Month: February 2017

Reports of conservatism’s death have been greatly exaggerated

The headlines after last month's Conservative Political Action Conference seemed to describe less a celebration of our party's complete electoral domination and more a wake for our movement. "RIP, movement conservatism," declared the American Thinker. "How Donald Trump killed movement conservatism," wrote Truthout. "Trump's takeover of conservatism is complete," opined a Washington Post columnist. The rash of obituaries didn't end with the conference, either. Headlines following the president's first address to a joint session of Congress continued the trend. "Trump's speech to Congress killed conservatism," wrote one Mediaite contributor, and the bells continue to toll with each passing day. These types of political eulogies are nothing new, though. Similar headlines ran when Senator Barry Goldwater lost in 1964, when then-Governor Ronald Reagan lost his primary fight in 1976, and also in 1992 and 2006. Four years ago Reuters even asked "Is conservatism going extinct?" and in 2008 The New Republic happily confirmed that, yes, "Conservatism is dead." Ding-dong, the liberals cheered ... then their party went on to lose more than 1,000 elected offices during the next eight years. Who won those seats? For the most part, conservatives. Truth is, our movement was far from dead in 1964 and it's far from dead now. Quite the opposite. Still, these doom-and-gloom articles do illustrate how some people consistently confuse things like principles and policies with mere people. To paraphrase the protagonist in "V for Vendetta" the conservative movement is more than just flesh. It is an idea ... and ideas are…

Like it or not, human nature defines our politics

Conservatives have spent years relying upon a single man to effectively represent our movement's philosophy in the U.S. Senate - Alabama's own Jeff Sessions. When others bowed under pressure or blew-up with frustration, his steadfast advocacy kept the fight going long enough for the cavalry to arrive. So while his departure to become our nation's top cop was certainly applauded, it does leave some trepidation within our ranks. Are conservatives now without an effective and dependable voice in the Senate? Thankfully, no. Mike Lee, the junior senator from Utah, is quickly speaking up. One could point to his record - Lee is the only Senator to earn a perfect 100% score from Conservative Review - or the many initiatives he's championed, but perhaps the greatest sign of Lee's solid understanding and genuine belief in our movement is how he explains conservatism. "Conservatives' view of human nature and history tells us that in this life, there will always be problems, and that attempts to use government to solve them often only make things worse," Lee recently said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. Lee went on to explain when and how government should become involved in our lives, but his mention of "human nature" is quite revealing. He's spoken about it many times before, once warning lawmakers that "policy cannot pick a fight with human nature and hope to win." Most people mistakenly assume that conservatism is principally about preferring things like limited government or low taxes, and defending things…

How can someone possibly be a conservative?

Earlier this month a senator from South Carolina was called a "traitor" and told he "doesn't have a shred of honor" because he voted to confirm Alabama's Jeff Sessions as our nation's attorney general. A few days later a young singer from California received death threats after she wore a gown to the Grammys emblazoned with the campaign slogan of our current president. Then a journalist in New York City was called a "monster" by his best friend after writing a rather balanced profile of political provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and was then called a "Nazi" in a local bar after admitting he supported stronger borders. What was their great transgression? It wasn't so much what they said or did, but who they are. The senator is Tim Scott - a black man. The singer is Joy Villa - a black woman. And the journalist, Chadwick Moore, is a gay man who recently told NPR that he and others are "part of a brand new conservative" taking shape across the country. "We were born in the Democratic party," Moore explained. "Somebody set our house on fire, we went running out, and the right has been so welcoming to people like me and there's so many of us." Yet, as Moore learned, his old pals on the left reserve a special sort of vitriol for those who dare to step outside of their neatly designed box of identity politics. If you're a member of some type of minority - race, religion, sexual…

How would you define conservatism?

A recent survey from Gallup found that the United States remains an overwhelmingly conservative country, with conservatives outnumbering liberals in 44 states, tied in just two, and lagging in only four. Although the gap has narrowed in some regions, conservatives still enjoy at least a 20-point advantage in 13 states (Alabama is fifth, where we outnumber liberals by a whopping 30 points). With so many Americans calling themselves conservative, one would assume its definition would be simple to explain. One would be wrong. Conservatism, as a word, doesn’t fully describe the many aspects of our philosophy. Some of its principles and processes aren’t “conservative” at all, just as modern liberalism is often quite illiberal. That makes defining conservatism incredibly difficult. So much so that, as pointed out in the National Review, when its founder William F. Buckley was asked to define the term for a book titled What is Conservatism?, the usually confident and always prolific writer produced an essay sheepishly titled “Notes toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism; Reluctantly and Apologetically Given by William F. Buckley.” If Buckley couldn’t do it, then nobody can ... yet others have tried. “What is conservatism?” Abraham Lincoln asked. “Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried.” Yes, but conservatism also seeks variety, preferring creativity to centralization, and there’s nothing old and tried about what happens within a vibrant free market. Just ask the buggy whip industry. Conservatism also “understands the important role that traditions, institutions, habits,…