Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Being A Conservative

So, my faithful readers understand that I'm a conservative. I believe in small, limited government. I believe the national government has a few, very limited duties to its citizenry and it's dangerous to allow it to go beyond that.

I understand my liberal friends' contention that the government can be and should be used as a force for good ("promote the general welfare", as the Constitution says), and while I respect that opinion and the optimism it implies, I am less optimistic. Not only does that require somebody somewhere deciding what the "good" is they intend to force on us all, but it requires giving the government a lot of power -- power which one day can be used in the worst kind of way. I think the idea our founding fathers had from the beginning was a good one: government is there not to make our lives better but to ensure that we are free to make our own lives, and the lives of our neighbors, better (the unalienable right of . . not happiness . . but the pursuit of happiness).

Unfortunately, freedom to make your life better is also freedom to sit on your bum and be a bum. Freedom to help your neighbor is also freedom to walk away when he needs you. Freedom to do good is also freedom to decline to do good. And legally, I think there's a difference between choosing to do wrong (which we legislate against) and declining to do good. Legally, you cannot steal someone else's property -- but legally, you're not required to give your coat to a cold man who can't afford one, either. Yes, of course, that is the DECENT thing to do, and society should feel free to scorn and reject those who choose to not behave decently, but I don't think it can legislate them into decent human beings.

All this to say, my conservativism clearly depends to a great degree on decent people choosing to be decent. My liberal friends, not without reason, have little faith in people consistently choosing to be decent, which is why they want the government to take over and make it happen. (I would question why they seem to have such faith in the people who run the government being decent, but that's for another day.)

As a principle, I believe the government should not be insuring that everyone in the country has the health care they need -- churches should be doing that, and private charities, and families, and individuals. Same with caring for the elderly, the poor, and the like.

AND . . I've decided, if I really believe that, I should put my money where my mouth is--and do the decent thing. And I'm inviting my conservative friends to do the same. It's not enough to be against the government stepping into those areas of need . . . we need to step into those areas ourselves so government intervention isn't necessary.

What exactly this looks like in my life (or your life), I don't know. But I think I'd like to use this blog to explore it with you, my friends. I believe the majority of Americans now claim to be conservatives -- and I know that the VAST majority of Americans claim to be Christians. If those of us who claim one or the other of those labels would really act on the principles we say we believe in . . . well, heavens! Just think what kind of world we'd have!

1 comment:

Dave from Hope said...

Bigger the government, smaller the person. Dennis Prager