Let the Political Games Begin
by Linda Bowles
June 29, 1999
|The political season is under way, and the
fun and games have begun. Those who follow politics as a hobby or as a bad habit will soon
be immersed in discussions of the pros and cons of old issues cross-dressed as new ones,
including but not limited to abortion, education, school vouchers, social security,
national defense, taxes, budgets, welfare, immigration, affirmative action, campaign
reform, the environment, crime, violence and morality.
A few new questions will be intermingled with unresolved old ones. Is our country headed in the right direction? Do polls need to be regulated? What is the right relationship between state and religion? Will New York state elect an abused wife from Arkansas to the U.S Senate? What will be Bill Clinton's legacy? Can Al Gore survive a separation at the hip from Bill Clinton? Is George W. Bush a real conservative? Before we get lost in such matters as these, let's probe a little deeper than is our custom. Rather than content ourselves with the nuggets lying around on the surface, lets mine deeper to discover major veins of political wisdom, insight and philosophy.
George W. Bush has given us a place to start digging by using the term "compassionate conservative." It is obvious that he is attempting to overcome the stereotype of conservatives as being intolerant and uncaring. He says he is also trying to provoke a discussion of what conservatism actually is. That's a good place to start.
What is a conservative?
What do conservatives think and believe that differentiates them from others?
Let's see if we can unearth the mother lode underlying those questions.
In his masterful book "The March of Freedom", Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner gives us a clear view into the hearts and minds of the individuals who played major roles in shaping modern conservative thought.
One of these individuals was Russell Kirk, whose classic political book, "The Conservative Mind", was published in 1953. Feulner described Kirk as "... the conscience of the conservative movement. Perhaps more than anyone in our century, he revitalized conservative thought, galvanized its adherents into forming a movement, and restored its intellectual respectability."
In his book "The Power of Ideas," Lee Edwards summarizes the six canons that Kirk used to describe the essence of modern conservatism:
"(1) A divine intent, as well as personal conscience, rules society."
This is not a trite platitude. In Kirk's own words, "political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems." Kirk understood the concept of original sin. The outcome of every human life, the destiny of every nation and the ultimate survival of the human race is determined by the outcome of the battle between good and evil.
"(2) Traditional life is filled with variety and mystery while most radical systems are characterized by a narrowing uniformity." He meant, of course, that human uniformity is not a natural condition, and requires the use of force to achieve. Imposed uniformity stifles creative thought, deadens the sense of wonderment, and imprisons the human spirit. It is a neo-liberal thing.
"(3) Civilized society requires orders and classes." Nobody expressed the thought better than U.S. educator Felix E. Schelling, who said, "True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world."
"(4) Property and freedom are inseparably connected." The communist revolutionaries Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels agree. In the Communist Manifesto, they wrote, "The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property." American liberalism, that is to say, socialism, allows individuals to hold title to private property, but the government holds control. [This is actually Fascism. Where the private sector owns the resources of productivity and the state exercises complete control of that productivity. Check a good dictionary. Communism and Fascism are near twins, not opposites as some try to pretend. -- TYSK]
"(5) Man must control his will and his appetite, knowing that he is governed more by emotion than by reason." Kirk understood that if individuals do not bridle their own behavior, power-hungry government bureaucrats will happily do it for them. Conservatives are unified around the idea of individual freedom and self-control, while liberals are unified around the idea of human helplessness and government control. [Hence the need for a "village". You are nothing, the state is all. -- TYSK]
"(6) Society must alter slowly." [The socialist "reformers" learned this lesson well. Note their use of incrementalism and their takeover of the government school system. -- TYSK] Kirk understood the value of the learning curves of civilization as reflected in tradition, custom and prescription. The distilled wisdom of the past deserves respect. Kirk's profound ideas and admonitions have become a part of that distilled wisdom. I believe he would agree with the thought that if we made the effort to comprehend the underlying political principles and spiritual values that generated our Constitution and gave birth to what was to become the greatest triumph of collective human effort in the history of the world, we would be better positioned to ask the kind of questions we need to ask of those who want to lead us.
Linda Bowles' 'take no prisoners' attitude has made her one of the few conservative women columnists in America with a large readership. She formerly managed Bowles Associates consulting firm, and has written speeches and been a researcher.
COPYRIGHT 1999 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Additional comments and formatting by TYSK
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT
6 July 1999