded and glorified throughout our legal system. Federal lands should be returned to the states, and the states should sell that land into private hands. The Department of Education should relinquish their grasp on the throats of public schools, and allow the states to sell them to individuals looking to make a profit by offering the best educational services at the lower possible price or to improve education in our country as they see fit. As a bonus, the money used to buy land and schools could be sent to Washington to pay off the debt.
While we inherit various sums of wealth, are prone to different diseases, and are gifted with diverse and unequal talents and weaknesses, we are all born in one body (with respect to conjoined twins). We may not wind up in the same places or succumb to death at the same age, but God or Nature or the Universe or Something entitles us to a human form to be used to transport us from the beginning to the end of our lives.
Your body is just that: yours. And no one has the Right to tell you what to do with your body. Because of this, there should be no such thing as drug prohibition, restrictions on dangerous activities like MMA or skydiving, laws against sexual conduct between consenting adults, or injunctions against the termination of one’s own life.
Body ownership necessitates laws against murder, assault, rape, abduction, and harassment because no one has permission to act upon another person’s property at his behest.
Body ownership also makes self-defense a legal Right. If you are physically coerced or threatened, it must be legally legitimate for you to use any means necessary to protect yourself.
To pursue Happiness, we must be permitted to make our own decisions with the only guaranteed inheritance all humans receive, and we must have an authoritative legal system that prevents others from making decisions with bodies that aren’t theirs.
Limited Spending and Regulation
While Conservatives chastise Liberals for their adherence to welfare spending, and Liberals answer back by calling for reductions in the defense budget, Libertarians plead with both groups to take it easy on burning taxpayer dollars in general. And Libertarians are Right.
There are several important differences to take note of between the government and a private business. Private businesses must convince people to trade money for their services; government can tax by force. We can vote for private businesses on a daily basis by choosing what to spend our money on; we have to wait for the next election to vote on representatives in government. If private business employees fail to take care of their responsibilities, they are fired or effect a cost to the business; if government employees fail, they are rarely fired and effect a cost to the public.
The list goes on and on.
By allowing the government to spend our money and regulate our businesses, we not only allow an irresponsible and advantaged player into the game, we maximize the potential consequences of corruption. People are imperfect and fallible, and America was founded on that notion. No man knows what is best for another man all the time, so no man should have the Right to rule over another man. By giving more taxing, spending, and regulating power to the government, we make way for more and worse corruption. The larger the government, the less able we are to hold it accountable, and the more likely it is to get involved in matters that affect us all in potentially devastating ways.
Laws should be passed to strictly limit the amount of money government can spend, what it can spend that money on, and what conditions it may spend under. Education, healthcare, pension plans, housing, and just about every other non-military aspect of life is handled better in private and local hands, so spending in those industries should be minimal or non-existent. And the regulatory power of government should be limited as well to prevent corrupt politicians from rigging the system to benefit certain private companies and people in exchange for wealth and power.
Judging individuals based on the content of their character as opposed to the color of their skin was once a cornerstone legal principle of Progressivism. But with the advent of Affirmative Action, demand for ethnic and sexual equity among corporate and institutional board members, the misconstrued interpretation of the “wage gap”, and empathy-based legal rulings, it is clear that the left has abandoned colorblindness. The principle of treating individuals as individuals has clearly been usurped by Libertarians.
Administering blind justice should be the foundation of our legal system. Rich individuals should not be allowed to buy their way out of sentencing, persons of color should not be given special breaks because they are overrepresented in penitentiaries, and no violation, be it statutory rape or spousal abuse, should be considered more serious when one gender does it to the other.
Equality is not about earning the same amount of money or having ethnically balanced crime statistics. It’s about facing the same uphill climb to the top as everyone else and facing the same punishment for violating the Rights of others. Lady Liberty must remain blindfolded when weighing the scales of justice.
Freedom of Association
As wrong as racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination may be, laws that punish private individuals for engaging in them are illegitimate. We are not always in control of our thoughts, our opinions, or our feelings, and we should not be held accountable for what we think or what we express. Authorizing prosecution against thought crimes is dangerous for myriad reasons.
For one, as stated previously, we are not always in control of what happens in our minds or in our hearts. We have the ability to change the way the think and to manage our emotions, but we should not be held in contempt for failing to do so. Secondly, all forms of bigotry and prejudice are subjective. What offends one person may make another person laugh. What seems hateful to one person may be intellectually valuable to another. Thirdly, some thoughts and facts are racist and sexist in nature. Certain populations have higher average IQs than others. Certain group are typically stronger or faster than others. If to be racist or sexist is to assume one race or sex is generally superior to another, what are we to do about data that proves demographic differences in certain regards?
From a legal standpoint, private individuals must be allowed to discriminate. If a Muslim baker does not wish to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding because he feels it violates his religious beliefs, he must not be forced to act against his conscious or against his will. That would be coercion, and that is exactly what laws are written to prevent. On the flipside, private individuals who are offended by the discrimination of the previously mentioned baker should be allowed to discriminate against him by avoiding his business or refusing to serve him. Freedom of association goes both ways.
Western civilization should be considered synonymous with Liberalism. Although today’s so-called Liberals are not representative of the Liberals of old, they seem to be more prone to delve into self-expression and status-quo challenging behavior. It could certainly be argued that today’s Liberals (or Progressives) are actually the establishment, and that Conservatives are the counter-culture, but for the sake of staying focused, let’s just admit that a culturally Liberal way of life is the most likely to enhance our knowledge, living standards, and happiness.
Conservatives have the right ideas on right and wrong, and Libertarians are the best at setting a fair playing field. But Liberals know how to make life worth living. Their moral judgement may be imbalanced, and their involvement in legal matters often does more harm than good. But carrying our culture should be on their shoulders.
Limitlessness in Science and the Arts
There are colleges at most universities called “Liberal Arts and Sciences” for a reason: art and science are results of Liberal thinking. The ability to remove oneself from one’s own perspective and preconceived notions is a Liberal skill that results in discovery and improvement.
Presentations of the universe and theories about it often clash with what we desire to be real, and that can lead to confusion, anger, and hate. In the least Liberal cultures, offending deep-seated beliefs is not only taboo, but often illegal or justification for violence. This is illiberal, and does not deserve our respect.
In our Liberal culture, the arts should not be concerned with hurting people’s feelings. Religious liberty must be protected at all costs, but science should never be prohibited from exploring controversial topics that test people’s faith, and the arts should never be censored for poking fun at the world’s various dogmas. Whether it’s proving evolution, drawing Mohammed, or exploring human sexuality, we should feel free to push the envelope and dig for new perspectives and truths.
While our Libertarian laws prevent the government from forcing us to be involved in practices and with people we prefer not to be involved with, we as people should be tolerant of each other’s differences. We should not be forced to appreciate or associate with cultures, religions, or even races we dislike, but we must be accepting of those who are different. Putting up a “No Blacks Allowed” sign in one’s store window should not be a crime, but our culture should realize that such acts will undermine social cohesion, and should therefore be shunned.
As Bill Maher often says, Liberals should be tolerant, but not tolerant of intolerance. Using the strong arm of the law to seek punishment for the intolerant is not Liberal, but voluntarily electing to disengage with them or attempting to peacefully enlighten them to the errors of their ways is.
Limited spending and small government means social programs run at the federal level cease to exist in great quantity. This is where we as caring and compassionate individuals come in. When an elderly person is alone and in need of assistance, individuals and communities must take it upon themselves to be there for him or her. When a stay-at-home mom is widowed and left to care for her children on her own, we need to make an effort to lend a helping hand.
This is more possible now than ever before thanks to social media and wireless communication. If a friend is unable to pay his medical bills, crowdsourcing can be employed to raise the required funds. If someone needs a babysitter for the day, a friendly Facebook post can disseminate the request.
What Liberals often fail to realize, and should figure out soon, is that the most philanthropic among us are also the wealthiest. It would be impossible for the opposite to be the case because poor people have little to offer. This should inspire Liberals and anyone else with a propensity for giving to focus more energy on making themselves prosperous enough to be able to donate money, resources, and time, and less energy on stumping for higher taxes and wealth redistribution.
Freedom of Speech, Religion, Thought, and the Press
Few practices are more classically Liberal than telling the truth. Be it reporting the truth about the abuses of a person in power or sharing one’s honest beliefs and opinions, expressing what needs to be expressed is tradition our culture should continue to embrace.
I am highly critical of today’s so-called Liberals because of their penchant for distinguishing hate speech from speech and attempting to shut out Conservative and Judeo-Christian views. But there are still some true Liberals out there who refuse to let their dissenting feelings turn them into bigots and dictators. These individuals should be models for the rest of us to follow.
As the Cat Steven’s song “Can’t Keep It In” goes, “You’ve got so much to say, say what you mean, mean what you’re thinking, and think anything”. Our culture should regard this concept below few others when passing wisdom from generation to generation.
While a negative effect of Liberalism may be fostering weaker, softer, and more sensitive people, being accustomed to talking out disagreements is more civilized and overall more functional than dealing with each other fist-first. As free-thinking animals with diverse experiences, we are bound to butt heads now and again. This is true at a one-on-one level, a group-on-group level, a party-on-party level, and even a nation-on-nation level. Rather than responding to dissent with rage or attacks, we should also do our best to sort things out with our words and our reasons.
An environment of diplomacy should trickle up from the personal confrontations we face in our daily lives to our international relationships. War and fighting are, sadly, sometimes the answer, but they should be avoided whenever possible.