More on the ten essentials

By Dave Crater ( Editor's Note: Andrews' "Ten Conservative Essentials for the Republican Comeback" are here given a different twist as to priority, interpretation, and in one case (No. 6, Disunity), inversion. Coming from such a credible quarter as the Wilberforce Center for Colorado Conservatism, the disputation is welcome to me. Bring on more! - JA

1. Piety. Must be first on any conservative list. Liberalism is the state as God. Libertarianism is the individual as God. Conservatism is God as God. The United States would not have been founded except for Christian faith, and it will not be preserved except by Christian faith. The continuing decay of true faith among Republican Party elites, who tend to be more concerned with what is thought of them in Denver, Washington, and New York than what is thought of them in Wray, Fruita, Ft. Morgan, and the Colorado River valley, is a major reason for their inability to inspire the grassroots.

2. Principle. Human nature is a constant. Moral truth is a constant. Prudence is the apprehension and experience of the unchanging truth of human nature and the cosmos. It does not adjust to the times. It interprets and judges the times.

3. Courage. Indeed, send us! If we believe zeal guarantees minority status, we will not be ferocious on behalf of the good. We will not ever truly know the good, which by its nature inspires zeal. And backbone. Otherwise known as courage. Courage is steadfastness in the face of moral confusion and personal hostility. Political courage is steadfastness in the face of the moral confusion and personal hostility generated by liberalism and by empty Republican pragmatism. Political courage means calling compromise and bad faith what it is.

4. Humility. Desire not to sit and eat and talk with the great. Desire to sit and eat and talk with the humble. Relinquish dreams of personal greatness. Recover dreams of spiritual, social, economic, and political greatness. Be not so proud that you fear empty souls who happen to be powerful. Be humble enough that you fear God and love your neighbor. And be humble enough to be unwilling to cover Republican misdeeds simply because they are done by Republicans, with whom rest your hopes for future political advancement.

5. Gratitude. I have nothing I was not given. Selfishness is wanting more beyond the abundance I already have. Contentment is knowing life itself is a gift, and that I have been blessed even if none but my family and friends ever know my name.

6. Disunity. Unless we are willing to distance ourselves from falsehood, calculation, self-promotion, and self-service, and those in our political culture who engage in them, and instead be true to those who favor truth, self-sacrifice, courage, and the service of future generations, neither conservatism nor the Republican Party can revive. One need not be popular to govern, and one certainly need not be popular to govern rightly. If Winston Churchill can lose an election, we will not save our electoral jobs through, as he called it, “easy and fickle froth and chatter” generated by our attempt to be popular. “Unity” in modern political parlance is a synonym for popularity and the avoidance of controversy. No more evil has been done in our generation than that perpetrated in the name of unity.

7. Vigilance. Enemies and evil are real indeed, including those in our own ranks.

8. Integrity. Integrity is more than just telling the truth. Integrity is believing in something substantial, and saying and doing what is consistent with what I believe, both in public and in private. A liberal can have this kind of integrity, and often does. Michael Moore has more of this kind of integrity than many Republican leaders, who strangely and strikingly lack the ability to see even a week into the political future.

9. Unity. Once we have recovered the willingness to be disunified, and a sense of our responsibility to confront enemies in our midst and regain our integrity, we can again hope for real unity. Unity is not buying dinner for a Democrat, or securing a “seat at the table” with a vacuous Republican official, or signing a shallow consensus document. Unity is the natural bond between and among those who know what is true and are willing to sacrifice to bear witness to that truth.

10. Optimism. If steps 1 through 9 are followed, there is reason for real optimism. Optimism for optimism’s sake is worse than meaningless; it is dangerous. Optimism grounded in a recovery of spiritual, social, economic, and political truth, and unity therein, is optimism worth campaigning on.