Conservative Movement Needs Leaders

Conservatism in America is in need of leaders who demonstrate fidelity to principle. The Republican Party, the conservative movement’s partisan home, received a stern repudiation in the 2006 midterm elections. Many Republican elected officials were thrown out of office or denied advancement. Voters across the nation expressed their growing dissatisfaction with Republican leadership.

Twelve years of Republican majorities have witnessed expansive corporate welfare, ineffective industrial subsidization and the increasing federalization of education and health care. The GOP Congress has responded to failing federal initiatives with equally unsustainable programs, and Americans have learned the hard way that a government cannot spend away its own inefficiency.

Many Republican leaders have demonstrated little commitment to one or more of our conservative principles—limited government, individual liberty, free-market enterprise and belief in the sanctity of life.

Our bourgeoning government has used program after program to seize paychecks of Americans and line the pockets of corporate giants and politically charged organizations.

These measures have stunted the growth of a free American market and squandered our people’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Fragmented into competitive sub-strata, the political right has lost its focus and the Republican Party its sense of direction. We must find common ground and unite under the mantle of freedom. Conservative unity won the presidential nomination of Barry Goldwater and landslide victories for President Ronald Reagan. Adherence to our essential principles by Republican leaders will return conservatism to triumph in our traditional two party system.

The battle conservatives face and must fight is for the recognition of the individual, in both our moral culture and in our marketplace. The human being is set apart by his ability of self-direction. The faculty of reason and control of one’s actions and intentions belongs to humankind alone. In this capacity, individuals reflect their inherent dignity of beings created in the image of God, and from this they derive their natural and unalienable right to human liberty.

We on the right are particularly equipped to defend human freedoms, for we embrace a tradition established in the United States by our Founders and ordered in the universe by our God: the understanding that the state of a society is determined by the liberty of and choices made by each of its members. As Americans we are entitled to political and economic freedom as individuals; because we were willed one-by-one into existence by our Creator, our lives have uninfringeable worth.

The realm of liberty is not merely fiscal but moral and cultural as well; the conservative aim of limited government can only be furthered when the close connection between moral culture, religious freedom, and economic development is recognized. Individuals and markets must be liberated in tandem. To safeguard the right of the individual to determine the way in which he or she works, procures wages, and sustains his or her existence is to defend the sanctity of human life, while policies that support the traditional family, protect innocent life, and encourage personal responsibility provide for a culture conducive to self-government.

The crossroads at which we find our country has made the integral connection between the personal and economic liberties envisioned by our Founders and our moral culture abundantly clear. Two generations have passed since the Great Society programs of the 1960s chipped away at the traditional family, setting government dependency where social ties and the empowerment of the market once stood. Our nation still reels from the aftershock.

Our rights to private property and our freedom of enterprise ring stunningly hollow in light of the government’s ability to seize our homes and to dictate the way we conduct our businesses and manage our bank accounts. The concept that birthed the greatest nation in the world has been forgotten. In the sweltering Philadelphia heat, 55 patriots conceived a Republic unlike any other; a federation of states bound by a government of narrowly defined powers. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the state and federal levels were the subjects and servants of the people. It seems our roles have been reversed.

Much work must be done to restore our nation to the greatness envisioned by our Founders. Though the problems we face are complex, their solutions are, as Reagan observed upon Goldwater’s candidacy 43 years ago, surprisingly simple: Conservatives, Americans, must find “the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.”