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There seems to be much confusion regarding the meanings of the many labels ascribed to political theories and ideologies on the right. I want to be careful with the term "ideology" being that it denotes some ideal that does not exist in reality or presuppose violations of natural law by the state, not all viewpoints on the right are ideological. Little discussion will focus on the political left. I don't want to bog down my point with defining the myriad leftist labels, rather solely focus on the political right.
First some basics; the party of the left is the Democratic party, simple enough. However, the root word democracy, contrary to leftist demagoguery, is in and of itself tyrannical. Majoritarianism is using the coercive arm of government to violate the natural rights of the minority. For example, my natural inviolate rights can be violated at the behest of a 51% majority. The rights of the 49% are not considered and are forcibly contravened by either a static or temporary majority (it's irrelevant the exact percentage of the minority and majority, so long as one individual's natural rights are violated). It's no coincidence that the 17th amendment was passed during the beginning of the fabian socialist movement.
Our founders and framers never once considered a democracy nor ever use the term in the Constitution itself. They feared just as much as a monarchy, the tyranny of the majority.
Today, we hear that education is a right, healthcare is a right, marriage is a right, and that it's something one can acquire at the polls. But the fact that these "pseudo-rights" come at the expense of someone else's natural rights by force, is rarely mentioned by either party. The Democratic party is an ideology built on increasing their own power at the expense of the individual through a majority vote, they adhere to party rather than natural law and are willing to violate them at the behest of their ever growing power. Equality is achieved by the have-nots voting for the property of the haves.
The party of the political right is the Republican party. The root word Republic denotes power belonging to each individual, not the majority (in the context of our Constitutional Republic). Government must follow a guideline that protects the sovereignty of the individual, not the majority or the ruling class. I can also elaborate on how the Republican party is not necessarily the party of Lincoln, Coolidge, Goldwater and Reagan, but that wouldn't serve the purpose of this specific explanation and because temporary Republican politicians decide to pervert the party platform does not change the root meaning of the term. I will delve far deeper into those differences later.
There has been little difference between the Democratic party and the Republican party throughout history, both claim to be the defenders of liberty while the growth of government and the subjugation of the individual is their modus operandi. Both are ideologically fixated on maintaining their own power and stranglehold in Washington, earning both the label of statists. The Republicans do not want to change the status quo established by statists from both parties, on the contrary, they want to wield its unconstitutional power. Regardless of party, power is corrupting, rarely in human history have rulers or magistrates willingly gave power back to the individual. There is no longer an opposition party to counter the statists in Washington, DC, excluding a select few.
Take Obamacare for instance, a valid constitutional protection against a temporary majority party line legislation that alienate our natural rights is congress' power of the purse (remember, judicial review is not in the constitution, so checks and balances were put in place for these specific occasions). The Republicans-rather than superfluous repeal votes that they know are not efficacious-can simply defund the law. But why would they, they are agents of the state just as the democrats are. All that matters is appearances as they pander to the ill-informed and apathetic about their ostensible attempts to repeal Obamacare, knowing full well the futility of such obtuse efforts. Remember, the same power this bill gives the Democrats it also bestows upon the Republicans.
The counter-revolution to the status quo of the modern Republican and Democrat statist are those that fight in one way or another for the individual over the state, whether that be by the rule of law (constitutional principles/natural law) or by the laws of economics. Contrary to the ideological premises of the statists, the notion of an individuals rights coming from "our creator" and the rights that affords each individual is far from an idea or an ideal but a demonstrable truth. To satisfy an ideology the state is to coerce the individual and violate their natural rights that are conferred by no man on earth, nor government. In fact, our natural rights have existed far before governments and will certainly outlast them so long as even one individual remains on this earth. Moreover, the essential purpose for the creation of our Republican government was to protect those natural rights from the government itself (through individual sovereignty), our fellow man or from foreign threats of plunder, not to violate said laws using the same power they were given by the people to safeguard them.
adjective 1. holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
Noun 1. a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.
The label "Conservative" is misleading and a misnomer as it pertains to the evolution of governments throughout history (their insatiable appetite for growth and power and the status quo in the United States for the past century). The conservative is not reactionary but adheres to the principles of natural law, that these shall not be violated under any circumstances whatsoever, whether it be by the state, your neighbor, a foreign country or time. These principles undergird the freedom from the state in the political, economic and civil society and allow for mechanisms that perpetuate the empirically superior free market to flourish above all other dirigiste alternatives. The framers of the Constitution were by no means conservatives but battle hardened liberal "radicals" providing the impetus to promulgate individual sovereignty and Constitutional Republicanism in order to preserve the inviolate rights of man (this, in the broader context of the tyrannical nature of government over mankind throughout history before and after the ratification of the Constitution).
The Conservative sees social/moral issues through the circumscribed construct of the Constitution; these societal moral decisions should be made by the representatives closest to the body politic insofar as the body politic themselves have the most amount of input at the most local level possible (Remember, States are supposed to have plenary power by virtue of the Constitution). Mobility between townships, cities, counties and states promotes political competition amongst governments in much the same manner as competitive capitalism amongst firms (this of course is predicated upon the federal government abiding by its enumerated powers). Competitive government closer to the people disincentivizes tyranny and cultivates diversity. The framers had intended for the federal government to be largely innocuous, especially over the individual. This founding principle is why we have the most diverse and tolerant nation on the face of the Earth, regardless of the interested sophistry of race hustlers and statist demagogues.
The Libertarians beliefs are congruent with that of the Conservative, the belief in a limited role of government into the political and economic affairs of the individual. Minarchism is the verity disseminated by both the Conservative and Libertarian. Whereas the Libertarian sees things more from an economic construct, this does not in any way invalidate the Constitution or the Conservative but yields greater understanding of both. The competitive notion of local and state governments has been elided by the federal leviathan intentionally by virtue of the statist seduced with the allure of self-aggrandizement.
Let us examine our drug policy for instance; the Conservative may not understand nor care about the premise that prohibition of recreational drugs creates a far more lucrative market for said drug, or how the drug war yields higher costs to society than benefits. This is irrelevant in a system with competing local and state governments with proper local and federal representation. The Constitution does not ban drugs, the states or the people do, as we have seen with the alcohol prohibition that ended in 1933 (alcohol prohibition was added to the Constitution than later repealed). The difference is/was the demand for alcohol is far greater than the demand for marijuana. However, this is untrue in Colorado and may be untrue elsewhere, depending on how motivated, interested or incisive the drug user is about going through the proper legislative processes. Do not solely blame the Conservative for the prohibition on drugs, rather the user himself who shows no inspiration to petition his legislator for change.
Drug users seem far more apt and willing to pay the cost of using without changing the law. In other words, the immediate and fleeting high of "fill in the blank" drug is worth the cost that the state has imposed on its usage to the user. To the non-user, the public policy on drug possession and use is of no consequence. The advent of medicinal marijuana cards in some states has made the legalization of marijuana a moot issue as the die hard users are able to acquire a card and have no reason to change the longstanding bans. Legislation much like other products and services respond to demand. An individual of either party that are in opposition to the legalization of drugs simply have to do nothing. Those who are for the legalization in either party, but are not dedicated users or do not use at all would not necessarily benefit enough from their time and effort to petition their representatives for change. The rule of law isn't perfect, but it must adhered to.
I am opposed to the war on drugs, but I'm not opposed to localities banning drugs as they see fit. So long as no one is coerced to live there. Much like a firm, if this policy (at the local level) is unwanted and people move to another locality because of it, the only people that would incur the costs are the body politic that passed the law. Moreover, the loss of tax revenue, jobs etc. would force the locality to lift the ban. This can go either way and applies to myriad legislation. Competition between governments is a good thing. However, much like monopoly in the private sector, monopoly in the public sector can only come from the federal government. When the federal government bans and enforces laws that belong to the states or to the people, they monopolize choice and limit freedom. Mobility is no longer an option for the individual and competition is stifled by force.
I am opposed to any federal ban on Marijuana or anything else for that matter, as they do not have the Constitutional proviso to enforce such a ban. The Supreme Court Decision of Gonzales V. Raich is one of many activist decisions by virtue of perverting the commerce clause at the expense of states/peoples rights.
As for same-sex marriage and abortion (Roe V. Wade is unconstitutional, the tyranny of judicial activism) the Constitution provides a guideline for both. In order to more fully understand that issue from a Conservatarian standpoint you can click here for clarification. You can supplant virtually any other moral issue with same sex marriage so long as it isn't a natural right or enumerated as a federal power by the Constitution.
In the words of Thomas Sowell, "The Constitution of The United States cannot protect us unless we protect the Constituion". Conservatives need to better understand the forces and mechanisms involved in the free market and how that protects individual liberty and limits the authoritative power of the state. Libertarians need to better understand the Constitution and how its protection of natural law is vital to the free market and individual sovereignty. Both Libertarians and Conservatives need to better understand that if we don't stop the statists (in either party) from eroding and obfuscating our Constitutional rule of law, the bastardized economic and political freedom we barely enjoy now in the breach, will seem like a foregone utopian dream.