“You do not have to be embarrassed to be conservative,” Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) said to a gathering of conservative high school students at Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “This agenda works, what we believe in works,” said Perdue.
Turning Point USA “is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded on June 5, 2012 by Charlie Kirk. The organization’s mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”
Conservatives often claim to believe in the Constitution, limited government, federalism, individual freedom, private property, traditional values, and the free market.
The Free Society Buy New $19.95 (as of 09:55 EDT - Details) In practice, however, conservatives are very selective when it comes to the application of their beliefs. They don’t follow the Constitution in many areas. Their agenda is a government limited to one controlled by conservatives. They don’t accept states’ rights when it comes to certain issues. They don’t accept the freedom of individuals to do anything that’s peaceful. They don’t believe in the inviolability of private property. They think traditional values should be legislated by government. And they don’t yearn for free market in everything.
Here are ten issues where the typical listeners to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity fall short just like their talk show hosts.
Taxation. Conservatives continually say that they favor lower taxes. But they view tax reform as unacceptable unless it is revenue neutral. Tax deductions, credits, and loopholes that allow some Americans to keep more of their money should be eliminated in the name of “simplifying” the tax code. “The rich” should pay their fair share via a progressive tax system. They don’t oppose taxes on principle, and they don’t view taxation as government theft. They believe that the government has a claim to a certain percentage of every American’s income. They believe that a person’s acquiring someone’s property by force is wrong, but that the same action when done by government is legitimate. And they fully support refundable tax credits, which are nothing but a form of welfare.
Education. Conservatives complain about the dumbing down of kids, the increasing violence, the anti-Christian bias, the liberal agenda, and the decline in discipline and standards in public schools. But they typically have no problem with government-provided education and the forcing of Americans who object to public schools or keep their children out of public schools to pay for it. They propose band-aids to “fix” or “reform” public education like restoring prayer and Bible reading, posting the Ten Commandments, vouchers for “school choice,” streamlining the education bureaucracy, proposing higher standards, or mandating school uniforms instead of saying that no government at any level should be involved in any way, shape, or form with anyone’s education or the funding of anyone’s education.
Free Trade. Conservatives say they believe in free trade. But they typically confound government-managed trade agreements with real free trade, support free trade only if it is “fair trade,” or call for some tariffs in the name of “national security.” They rightly criticize the centrally planned economies of communist countries and the socialism and extensive government intervention in the economies of European countries, but then they call for Soviet-style central planning by the federal government and its hoard of economists to determine which industries need protection, which countries should have the importation of their goods restricted, which items should be subject to tariffs, how much of a tariff should be imposed, what exemptions should be given, and what the duration of the tariff should be. They fail to understand that trade takes place between individuals and businesses, not countries. They fail to understand that free trade needs no trade organizations, trade agreements, or trade treaties. And they fail to grasp that trade is fair when it doesn’t involve government subsidies, crony capitalism, or a government import-export bank.
The Welfare State. Conservatives complain about waste and fraud in welfare programs and say they support limited government and the free market. But they typically support the government providing a safety net, feeding the hungry, keeping people out of poverty, helping those who cannot help themselves, taking care of the aged and disabled, or assisting those who have failed to plan for their retirement. They say they oppose FDR’s New Deal, but they support “saving” or “privatizing” (with forced contributions) its crown jewel, Social Security, so that future generations of young people can support the elderly via an intergenerational, income-transfer, wealth-redistribution welfare scheme. They fail to make the case that charity should be individual, private, and voluntary.
Health Care. Conservatives rail against Obamacare, or at least they used to. But they typically support all manner of government involvement in health care. They say they oppose LBJ’s Great Society, but they are silent about Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003—the greatest expansion of Medicare since LBJ. Like Social Security, conservatives are some of the greatest champions of “protecting” Medicare for seniors. They don’t favor a real free market in health care, the total separation of medicine from the state, the complete deregulation of the health-insurance industry, and the establishment of medical freedom. They believe that some Americans should pay for the health care of other Americans.
The Warfare State. Conservatives say they believe in limited government. But they typically don’t include the military as part of the government. Cutting the bloated defense budget is inconceivable. Closing a domestic military base is unthinkable. Bringing all of the troops home is unimaginable. Scrapping a weapons system is out of the question. Invading and occupying other countries is viewed as defensive warfare. Bombing, maiming, and killing whomever the government labels as “the enemy” is viewed as defending our freedoms. Conservatives generally support empire, torture, and interventionism abroad while defending the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, surveillance at home. Free Trade or Protecti... Buy New $5.95 (as of 09:25 EDT - Details)
Foreign aid. Conservatives claim that they want to cut welfare. But they typically support foreign aid; that is, giving away billions of dollars looted from American taxpayers to foreign governments, agencies, NGOs, and contractors. They have no philosophical objection to the U.S. government bribing corrupt foreign regimes with cash and military equipment to obey U.S. dictates as long as they support U.S. hegemony, the “war on terror,” and don’t criticize the government of Israel too much. But if it is illegitimate for the U.S. government to dispense welfare to its own citizens, then it is certainly inappropriate to bestow welfare on foreigners.
Anti-discrimination Laws. Conservatives say they believe in freedom and property rights. But they typically support anti-discrimination laws even though they are an attack not only on the Constitution, limited government, free enterprise, private property, and individual freedom, but also on freedom of association, freedom of contract, and freedom of thought. They just oppose the efforts of liberals to include as part of anti-discrimination laws sexual orientation and sexual identity. They don’t believe employers should have the right to discriminate in hiring for any reason. They don’t believe in the absolute right of business owners to refuse service to anyone on any basis.
Gun control. Conservatives say they support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control. But they typically support the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), waiting periods for gun purchases, and federal licensing of gun dealers. They fail to recognize that the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have anything to do with guns or gun control. They fail to understand that the Second Amendment has no exceptions. They fail to realize that it is the guns owned by federal, state, and local bureaucrats and cops that need to be controlled.
The Drug War. Conservatives say they believe in the limited government, federalism, individual freedom, private property, traditional values, and the free market. But they don’t believe in any of these things when it comes to the war on drugs. In fact, they are typically the most ardent of drug warriors. They don’t believe that anyone should have the individual freedom to use drugs for recreational purposes, even on his own property. They oppose a free market in drugs. They oppose letting the states make their own drug laws. They don’t want the federal government to have limited powers when it comes to waging war on drugs. They support the federal Controlled Substances Act, the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, even though there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to have any of these agencies. And what traditional value is being practiced when conservatives support the government’s locking people in cages for possessing too much of a plant the government doesn’t approve of?
Conservatives should be embarrassed. They should be embarrassed that they are not libertarians.