By John Andrews email@example.com On Sept. 10, the Wilberforce Center in Colorado Springs hosted its second annual conference on statesmanship, conservatism, and Western civilization, and I was one of the speakers. The center is named for William Wilberforce, 1759-1833, leader of the battle to abolish the British slave trade and elevate his country's moral tone. His use of "launchers," thought-stirring tactics with an audience, is noted by biographers. Here are four that I used at the conference.
CONSERVATIVES VS. LIBERALS: A DOZEN CONTRASTS
1. Liberals favor feelings, conservatives favor reason. 2. Liberals favor theory, conservatives favor experience. 3. Liberals favor sociology, conservatives favor theology. 4. Liberals tend to utopianism, conservatives tend to realism. 5. Liberals favor the collective, conservatives favor the personal. 6. Liberals favor the state, conservatives favor the family. 7. Liberals favor the government, conservatives favor the market. 8. Liberals favor equality, conservatives favor freedom. 9. Liberals emphasize excuses, conservatives emphasize responsibility. 10. Liberals trust appointed judges, conservatives trust elected legislators. 11. Liberals favor the United Nations, conservatives favor the United States. 12. Liberals emphasize preferences, conservatives emphasize principles.
ONE CONSERVATIVE'S CREDO: A DOZEN BASICS
1. We live in a God-governed universe, not a vast random accident. 2. Truth exists, and is knowable by you and me. 3. Morality is built into the very structure of reality. 4. Freedom is the master value. 5. Rights come from the Creator not the state, and they inhere in individuals not groups. 6. Free markets and private property best allocate resources and multiply wealth. 7. Democracy is possible because we are not beasts, and necessary because we are not angels. 8. The few can never know enough or care enough to rightly rule the many. 9. A word is worth a thousand pictures. 10. Newer is not necessarily better. 11. You cannot criticize the Bible; it criticizes you. 12. People matter most of all.
THREE REPUBLICAN DISTINCTIVES Adapted from my NY Times piece 8/30/04
The choice for voters in any national election election comes down to how you feel about America. Americans of all political persuasions undoubtedly love this country of ours. We who are running as Republicans for the White House and the Congress claim no greater patriotism than our friends on the Democratic side. Yet there is still a very clear choice.
One party is especially protective of America – guarding us against all enemies, vigilant in defending us militarily. That’s the Republican Party.
One party is especially confident in America – trusting the capability and common sense of free individuals and local communities to make their own decisions in a climate of lower taxes and limited government. That’s the Republican Party.
One party is especially proud of America – unapologetic about our history, our values, our faith, our flag; mindful of our mission as “the last, best hope of earth.” That again is the Republican Party.
Those who think our country needs to apologize, that it needs higher taxes or less defense, will not approve the leadership this administration has offered for the past four years and will not support us in this election. But we ask for the support of every American, regardless of party, who wants leadership that is protective of America and confident in America and proud of America.
It’s not a matter of left or right. In the words of a great President, Ronald Reagan, “There is no such thing as left or right. There is only an up or down – up to man's age-old dream, the ultimate in human freedom consistent with law and order – or down to the ant heap totalitarianism.”
America’s path still leads upward. It always has. Let us walk that path together.
CIVILIZATION: MANY OR ONE?
Some define civilization in relativist, value-free terms. They would contend it is present wherever a certain complexity of economic, social, and political life is reached, regardless of whether truth and humanity are well or poorly served thereby. This leads to the conclusion that civilization is plural, as in Samuel Huntington's best-selling Clash of Civilizations.
I argue, rather, that civilization is one and indivisible, extending through time and across the globe, a continuing endeavor and long, hard climb toward mankind's humble betterment. My proposed definition of civilization, not value-free at all but morally normative, is the set of arrangements for human beings to live together so as to advance the dignity of man under the sovereignty of God.
What we are accustomed to calling Western civilization, anciently rooted in Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, spreading out from Christian Europe to all corners of the earth, is indeed a precious heritage.
But the "Western" tag, while historically accurate, should not be taken as limiting in the centuries to come. Its distinguishing marks have universal appeal to the human family, transcending geographic or cultural boundaries.
Some of those distinguishing marks of "mere civilization" (apologies to C. S. Lewis) were spelled out in President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Message, a few months into the current world war. He called them "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity," as follows:
1. The rule of law 2. Limits on the power of the state 3. Private property 4. Respect for women 5. Freedom of speech 6. Equal justice 7. Religious tolerance