Traditionalists see themselves as guardians of our unique Constitution, which secures liberty as a byproduct of pitting levels and branches of government against one another.
They believe that unless we rededicate ourselves, intellectually and emotionally, to our founding ideal of individual liberty -- as opposed to succumbing to the insidious, intoxicating, cowardly promise of government-provided security at all levels of our existence -- we can kiss liberty -- and the United States of America as we have known it -- goodbye.
Part of the problem is that we have enjoyed such unparalleled freedoms and prosperity that we have been lulled into the false notion that they will continue in perpetuity, even as we betray, to ever-greater extremes, our founding principles. But traditionalists understand that there is a tipping point beyond which this incessant socialist piggybacking on our capitalistic economic system and these ever-deepening encroachments on our scheme of government (for example, through judicial activism) will finally bring us to our knees.
Traditionalists don't oppose this or that "high-minded" plan aimed at delivering security (e.g., health care) or prosperity (e.g., direct transfer payments from producers to nonproducers) because they don't want more people to be prosperous but because they do and because they cherish freedom. We know that socialism never works and always results in less prosperity, on top of its obvious freedom-stripping inevitabilities.
The nontraditionalists don't seem to share our recognition of the ephemeral nature of liberty -- as if all of human history weren't enough proof. They don't appreciate that by joining liberals intellectually on their turf by simply quibbling over what percentage of abject socialism we'll permit, we are ultimately signing our own national death warrant.
As quaint as it sounds, someone has to advocate a return to first principles. We don't have to concede that America cannot reverse its path toward European socialism. But we will have conceded if we merely try to outdo liberals on their terrain by being "compassionate conservatives."
Our charge is to make the case for liberty and that traditionalism is inherently compassionate. If we don't have the courage to confront the seductive promises of socialism and demonization by the politically correct and pseudo-compassionate, we will surely fail in our duty to bequeath the blessings of liberty to our posterity.