Scott Tibbs

What has conservatism actually conserved?

By Scott Tibbs, December 17, 2021

One of the things I hear often from the populist Right is this question: "What has conservatism conserved?" Over the last fifty years, the answer to that is "not much." We have seen abortion continue with precious few limits, we have seen marriage forcibly redefined by the Supreme Court, and we have seen explosive growth of the federal government and federal power while government at all levels continually infringes on our liberty.

The problem with the populist Right is that their solution is far too often more government. We need to use government power to implement our own agenda, and we too often allow the opportunity to pass by when we are in power. I do not believe this is totally without merit. I am not an anarchist, and one of the primary purposes of government is to prevent people from preying on each other. But the populist Right goes beyond classical liberal thinking and wants government intervention in a whole host of matters that should be solved by churches, families and communities.

It is true, though, that conservatives have conserved very little of the principles on which this nation was founded. This is because we are constantly on defense, reacting to what the Left is doing and trying to stop that agenda. But if we are truly committed to our principles, the conservative movement needs to stop being about opposing change. We should be about reformation.

How do we see this in action? On federal power, we need to nominated candidates for the House and Senate who will actively work to shrink the federal government and devolve power to the states. We need to work to eliminate federal agencies instead of creating new ones. We need to cut spending instead of reducing the rate of growth. We need to start repealing laws and regulations, rather than only trying to stop new laws and regulations from getting passed.

Many of the states governed by Republicans have been making progress, and Republicans need to embrace that mentality at the federal level. The Trump Administration accomplished some good things, but primarily was a large missed opportunity to actually implement real reform. This is because Donald Trump was never a conservative. Trump was an anti-Leftist, and fighting the Left is not good enough. Trump was also far too invested in day-to-day culture war battles and petty personal grievances, instead of a truly conservative policy agenda. We actually have to implement conservative policy, not just fight the Left.

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