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The Principled Conservative in 21st Century America

Sharing conservative political views does not of course mean reaching the same conclusion on every public
policy issue. It does mean we should start from a set of fundamental principles that would help us reach a
consensus in many areas of public policy and at least guide one’s thinking in other areas. For those claiming to
be independents or traditional liberals, the heart of the matter is that they really do not understand what it means
to be a principled conservative.
This book seeks to remedy this shortcoming and reclaim the moral high ground on the basic principles that
should guide public policy matters in 21st century America for those who consider themselves to be principled
conservatives. Twenty-first century Americans should be proud to say “I am a principled conservative” and for
all to understand precisely what this means, from political campaigns to social conservations. From tee-shirts to
bumper stickers to Facebook pages, perhaps in the near future to be labeled “PC” would become a positive
short-hand for “principled conservative” versus “politically correct.” I understand the present reality that the
brand name of conservatism took a beating of sorts in the first decade of the 21st century. This book does not
attempt to dissect why or if such criticisms were always valid. I do submit, however, that part of the problem is
a lack of clear communication and consistency of principles.
There is no denying that negative branding of conservatism is attributable in part to the predominant
mainstream media liberal bias. Think about how conservatives are usually portrayed in the mainstream media:
we always want to “turn the clock back” (presumably to oppress women and minorities); we favor big business
over the working man; we seek military spending expansion to help defense contractors; we are intolerant of
different cultures and civilizations; we are anti-science; we hate gays and lesbians; we are anti-intellectual; anti-
feminist; etc. All these perceptions are gross distortions of reality and often downright wrong. Anyone who
reads this book with an open mind, while not necessarily agreeing with every principle and conclusion, will
better understand the actual principled conservative vision for 21st century America. It is also hoped that many
will contrast it favorably to the prevailing and predominant liberal mind-set in the media.
The reader may have noticed in this brief introduction that the terms liberal and conservative have already been
thrown around as though everyone knows their precise definition. While this book does not attempt to create a
“new and improved” brand name for conservatism, I do assert that the historically astute reader will notice that
the principled conservative in 21st century America is closer to the traditional 20th century liberal than today’s
self-proclaimed liberal or “progressive.” This is not a new observation. Ronald Reagan summarized it concisely
when he stated “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, it left me.” Today’s principled conservativeconsistent
with yesteryear’s traditional liberalis interested in preserving individual liberty and promoting freedom in all
countries. In contrast, today’s self-proclaimed liberal is often pretty darn close to socialist in domestic policy,
and in the foreign policy arena is hopelessly addicted to the United Nations and making peace with tyrants at
any cost to avoid military conflict. Liberals too, of course, have problems with a negative brand name. At
present many have reverted to calling themselves “progressives,” wrapping themselves in positive early 20th
century initiatives like banning child labor (good) while ignoring progressivism’s obsession with social
engineering and big government (bad). I would point out that conservatives are proud enough to be called what
we are. We are not running and hiding as are liberals from their justifiably unpopular philosophy. But there is of
course a strong reason for this; conservative principles are in line with what a vast majority of Americans
believe. In contrast, liberals/progressives constantly have to play a shell game to hide their true views and long-
term intentions, knowing them to be widely unpopular. We hear them rail a lot about “special interests” that
prevent their social engineering dreams from becoming a reality. Perhaps “utopians” would be a better term for
them? However, this book attempts to lay out the principled conservative vision, not to sell socialism to the
masses. We’ll leave that task to President Obama.
This book does not aim to merely provide a list of conservative principles, but to clarify key principles and
explain how they can be applied to contemporary public policy issues. The underlying conservative principles
girding this discussion are certainly not brand new insights by the author. Rather, they build upon basic
conservative political principles such as the following:
their labor for their family;
ty, political freedom, and the right to retain the fruits of