After weeks of hammering the administration and the rest of the federal government, I decided I’d take a break and explain why I consider myself a conservative.  These are not my rules of conservatism, simply my personal perspective.

I started life at a great disadvantage.  Born to two liberal northeast parents, I grew up in the shadow of the Kennedys amidst the Great Society.  All my relatives were located in Massachusetts, so not only my parents, but my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and so on, were dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.  My sister, bless her bleeding heart, is still a confused social liberal.

So, where did it all go wrong?  For me, it’s fairly simple.  On my first opportunity to vote for President, and being a completely non-political person at the time, I followed in my family’s footsteps and voted for Jimmy Carter.  That was my last vote for a Democrat.  Waiting in gas lines, watching American hostage for 444 days and feeling the Carter “malaise”, I began to educate myself on the political system, the beliefs of those evil Republicans as opposed to the caring, forward thinking Democrats.

I remember a teacher of mine, in Civics, or History, or some such high school course, describing Republicans as loathsome people against any type of progress, who want the world to remain as it was in the 1940’s.  It must be true.  My parents were bright people and Kennedy was a great man, right?  Anyone opposed to Kennedy must be some kind of detestable Neanderthal afraid to face the future.  You couldn’t help but look down on them, or at least feel pity.

I hid away in dark places, where no one could see me reading the words of the dastardly Barry Goldwater, my first exposure to conservatism.  I read my best friend’s father’s National Review magazine and the scurrilous thinking of William F. Buckley.  Surprisingly these weren’t bad men, bent on arresting the development of our country.  They weren’t against progress, only progress for the sake of progress.  Both Goldwater and Buckley favored progress, as long as it did not sacrifice the foundations of our republic.

By the time the Carter years were coming to a close, thankfully, and gasoline prices had made running my 1958 Ford Fairlane beyond my meager financial resources, a new image (at least new to me) arrived on the scene.  Ronald Wilson Reagan spoke of a greater America.  He spoke of an America that was proud of all we stood for; an America that would never back down in the face of threats or intimidation; a place where the aspirations of all mankind were grounded.  For the first time in my life, I felt a true concept of patriotism and the sacrifice of others.  I missed the draft by less than 2 years, and rather than pity those men that returned from Viet Nam, I began to appreciate them.  Apart from the condemnation of those in the Democrat party, Reagan did not harken back to just the simpler days, but also towards the greater days ahead.

I proudly cast my vote for Reagan in 1980, and I continued during the Reagan years to expand and explore the meaning of conservatism.  Am I a pure-blooded conservative?  Probably not.  I don’t know if there is even such a thing.  Would another conservative and I agree on everything?  Not likely.  However, I would find myself in lockstep on virtually every matter of significance.

So, here’s my personal views which I believe define me as a conservative.  It’s not intended to knock anyone else’s views, nor set a standard for conservatism; it is simply my personal vision.

1. I believe the Constitution is sacrosanct.  While liberals seem to think the Constitution is a living, breathing document to be massaged and fit into current social or technological morays, I do not.  The founders of this country intended the Constitution to be framework for our nation, not a roadmap with detours.

2. The Bill of Rights is the document which preserves the rights of individuals against a government that might wish to limit or control personal freedoms and assigns to states any powers not specifically granted to the federal government.  It was intended to clarify via amendment, not usurp, the Constitution. It was never intended to be a place to magically create new rights.  Without the Bill of Rights, the Constitution would never have been ratified.

3. Rights of one end where the rights of another begin.  This simply means my rights shall never infringe upon yours or anyone else’s.  I believe, as our founders did, that these rights are inalienable and can only be bestowed by one’s creator.  I believe those rights become yours when you are instilled with life and I believe that once a female egg divides from a single cell life has begun.  Though a woman has domain over her body, I believe that domain ends where another life begins.

4. I believe the government is limited to the powers granted by the people, no more, no less.  The power of those in elected or appointed office shall never exceed those of the least in society.

5. Government should be as unobtrusive as possible.  It should be only as large as necessary to carry out the will of the people.

6. The federal government has no right to collect taxes from individuals.  Upon the agreement of the people, the government may tax real property, interstate commerce and may levy duties and importation fees.  The founders specifically stated that the government should never directly tax the people, but Lincoln violated the wishes of our country’s forefathers and once that genie was out of the bottle our elected representatives became drunk on our money.

7. The government has an obligation to insure the safety of the American people from threats, both foreign and domestic.  Amongst these responsibilities is the enforcement of laws that dictate that no one shall cross our borders without the legal authority to do so.

8. Those elected to office are no more than temporary assignees of the people.  They are in no way superior to the common people.  They have no right to choose what is best for you or me.  Our freedoms include the right to make choices which may not be the healthiest, most financially sound nor intellectually advised.  Government is assigned the responsibility to protect me from others; not myself.

9. The government should spend no more than the people authorize it to spend.  This authorization is in the form of taxes the people have granted the government the privilege to collect.  Beyond such authorization the government should be required to have additional authorizations from the people, not other government authorities.

10. There is no such thing as the separation of Church and State.  This is a created interpretation never specified in our founding documents.  The First Amendment precluded the government from establishing or prohibiting the exercise of religion, however it did not say the government was to be blind to faith.  Faith, regardless of your perspective, can be found throughout our founding documents, upon our federal buildings and even on our currency.  Nowhere is a particular faith or sect promoted by our government, only the concept of a God.  Faith is part and parcel of the establishment of America and there is no law prohibiting government’s recognition of that fact.

11. I do not believe your sexual orientation grants you rights regardless of whether it’s gay or straight.  No one has the “right” to serve in the military.  No such right exists, however it is an honor to do so.  It is the obligation of the military, as part of the government’s obligation to protect us, to only accept into its ranks those that will serve to strengthen our national defense.  If being gay, being too short or too fat is a hindrance to the military providing the strongest armed forces possible, no one’s “rights” are being infringed upon.  The same goes for marriage.  I do not feel that the government has any business recognizing any form of marriage other than that which was recognized when this country was formed.  Gay marriage is no more a right than me marrying two women.

12. I believe our rights to property are superior to any claim the government may make, except where my rights might infringe upon the rights of others, that right being a demonstrable public necessity not political benefit.

13. Apart from the three branches of government, there are two other key components to our society: the individual and the business entity.  Businesses are revenue generating entities while the government is a revenue consuming entity.  Businesses should be preserved as property held by one or more individuals and the government should never hold a stake in a privately or publicly owned company.  Government has no authorization to dictate, control or otherwise influence the behavior and operation of a business.

These are my core beliefs.  Would Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley say I met the most pure definition of a conservative?  Who knows.  But it’s a place I find myself comfortable and where I find plenty of company, outside the beltway.