Unified Theory of Conservatism: Constitutional Ethics for a Small Government

There’s no conflict between the three legs of Reagan Conservatism, in spite of the confusion surrounding contraception and homosexual “rights” we witnessed during the New Hampshire debates. Social issues such as the right to life and traditional marriage are equally compatible with small government and States’ rights as National security and fiscal responsibility, just as the Declaration of Independence is compatible with the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution. Conservatives agree that the best government governs least, but we don’t forget that there is a proper role for even the Federal government.

After all, the Constitution is based on the existence of inalienable rights endowed by our Creator as outlined in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights explains the States’ desire to ensure Constitutional limits on the Federal Government, using the least force and intervention possible to prevent or punish the infringement of our inalienable rights.

Liberals and Libertarians accuse Conservatives who advocate for social issues and national security of abandoning both the Constitution and the ideal of a small Federal government that is as “inconsequential in our lives as possible.” There are even some in the Tea Party willing to sacrifice these issues in order to form a coalition with the Libertarians to cut spending and lower taxes.

Unfortunately, the Left, Right and middle all manage to stir up, not only the divide between Libertarians and Conservatives, they also exaggerate conflict between socially conservative Catholics and Evangelicals who agree on the definition of marriage and that life begins at conception, but disagree on whether or not true contraception is ethical.

Abortion, medicine and research, which result in the destruction of embryos or fetuses, infringe on the right to life by causing the death of a human being. (See “Why Ethics.”) In contrast, true contraception prevents conception without endangering any human life. Therefore, unlike abortion, it does not infringe the right to life.

Marriage, as a public institution, is not merely a means to insurance and legal benefits. The definition of marriage predates the Constitution and goes far beyond culture, religion or National boundaries. Marriage affects the stability of the family and the well-being of both children and the husband and wife. (There’s strong research supporting the latter.) We define and defend traditional marriage in order to secure liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These same inalienable rights are the justification for establishing National borders, protecting National security, and punishing those who break the law, while opposing high taxes and big Government bureaucracy and regulation that serves to not only redistribute wealth, but creates a dependency on more and bigger Government intervention.

Conservatives like Governor Rick Perry have been just as vocal in opposing the attacks on religious freedom and conscience by the Obama Administration as we have been in opposing increased taxes and regulations and the EPA’s over-reaching. We can stand secure in our understanding that the Conservative, Constitutional and proper use of government is to prevent and punish infringement of inalienable rights.


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