Editor’s note: Definition of conservatism is not so simple. American conservatism seeks to conserve but yet it favors change. It does not seek revolution but it is okay with evolution. Conservatism does not oppose changed but understand to change future does not need to undermine the past. This thoughts were presented in a longer final version in my last book, Empire of Liberty.
“The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.” George Bush, State of the Union 2003
These sentiments begin the process of defining the American conservative. We do not believe that the state or the nation is the highest authority but our freedom and liberty are gifts that are naturally endowed; not a gift merely bestowed upon us. President Bush’s point is simple; we are all answerable to a higher authority. To be conceited in our own self is the beginning of hubris.
Christopher Hitchens, the British born leftist pundit, wrote, “When viewed from any objective standpoint to its immediate left, the American conservative movement manifest one distinct symptom of well-being. It is fairly conspicuously schismatic, and it possesses the confidence to rehearse its differences in public.”
Hitchens concedes that today political left is merely the status quo and as Hitchens observed, “American conservatives have won some deserved respect for their willingness to attack the status quo and for their ability to know a historical turning-point when they see one.” From the American Revolution till modern times, American ideals are proven to be essentially conservative. Our founding fathers chose a Revolution to preserve and conserve what they believed was their right as Englishmen of their era. It was not a revolution to change mankind in contrast in most revolutions that followed. The French Revolution that would follow within a decade after our own went into a totally revolutionary way. Instead of preserving order, the French revolutionaries attempted to change the nature of men. As Alexander Hamilton would write in the Federalist Paper, “If men were angels” we would not need government.” For our founding fathers, revolution was not to change man but to seek an ordered liberty to restrain the natural inclination of man. Our founding fathers were not believers in the perfectibility of man and founded a government that understood that. The French revolutionaries believed in the perfectibility of man and that only with the right law and incentives, the new man could be created. Their revolution ended up with Napoleon, who in the end saw himself as the new emperor of Europe. So much for the new French man.