F.A. Hayek said in his 1960 essay, “Why I Am Not A Conservative,” that because conservatism tends to resist change, “by it’s very nature, it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving.” He noted that, “the tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction,” and that he, “personally cannot be content with simply helping to apply the brake.” Neither can I. Neither can you. Were he with us today, Hayek would join in the demand for radical change in 2016.
We millions who insist on change—in the direction we’re going and the kind of government that leads us—must be savvy buyers, indeed. Emotion—political curb appeal—may affect us, but in this election year, sitting down with a pad and pen, and a bit of reason, is useful. Under the title of “2016 Resolution,” we can lay out three columns: What We Want, What We’ll Take, Who Will Do It.
There’s one more thing to consider. In the same book with the Hayek piece, there’s a collection of writings, all under the banner of “What Is Conservatism?” as edited by Frank S. Meyer, former senior editor of National Review (the book was originally published in 1964, and recently reissued with the imprint of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute). I zeroed in on Meyer’s own end-piece, where he points to a “great divergence among conservatives as to the degree to which the state must be limited.” There exists among conservatives, he said, “a common understanding, despite sharp differences in emphasis.” Even as it comes from fifty years ago, that’s polite-speak for widely diverging views, with respect for the differences, but unlike our friends on the progressive side of things, my own “2016 Resolution” cribsheet is not an attempt at political engineering for all. It’s one attempt at a rational paradigm.
In this space, it would be impossible to talk about every issue confronting us—ISIS terror, immigration, taxation, abortion, Second Amendment rights, defense, healthcare, the economy, Russian power games, and what government does and funds, just to name a few—but let’s take two:
What We Want: We want its defeat and nothing less. Any religious tangent or ideology that seeks to subjugate everyone else is little different than the scourge of polio or smallpox, and must be eradicated, as Francois Hollande said, “pitilessly.” We want firm, forceful leadership without committing new ground/combat troops except as an absolute last resort. We insist that Iran stand down and back up the threat with cyber, air, and financial war, and that goes for any other Middle Eastern miscreant intent on disturbing peace. All the while, we will preserve and protect our relationship with Israel and make no apologies about it.
What We’ll Take: From strength, we may dicker a bit with Iran and Syria, to name two, but the major points of What We Want remain. We will not engineer regime change anywhere unless doing so would eliminate a substantial threat to the US homeland and its citizens. Middle Eastern nations have to keep their own peace, and Putin has to play in his own sandbox.
What We Want: The world is still the world and many peoples envy and hate us. National self-interest is nothing to feel guilty about. For the homeland and all who live in it, we want our northern and southern borders sealed and protected, electronically or otherwise, and we want secure coasts, rail, and shipping. We are not a European Union/Open Borders society and never will be. All immigrants, refugees or otherwise, must be thoroughly vetted, if possible, and if necessary, “quarantined” until we know their true intentions. They must want to become Americans—as we define ourselves. Do they add to our culture, labor force, and way of life—or not? As in Ellis Island days, those deemed “unfit” within reasonable limits, will not be welcome. No matter their origin or presence in the US, all immigrants must be registered with local, state, and federal authorities. Non-registrants, criminals, and those abusing social & financial support systems will be deported. Illegals will have to find a path to legitimacy or face penalties. In the end, vast numbers of immigrants will be permitted residency as they earn membership in our American family.
What We’ll Take: We may define criminal behavior more carefully (to preclude deportation for a speeding ticket, etc.) and we may permit limited use of the welfare system. Too, we may stretch out deadlines for legitimization possibilities, but not by much.
Other views may differ slightly or substantially, but most sensible Americans I listen to are in the ballpark above. Many also believe that like the Hoover Commission after WWII, we must take a hard look at national government functions, agencies, and responsibilities, first defunding all inappropriate initiatives and finally, reducing its footprint substantially within one presidential term. Mutual respect matters because together, we will choose the Republican nominee, and if done well, we will be choosing the next President of the United States, someone who can reverse mediocre leadership’s slide toward global oblivion, and retake our place as world pace master of an economic and political powerhouse.
Who Will Do It is yet a blank space. Just as Reagan was “too conservative” for establishmentarians in 1976, we need another Reaganesque someone who will, with real leadership, quell the murder storms of faux religious zealotry, re-make the face of government, and make the pursuit of happiness more than a dream for working Americans. Resolving to win in November is the first step in charting a new course of history.