Conservative Movement

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The conservative movement is a collection of volunteers, principles and goals for the betterment of society. A defining characteristic is adherence to logic and faith above self-centered behavior. The primary goals include:

  • less government
  • more morality
  • hard work and prosperity
  • genuine charity

Early Roots

While conservatism has been a defining force in American politics since the dawn of the nation, modern conservatism begins with the unfettered liberalism of the New Deal. Recognizing the tremendous harm that massive government could bring, concerned Democrats and Republicans banded together behind North Carolina Senator Josiah Bailey to protest what they saw as a power grab by Roosevelt. This protest, initially titled "An Address to the People of the United States," came to be known as the "Conservative Manifesto."

The Conservative Manifesto had ten points, most of which are familiar to any modern conservative:[1]

  • 1. The reduction or elimination of capital gains taxes.
  • 2. Cut government spending in order to achieve a balanced budget.
  • 3. An end to the violence that resulted from confrontations between businesses and organized labor
  • 4. Opposition to government interference in private enterprise, and recognition of the fact that government should not attempt to do jobs which private enterprise can do better.
  • 5. Acknowledgement of the fact that private enterprise requires a reasonable profit in order to be successful.
  • 6. Secure collateral in order to ensure stable credit.
  • 7. Tax cuts wherever possible and practicable, and a commitment to resist tax increases.
  • 8. States' rights and the understanding that small local government is more efficiently able to meet the needs of its constituents than a massive federal government.
  • 9. An emphasis on the role of local government in providing economic relief.
  • 10. Acknowledgment of the value of the American democratic republic and American free enterprise.

Taking Shape: Kirk and Buckley

While it is difficult to point to a single moment in time as the "birth" of modern conservatism, certain key events have been critical. One of these was the publication of Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind in 1953. Kirk established six critical "canons," which would become cornerstones of American conservatism:

  • 1. Society is not only governed by individual whim and conscience, but also by divine providence and intent.
  • 2. Tradition leads to variety, whereas radicalism leads to stagnation and stifling uniformity of thought.
  • 3. Civilization is predicated on order.
  • 4. Property is inextricably tied to liberty, and vice versa.
  • 5. Moderation and control are crucial to civilization.
  • 6. The natural progression of society is one of slow, gradual change, informed by tradition and custom. Rapid change--particularly rapid change for the sake of change--is dangerous and corrosive to society. [2]

These ideas served as a framework, giving form and direction to American conservative philosophy.

In 1955, Kirk helped William F. Buckley to found National Review. If The Conservative Mind gave American conservatism form and direction, National Review gave it voice, quickly becoming a central vehicle for articulating and promoting conservative philosophy. Nor was Buckley content to indulge in the passive political navel-gazing so favored by the intelligentsia of the 1950's; National Review sought to galvanize conservatives, to awaken them to the reality that they were living in "a Liberal world" [2]--a world which, Buckley argued passionately and eloquently, must be reclaimed by conservatives for the good of America and civilization as a whole.

Genesis of a Movement

Senator Robert Taft was one of the founders of the conservative movement. He authored perhaps the most significant legislation of the 20th century, the Taft-Hartley Act to preserve free enterprise against suffocating unionism, and obtained its passage over President Harry Truman's veto.

Nearly two decades later, Barry Goldwater built on free enterprise to obtain an unlikely nomination as the the Republican candidate for president in 1964. A United States Senator from Arizona, Goldwater's insistence upon conservative principles helped redefine the Republican Party, transforming it into the party of conservatism and conservatives in the early 1960s. In Goldwater's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 1964, he famously declared, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”[3]

21st Century Movement

In a new bid to regain lost political power, Conservatives have embraced the internet and social media in particular, to further the cause. In addition, hundreds of thousands, some suggest even millions of Conservatives have or will participate in nationwide TEA parties, a demonstration against a government out-of-step with the "We the people." Some conservatives call the 21st century movement Reagan 2.0, saying his ideas didn't end when he left office 01-20-1989.

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1