A co-worker recently told me the story of a man who lost his job due to drug abuse and ended up living under a bridge. “That’s when you really wish the government would step in and help him out,” she said. I could not disagree with her statement more, but it did make me start considering the proper role of government. It seems that most Americans are extremely confused about what the government’s function is actually supposed to be, and this confusion has led to the political mess we face today. There are several prevailing viewpoints surrounding the topic of the proper role of government, but Conservatism is worthy of the most examination.
Political Conservatism, defined here as the philosophy that government should shrink in size and be less involved in the lives of citizens, has proven to be mostly ineffective . While it is well-intended as a counter to the Liberal position, Conservatism is purely reactionary and lacks a base. No political philosophy can succeed if it exists only as a negative. This explains why Liberalism is finding so much success in our country. Liberalism as a political philosophy is a positive. It is always pushing for change, modernity, and new ideals. Conservatism is simply, truthfully, the philosophy of no. It fights against modern changes and holds fast to tradition, but how can it even be considered a political philosophy if it exists only as the negative form of Liberalism? Liberalism can exist without Conservatism, but Conservatism cannot exist without Liberalism.
Another reason why political Conservatism is ineffective is that the tradition being clung to changes as Liberalism makes inroads in society. Writer Selwyn Duke terms this “Conservatism’s fatal flaw.” Yesterday’s conservatives would not recognize Today’s. Since Conservatism by definition does not involve positive actions, it can only lose ground. Liberalism is like a python strangling society. It has unlimited energy, and it tightens its coils each time Conservatism relaxes. There is no push-back. Conservatism can only lose ground and then cling to whatever is left. A perfect example of this idea can be seen in the gay-“marriage” fight. Sodomy was illegal in every State just a few decades ago, and now we have the mayors of our cities leading pride parades through the crowded cheering masses.
The ineffectiveness of Conservatism fighting Liberalism can also be seen in another area. Notice that each and every time a ruling is passed by any court in favor of Conservative ideals, conservatives always hail it as a “victory.” Sticking with the python analogy, is it really a victory if the inevitable strangulation is delayed for a short time? There doesn’t seem to be much room for celebrating while society is being strangled to death. Liberalism will never run out of steam, so any little “victory” is nothing more than a momentary delay. I am not advocating pessimism here as it is certainly important to celebrate success, but the simple fact that Conservatives now celebrate “victories” such as the scaling back of the Contraceptive Mandate in Obamacare tells us that something is seriously wrong. There shouldn’t be such atrocious and ridiculous mandates in the first place.
The only ideal political philosophy is derived from the Principle of Subsidiary. This principle essentially states that all matters should be handled at the most immediate level possible. Only if something cannot be handled at an immediate level should it be passed up the chain of command. Another way of phrasing this is that State governments exist only to deal with those matters that local governments cannot, and the federal government exists only to deal with those matters that State governments cannot. How refreshing is this ideal when juxtaposed with the way our government currently functions!? Instead of an omnipotent federal government dictating orders from the top down, we should be working our way up the chain of command.
When applying this principle, it becomes clear how important families are to society. We all know the expression that families are the building blocks of society, and the Principle of Subsidiary perfectly explains why that is so true. If things are to be handled at the most local and immediate level possible, what could be more local and less-centralized than the family? If strong families are in place throughout society and the Principle of Subsidiary is practiced, there would be much less need for government. Only when these two things happen, the Principle of Subsidiary is applied and strong families are in place, will conservatives see the shrinking of government that they so desire.