First, conservatism is alive and well in America; don’t let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don’t mean the warmed-over “raise your hand if you believe …” kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I’m speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition. The understanding that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things when not subjugated by a too-powerful government. These are the principles that inspired our Founding Fathers, and resulted in a Constitution that delineated the powers of the central government, established checks and balances among the branches of government and further diffused governmental power by a system of Federalism.
Second, change – whether it “real change,” “bold change” or the “change we can believe in” variety others are selling – isn’t itself an innovative policy or a particularly strong leadership stance. In fact, from Burke to Buckley, there has been an acknowledgement that change in the political arena is inevitable and necessary, and we in the U.S. tend to experience it in regular, 2, 4 and 6 year intervals, so 2008 is hardly our first rodeo. The challenge for conservatives is calibrating whether the change being proposed is consistent with our principles and our philosophy, and whether that change is appropriate.
Our nation has some serious issues to work through for today … and for the next generation. Now isn’t the time for conservatives to be looking for a tailored message or a politically expedient route to victory if the end result is going to be the inevitable slide toward the liberalization and secularization of America, and the growth of government and loss of freedom that inevitably ensues. For us conservatives it must be about principles and policies that are grounded in freedom, free markets and the rule of law. That’s what I’ve been talking and writing about for the past few years, and that’s what I want to talk write about here on Townhall and in the new Townhall Magazine.
I joined Townhall and am writing exclusive commentaries for Townhall Magazine because I see them elevating the discourse on issues based on these principles -- smaller government, individual liberty, standing for common values that have become all too uncommon, a strong national defense and, most of all, an optimism and belief in America.
I’m glad to be back here in familiar territory, and we’ll be talking to you soon.
UPDATE: Appearance on Fox & Friends Friday morning to discuss Bush's speech, Obama's overreaction and Townhall Magazine.
Fred Thompson has been a lawyer, actor and United States Senator. He writes exclusive analysis and commentary for Townhall Magazine.