Conservatives need to act like it

Sir Edmund Burke is often cited as the founder of modern conservatism. In fact, Russell Kirk starts his profound work “The Conservative Mind” by profiling Burke.

So what does Burke say about who should govern, how they should govern, and what constitutes liberty?

He says: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

In other words, as conservatives, we believe in electing people for their judgment and abilities – not to succumb to our popular, and sometimes ravenous, whims.

On governing he advises “All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.”

This is pretty self-explanatory, but Burke is saying that compromise and coming to consensus on major issues, in, yes, a “bipartisan” way is positive. Compromise should be a goal, not derided.

And of liberty, he believed: “But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”

In other words, don’t let passion overcome reason. Don’t let anarchy overcome judgment.

In 2008, liberals in this country embraced “Hope” and “Change” – they allowed their emotions and passions to sweep them away in the cult of personality.

These insatiable passions have given us government intrusion into our banking system, our automotive industry, our energy sector, and, yes, our health care.

To a certain extent, since the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, some conservatives have also been on a trajectory propelled by an equally fervent zeal.

Some conservatives want immediate and rapid change in government spending, services, and structure.

There is nothing wrong with this enthusiasm and energy – but it has to be matched with prudence and judgment.

This week, with Rick Santorum dropping out of the race, Republicans are likely to nominate Mitt Romney for president. All throughout the campaign he was derided as a RINO.

Yet here is a man who managed to govern liberal Massachusetts as a conservative; here’s a man with the intellectual capacity to govern our nation with sobriety and stability.

The shared conservative goals of limited government, promotion of the free market, and fiscal responsibility need to be the backbone for conservatism. But they also have to be implemented with prudence and judgment, lest conservatives never get elected again.

Burke would applaud the modern conservative enthusiasm, provided it was tempered with a little, well, conservatism.

And in this era, where the left keeps moving further left – conservatism is exactly the remedy we need – with all hands on deck for the effort.

  • reality

    NICE! Capt. JR.

  • reality

    you know the real reason Patrick Henry stated “Give me liberty or give me death?”

    His father-in-law had given him a 1000 acres of his Kings Grant for a wedding present and Patrick went off and sold it without telling his wife or his father-in-law.

    They were driving him mad and he couldn’t take it anymore.

  • Governing like a conservative means signing state-mandated health insurance?

    Look, I’m voting for the guy (and I plan on volunteering as well) don’t get me wrong, but lets not insult everyone’s intelligence and pretend he something he isn’t. Mitt Romney just isn’t a conservaitve, and that’s fine. I’d rather we all just admit that and move forward than trying to be convinced he something he just is not.

  • reality

    I think part of JR’s point and correct me if I’m wrong, we’re in for a real battle literally for life and death. We need to unite and fight the opposition as a united team all differences aside until the battle is won and the danger subsided. Then we can debate the details.

    And I’m as guilty as anyone about what you said about Romney. But needs to stop. The mission is defeat Obama & Co. and we need no distraction or division until the mission is accomplished.

    Right or wrong JR?

  • Chris, the man is a conservative. You seriously want to call him out on the health care plan there when conservative Republicans were touting mandates in 1993-94 as a response to Hillarycare?

    Sometimes I really think the Democrats are right when they say Reagan couldn’t get the nomination in today’s party. He raised taxes, supported the Buffett Rule, exploded the national debt and increased the size of government, yet he’s a conservative icon. Romney signed one law that people don’t like (except in Massachusetts) that doesn’t affect anyone outside of Massachusetts and that’s enough to veto everything else he did in office?

    Come on.

  • reality – correct. That being said, there are some conservatives who want to do whole-scale dramatic changes to government too – which, quite frankly, is radical and may not be in a true conservative’s long-term interest. Conservatives do things prudently and efficiently. And, sometimes, it takes time to reach the ultimate goal.

  • Oh I’m uniting, don’t get me wrong. I’m voting for Romney, I’m going to volunteer for Romney, I’m going to do all I can for Romney. Any conservative who doesn’t vote for Romney needs some help because the alternative is disasterious.

    But the man isn’t a conservative. Is he a good man? Sure. Is he capabale of being a good president? Sure. Can he win? Absolutely. But he’s not a conservative.

    BTW, that is WHY conservatives need to get behind him because if we don’t, and he wins, we are shut out for at least eight more years. We need to own a part of a Romney presidency and we cannot be blamed for a Romney defeat.

    Because Romney is not a conservative is exactly why conservatives MUST get behind him and force our way to the high table.

  • It took 80 years to get us into the mess we’re in today.

    It’s not going to be fixed in the first 6 months of the Romney administration… or the Ron Paul administration, etc.

    First things first — you stop the bleeding. Then you wean people off of government. If the system were transformed with a magic wand into Libertopia tomorrow, we’d have a revolt on our hands as people clamored for government jobs, Medicare, Social Security, subsidies, grants, etc.

    It’s going to take time, folks… and by time, I mean a generation or two. Liberals think in these terms; conservatives playing for keeps should do likewise.

  • That’s funny, Chris, because in 2008 Romney was the conservative.

    If you think comments made long ago on life are enough to make him not conservative or having vetoes overridden by the MA legislature on healthcare make him not conservative, that’s your deal.

    Personally, I just think you’re repeating talking points made by Romney’s Republican opponents trying to run to his right – unsuccessfully.

    I’ll take a pro-growth, pro-life, pro-economy, pro-jobs Mitt Romney any day of the week.

    He has endorsed the Ryan budget. He has been critical of Chinese economic practices. He has a prudent foreign policy that negotiates from strength, not weakness. He has vowed to repeal ObamaCare.

    If that’s not conservative, I don’t know what is.

  • Reagan used to be pro-choice too.

    I just don’t get this whole “Romney’s not conservative” argument.

  • Sorry fellas — Romney isn’t pro-life. He’s going to have to do something (or promise something) spectacular to prove to me that he indeed will govern his newfound convictions on life…

  • Brian Kirwin

    Shaun, why?

    We know what Supreme Court nominees Obama picks.

    If Romney nominates pro-life, and to get Senate Republicans he will have to, I have all I need.

  • Bush and Miers totally throws that one for a loop.

    I agree that there are four reasons to vote Romney: Kennedy, Scalia, Ginsberg, and Breyer.

    …but are we going to get Roberts and Alito quality SCOTUS appointees? Or are we going to get Harriet Miers redux?

    That’s what scares pro-lifers… and should, quite frankly.

  • JR . . . first, all I can do is speak for myself and I’ve never supported Mitt one day since 2007 – I always thought McCain was more conservative than Romney.

    Second, they weren’t made THAT long ago. People keep tossing Ronnie’s name around, but Reagan has my very favorite quote of all times . . . “trust be verify.” That’s all I’m doing.

  • Chris – you’re a smart, well-spoken, and intelligent conservative. I’m looking forward to the rest of this campaign as we are allies fighting for lower taxes and a flatter tax code, bring jobs back to the US from overseas, and appointing judges that will follow the Constitution, not legislate from the bench. Our candidate will do that – and will repeal ObamaCare and overhaul excessive regulations made by unelected bureaucrats. This is going to be a time I will look back when I am older and be proud that conservatives stood together to turn this country back around.

  • You’re right Shaun. It will take time. Lyndon Johnson literally destroyed a great conservative culture. A culture Republicans originally cultivated. Now the Democrats are reaping the benefits.

    We do not want to emulate LBJ, but we need to do some serious educating.

  • Whit

    Friedman said it best when he proclaimed that the best you can usually hope for is to elect a man that can be convinced its in his best political interest to do the right thing. Romney hasn’t shown that ability YET (Gingrich for all his faults was a master of this) but he is who we have and we will have to find the good. In a year that Obama must be defeated, the stinker that is and was RomneyCare will be hard to square. Putting lipstick on that pig isn’t the solution. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, no question.

  • I get really tired of having conservatism boiled down to abortion and taxes. There is more to our philosophy than that. Romney is a conservative.

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