The Six Canons of Conservative Thought
Conservatism, in its contemporary form, traces its roots back to Edmund Burk in the 17th Century, and while it has never been an ideology, has traditionally embraced certain tenants or beliefs in its various manifestations. Russell Kirk, in The Conservative Mind, identifies six of these "canons:"
(1) "Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems."
(2) "Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems..."
(3) "Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes as against the notion of a “classless society.” With reason, conservatives often have been called “the party of order.”"
(4) "Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all."
(5) "Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters, calculators, and economists” who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs."
(6) "Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress."
In addition to identifying these principles of conservatism, Kirk identified several core doctrines of liberalism, which he thought could be found universally in all of the 20th Century's ideologies. The dogma of Radicalism are:
(1) "The perfectibility of man and the illimitable progress of society."
(2) "Contempt for tradition."
(3) "Political leveling."
(4) "Economic leveling."
(5) Rejection of the state as a God-ordained institution.
(6) "Rejection of society joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born --the community of souls."
The Future Political Landscape
While it is clear that Barrack Obama's views fall into what Kirk would call radical ideology, his election to the office of Chief Executive is not the end of the world, as those ignorant of history seem to think. Already, in my relatively short life, American witnessed the election, and re-election of William Jefferson Clinton, whose wife loudly advocated universal health care and other socialist policies. Those who would care to search the political annals of the 1990s will find that America did not slide into a socialist utopia, nor did Hilary Clinton succeed in nationalizing health care. In 1994/95, a conservative resurgence swept into Washington, and conservative Republicans rode in on conservative ideas and took a majority in congress, forcing the liberal Democrat president to reform welfare. I believe this can be done again under the Obama Administration, so long as there are courageous men willing to lead without compromising our ideals.
The Sucesses of Compromise
Compromise is considered by many to be the chief of political virtues, but it is more akin to vice than excellence. Integrity and courage are necessary to govern well. George W. Bush compromised with the liberals on education and gave us the No Child Left Behind Act. More recently, congressional Republicans compromised and allowed passage of the Wall Street bail-out. The people to whom such compromises appeal to are the kind of voters who would vote for an Obama over a McCain in any given election. Only by returning to true conservative principles, which each generation must take hold of and express in the context of their times, will this slide toward socialism and inhumanity be attenuated.