Allen B. West

Today I’m outing myself as a liberal: a classical liberal.

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Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at two Eagle Forum events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — it was my first time in the “City of Champions” — Steel City Pittsburgh. After those two venues I was invited to the Michigan GOP State Convention in Novi. It was a true honor to meet so many great folks and reunite with those I’d met previously at Spring Arbor University, Jackson, and at the Romeo TEA Party. There was certainly plenty of energy and enthusiasm in the convention hall and floor as candidates and their supporters rallied the delegates for support. The Friday night Christian Coalition dinner was really awesome, where we wholeheartedly felt the influence of many black pastors in attendance.

However, what stuck in my mind was this phenomenon of “conservatism.” Everyone was vying for the esteemed title of “conservative.” Some candidates were claiming they were more conservative than this or that other one. As I departed Saturday afternoon to head back home, Sitting in the Detroit Airport, I wondered if I had asked 100 people, could they have been able to explain conservatism?

First of all, let’s establish this point: modern conservatism is classical liberalism as developed by English political philosopher John Locke. His basic principles were the personal rights of life, liberty, and property. Clearly, today’s “post modern liberal” has nothing in common with John Locke. Today’s liberalism has more in common with Marxism/progressivism/socialism — but as with all things Leftist, the lexicon is changed in order to mask true identity and intentions.

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So Thomas Jefferson took Locke’s principles and revised them to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (as opposed to the progressive socialists’ guarantee of happiness).

The point is that conservatism is a philosophy of governance which advocates and promotes individuals and their rights — as opposed to collective group rights, mind you. Conservatism is a political ideology that is not dependent upon political party, but is defined by principle. Locke supported the idea of the social contract which means government is entrusted by the people with certain powers for their protection. Jefferson referred to this in the Declaration of Independence as the “consent of the governed” — hence why we have representative government.

Conservative principles are rooted in our foundational documents the Declaration and Constitution — by way of limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual sovereignty, free market economy, and national security (common defense). I would add a sixth principle of traditional family values.

Now, those principles should be guides in the creation of policy by which this nation is supposed to be governed. Case in point: common core was a big issue at the Michigan GOP convention — which we have written about here. I oppose common core because I am a conservative and therefore do not support government education standards. It is not an enumerated power of the federal government. After all, why do we have local school boards if the federal government should take a top down direct approach?

No conservative would ever support a program such as common core. Standards in education are vital but should be developed from the state and local levels — that reflects the conscience of a conservative. The federal government’s role is to ensure that every child — American and legal immigrant — has an equal access to a quality education which means supporting choices in education and not cronyism by way of teachers unions. Conservatives deplore economic cronyism because it is antithetical to free market/free enterprise.

Furthermore, common core was never presented as policy to be debated within the House of Representatives or Senate. It was never developed in a legislative committee and presented before the elected representatives of the people — therefore it is inconsistent with the concept of “consent of the governed.” As a matter of fact, it is being used as a tool to bribe states into receive federal financial assistance for education — which could also be considered blackmail.

To put conservatism in a simple analogy, take for example Booker T. Washington’s three pronged agenda of education, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance — that is the essence of conservative thought; setting the conditions for the pursuit of happiness of individual American citizens. It is all about their unalienable rights.

When government operates under the guiding principles of conservatism, you have growth, opportunity, and promise — an equality of opportunity, not the progressive socialist mantra of equality of outcomes. And government advances policies that seek the economic empowerment for the individual, not their economic enslavement by way of the bribery or personal largesse that retards the individual’s will and determination — it takes away the desire to pursue happiness as they await their guarantee.

When the government operates within its prescribed constitutional roles and responsibilities, it will be fiscally responsible – it must be. And if government is fiscally responsible, it will promote individual sovereignty and in so doing advance education, ingenuity, innovation, and investment — since government is not usurping individuals’ financial resources. If that is the case, you have a thriving free market economy — not a government spending-based economy.

However, in the end, we must keep Americans safe and that means focusing on the number one priority of the federal government — the common defense. Conservatives believe in peace through strength, not nation building and spreading democracy. We prefer reducing the conditions under which evil can thrive so to ensure liberty can actually take root — but we don’t believe it should be forced.

Lastly, yep, we support life, because life is the first of the unalienable rights and life is created by one man and one woman, the American family. It does not mean we don’t support those who believe their “pursuit of happiness” may be with someone of the same sex — but we don’t condone destroying a fundamental institution to accommodate a small collective group.

Simple, and to the point, that is what conservatism is, and it has been time tested and always proven best for a nation. Its opposition, progressive socialism, has never been successful, so why are we undergoing this “fundamental transformation” in America? It’s simple, our education system has been taken over by progressives who don’t teach our children the founding philosophy of governance of America — classical liberalism, conservatism.

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