On Jan. 17, over 100 conservatives gathered at the University of Virginia to discuss the future of conservatism in Virginia. Jamie Radtke, longtime conservative advocate, outlined for the audience some key points to consider for the future of this movement:
“The truth that man possessed God-given rights that could not be taken away by government were given concrete expression here in Virginia first. Thomas Jefferson further enumerated in the Declaration of Independence that it was the moral responsibility of government to protect and defend our rights to life, liberty and property and that. In a Republic, the people are sovereign, not the government.
“The time is long overdue on a national and state level that we reclaim the party conservatives founded. We can no longer allow it to be co-opted by bastard Democrats and rudderless Republicans. We can ill-afford to continue diluting our message so that everyone fits in our tent. What good is broadening our tent for the sole objective of attaining power if the power isn’t used for good? Or if the power is used to limited our rights rather than expand them?
“The situation is challenging. As conservatives, we must draw a line in the sand. We must repudiate what the GOP has done in recent years. If not, we will have no credibility. The time has come to: stop the slow erosion of our rights and liberties, stop defending bad policy, and speak the truth.
This is why we have gathered here today.
“So what should our principles be? We will collectively decide this together in our work groups. However, for the purposes of discussion, I would like to suggest some ideas on which many of us agree. These principles are:
“At a very basic level we restrict the role of government and champion the Constitution and thereby promote our God-given right of individual liberty—the most precious of gifts.
“We believe that the purpose of government should be strictly limited to protecting life, liberty, and property and punishing those who do evil. Government oversteps its authority when it attempts to expand beyond this purpose. It is not the responsibility of government to meet our needs, and it is especially not the role of government to satisfy our wants. As stated by Gerald Ford,
“Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.
“In restricting the purpose of government, we further understand the importance of the principles we defend. They are:
• Limiting government so that it only serves to protect our liberties and give us the ability to protect ourselves.
• Curtailing government spending and limiting taxes so that 1) wealth is the property of the people rather than the government 2) our needs and wants are satisfied by the ingenuity and hard work of people and 3) government stays within its legitimate and defined purposes.
• Protecting all life as a precious gift from God, whether unborn, sick or senior.
• Safeguarding the right to defend ourselves, and supporting the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
• Limiting the right of government to seize property under eminent domain
• Resisting the invasion of government into our private lives.
• Defending the constitution. (You know, judicial activism is wrong not because judges rule contrary to our personal beliefs. It is wrong because it is governance by judicial fiat. It strips the power from the people and their elected representatives and places that power in the hands of an unelected judicial body.)
“So where does that leave us? I’m sure we all agree on all or most of the principles I just stated. Our challenge as conservatives has rarely been on agreeing on principles. It is on the message and execution.
“I would like to propose a message. I would like to propose that our message be that we are united
and we are willing to stand by each other. Let me be clear: I believe that this is critical to our success.
“We must agree that my issue is as important yours. The pro-lifers must stand beside the anti-taxers, who must stand beside the libertarian, who must stand beside the gun owners, the defenders of civil liberties, and the homeschoolers. It is not enough to be willing to defend the cause that is most important to you. We must be willing to fight for the cause that is most important to our fellow conservatives. If we do not stand together, we will absolutely fail in our quest to build a conservative majority in Virginia again.
“Let’s agree on principles. Let’s agree on message. Let’s agree to be loyal to our conservative coalition. Let’s agree that the battle isn’t too long, the relationships aren’t too challenging, and the personal sacrifice isn’t too large.
“There is no better way to conclude than to quote one of the greatest conservatives to ever live, Ronald Reagan:
'The time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny, to take it into our own hands. But, to do this will take many of us, working together. I ask you to volunteer your help in this cause so we can carry our message throughout the land.'
“Thank you again for opportunity to speak to all of you. I am grateful for your indulgence and I look forward to the rest of the day with you!”