What is a Conservative?
by Michael Chambers
To identify what is the definition of a conservative, it is essential that we acknowledge the "Godfather" of Conservative ideology in the 21st century, and that was William F. Buckley.
William F. Buckley described himself as a "Conservative Libertarian" which is a political ideology that promotes "limited government" and increased individual responsibility.
In Alaska, the greatest harm we have committed is to allow Republican candidates and politicians to define "conservative values" for the general public. This has caused massive harm to the conservative community. We have way too many "Republicans" who profess to be conservative when all they are doing is using the "R" insignia to get elected. They must be identified for who they really are politically. Many of them are larger "Big Government" spenders than their Democrat counterparts.
While there are degrees of conservative ideology, we must agree to identify foundational values. If an individual does not acknowledge these foundational conservative values, it is impossible to declare that they are, indeed, a conservative no matter what they tell the general public.
The first essential value is to acknowledge that government is not the answer to the challenges one encounters in life. A true conservative is steadfast regarding the limited relationship of the individual and its government. In America, our founders clearly spelled out the consent to be governed through the "Enumerated Powers." These specific powers were granted through ratification by "We the People" to allow the mechanism of government. Here is a link to the Enumerated Powers and their limitations. Ultimately, the responsibility of the federal government is to protect the freedom, security and liberty of all American citizens.
The "Anti-federalists" demanded that the first Continental Congress took up the first 10 amendments known as the "Bill of Rights." this act is known as "The Great Compromise." Not only was the federal government bound by specific Enumerated powers but the Bill of Rights were enacted to clearly define rights given by our creator.
Free will given by our creator is individual in nature and certainly does not represent "organized" power. This is precisely why the cornerstone of conservatism is spiritual in nature and calls for individual accountability.
All other powers granted from "The consent of the governed"" are established through legislative process in the individual states through the 10th amendment. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Louis Brandeis was the first to popularize the phrase that individual states “are the laboratories of democracy.”
The major challenge of the enumerated powers is interpretation of its powers. The elastic clause is a prime example where representatives and progressive courts attempt to redefine the scope of the enumerated powers.
So where does this leave a Constitutional Conservative? Recently, legislation has been proposed that all legislation must identify where the legislation derives its powers through the federal enumerated powers. This proposed legislation is called "The Enumerated Powers Act" which, although it has gained wide support, the legislation has not been passed into law. I would mention that the representative branch of the US Congress has adapted the Enumerated Powers Act in its legislative rules, so there is hope we can return to a degree of hemming in the powers of the federal government.
So what are the values of conservatism?
It is incongruent to attempt to dissect conservatism from morality as the practice of conservatism has substantial spiritual roots. In America, you can research these spiritual roots back to the beginnings of European migrants to the new world. There is no doubt that the American experience was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Considering the founders, although many were Deists, the majority were Christian. This is precisely why the ongoing Continental Convention started and ended with prayers each day to the "Christian" God asking for guidance.
Although Benjimin Franklin was recognized as a deist, here is a famous quote from him...
“The moral and religious system which Jesus Christ transmitted to us is the best the world has ever seen, or can see.“
— Benjamin Franklin
So, given this, lets define foundational conservative values.
1. Belief in substantially limited government.
2. No forms of subsidies
3. Public Education is a function of State Government, period.
4. The decision, definition and directive of right to life belongs with the state not the federal government.
5. Welfare and entitlement programs are a function of respective states.
6. Healthcare is a function of the state. The federal government has no right to mandate healthcare options.
7. The state Constitution, enacted laws and referendums belong to the people of the state and cannot be ignored without retribution.
8. The Permanent Fund and the dividend program which is generated from the "fund" belongs to the people.
9. The citizens have a right to convene a Grand Jury to investigate all acts of the state.
10. Any judicial appointments of the state must be confirmed by a majority of representatives.
11. The AG of the state belongs to "The People" and must be elected by the people.
12. The University of Alaska system is a private system which is a land grant university. It has ZERO standing soliciting money to maintain a system of higher education.
13. Home Rule communities like Anchorage are exempt from revenues of the State.