For a long time, the Republican Party has been neither conservative nor libertarian. So few were surprised to find a rather bright line drawn between the GOP and the recent tea party protests. The truth is, the anger of the tea party demonstrators was directed as much towards what the GOP has become as it was towards the Democrats. Understandably then, GOP leaders haven’t been happy lately about their own grassroots.
While conservatives and libertarians make up the majority of the GOP, they don’t make up even half of the leadership. The rank and file are interested in principles of conservatism and libertarianism. They want to see those principles applied to governing. The GOP leadership has no interest anymore in such matters, being more enamored with attaining and remaining in power. Those principles are just standing in their way.
Still, at some point the Republican Party needs to be eased back into this discussion, because there isn’t enough in the way of organization outside the party to represent the views of the conservative and libertarians among us. But how can that be done given the way the GOP leadership has slid off the conservative/libertarian map?
Principles are the answer. Principles of individual freedom were most certainly at the root of the preachings of people like William F. Buckley. Those principles and goals would be further supported by replacing the leadership that is unwilling to stick to those fundamental ideals of limited government.
What follows is the mission statement originally written by William F. Buckley Jr. at the then fledgling National Review on November 19, 1955. This was the founding document of the magazine and needs to be viewed through that filter. That said, I dare to suggest to you that the Republican Party has found itself in trouble precisely because it has parted with these principles.
It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress. The growth of government (the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly. In this great social conflict of the era, we are, without reservations, on the libertarian side. The profound crisis of our era is, in essence, the conflict between the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias, and the disciples of Truth, who defend the organic moral order. We believe that truth is neither arrived at nor illuminated by monitoring election results, binding though these are for other purposes, but by other means, including a study of human experience. On this point we are, without reservations, on the conservative side. The century’s most blatant force of satanic utopianism is communism. We consider “coexistence” with communism neither desirable nor possible, nor honorable; we find ourselves irrevocably at war with communism and shall oppose any substitute for victory. The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than “newness”) and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity). The most alarming single danger to the American political system lies in the fact that an identifiable team of Fabian operators is bent on controlling both our major political parties (under the sanction of such fatuous and unreasoned slogans as “national unity,” “middle-of-the-road,” “progressivism,” and “bipartisanship.”) Clever intriguers are reshaping both parties in the image of Babbitt, gone Social-Democrat. When and where this political issue arises, we are, without reservations, on the side of the traditional two-party system that fights its feuds in public and honestly; and we shall advocate the restoration of the two-party system at all costs. The competitive price system is indispensable to liberty and material progress. It is threatened not only by the growth of Big Brother government, but by the pressure of monopolies(including union monopolies. What is more, some labor unions have clearly identified themselves with doctrinaire socialist objectives. The characteristic problems of harassed business have gone unreported for years, with the result that the public has been taught to assume (almost instinctively) that conflicts between labor and management are generally traceable to greed and intransigence on the part of management. Sometimes they are; often they are not. NATIONAL REVIEW will explore and oppose the inroads upon the market economy caused by monopolies in general, and politically oriented unionism in particular; and it will tell the violated businessman’s side of the story. No superstition has more effectively bewitched America’s Liberal elite than the fashionable concepts of world government, the United Nations, internationalism, international atomic pools, etc. Perhaps the most important and readily demonstrable lesson of history is that freedom goes hand in hand with a state of political decentralization, that remote government is irresponsible government. It would make greater sense to grant independence to each of our 50 states than to surrender U.S. sovereignty to a world organization.
Point number five here is particularly potent. We were told we needed a fresh approach and to get along with the other side. Well, we might try “compassionate conservatism,” except it’s already been done and all it did was grow government and allow us to abandon our principles. It also nominated John McCain and ultimately helped lose the general election. McCain was defeated because conservatives and libertarians — who would usually be supportive of real conservatives — sat on their hands in November, having identified McCain not as a conservative but as part of the problem.
The GOP’s platform needs to be based on the principles of limited government laid out above. Republicans as a party shouldn’t be, as they have been, focused on the idea that we need to change in order to be relevant. We need to show that our principles are already relevant and should never have been relinquished.