When I am in my car by myself I typically turn on talk radio. Probably 90% of the time I am listening to a Republican. It might be an old habit from my Republican days that I haven’t broken, but I do like to hear the conservative spin on the news. I often think I should call in but I never have, and I’m not sure they’d tolerate what I have to say anyway. But it helps me get my thoughts going and definitely helps to form my arguments when I talk to Republicans.
Last week, on whatever show I was listening to, the host had on Dr. Paul Kengor to discuss his new book, “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative“. Conservatives really like Reagan, and I’d guess that most like to be considered “Reagan Conservatives”, so Kengor set out to define what exactly a Reagan Conservative is. His 11 Principles are:
4. Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
5. American Exceptionalism
6. The Founders’ Wisdom and Vision
7. Lower Taxes
8. Limited Government
9. Peace Through Strength
11. Belief in the Individual
I really think this is probably a good list of Reagan conservative principles. In fact, I used to consider myself a Reagan conservative until I realized the contradictions in my beliefs. They seem obvious to me now, but at the time it wasn’t, and I was in denial for a long time. The most obvious problems with these beliefs are probably the sanctity of life going with a giant military, and the wisdom and vision of the founders. If you ever read American history, you’ll find that the founders didn’t agree on much. Hamilton and Jefferson had vastly different visions of the country. but I want to focus on a more subtle problem with this list, numbers 7-9,
Reagan Conservatives love to say they do not bend on principles. Their principles are their foundation and you cannot compromise! So what happens if the conservatives sweep the next election and lower taxes to 20% across the board? Will they still be in favor of lower taxes? For the next election would they lower taxes to 10%, then 5%, then 2%? If they did, would they still be in favor of lower taxes?
What would they think of their limited government if they got taxes lowered to 2%? They might have to raise their taxes in order to fund that limited government. How are they going to fund their giant military if we continue to lower taxes? Is it really peaceful to force your views on others? I wonder if the Iraqis are happy with the peace we’ve provided?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe we can and should defend ourselves as a group or individually. I just don’t see how it makes sense to fund our defense through taxation. If it is so important, we would protect ourselves however we see fit. We don’t need the government to feed us (no matter how hard they try), we don’t need them for housing, we don’t need them for healthcare (the next generation might disagree) and we don’t need them for protection.
I like conservatives. I think their hearts are in the right place, I just think they’d be better off if they focused on principle 11 a little more.