With the spectacular failure of the American Health Care Act following the House Freedom Caucus’ mass defection, it is tempting to dwell on the obvious fissures within both the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
But now more than ever, it is important to reflect on the ideas that unite us as conservatives; the principles that guide our philosophy and shape our beliefs.
We believe first and foremost in America—not as a place or even a people, but as an idea; a grand experiment in individual liberty premised on the notion that the most basic rights of humanity are granted not by government, but by God himself.
We believe that these divine rights to live freely and to forge for ourselves a path led not by birth status or political connection, but instead by our own innate drive and talent. We believe, then, that our destiny is ours to shape. And we believe that to protect our ability to fulfill our destiny, we are empowered to create government.
We believe that, as our creation, government is inherently limited by its subservience to us, the governed. We believe that we are the ultimate arbiters of the size and scope of government influence and that no matter how large and how broad our forefathers may have allowed government to grow, that government will always be subservient to us. We will never be subservient to government.
As conservatives, we believe that over the past century, we have seen the rise of a new threat to our most basic notions of liberty: A threat hides itself behind the veneer of pure intentions and promises of equality, a threat that first asserted itself as a New Deal, then as a Great Society, and now as what it has always been: Socialist liberalism, a poisonous ideology that is neither new nor great.
With its shameless secular moralizing enforced by militant speech codes and worship of government paired with an utter contempt for the individual, we believe that this is the single greatest threat to this idea of America that exists within America’s borders.
But while we may believe this threat to be greater now than when it was first proposed by Karl Marx and first enacted in this country by Franklin Roosevelt, we as conservatives know that mere opposition to what’s wrong does not in itself make us right.
That’s why we believe in what we know to be right—a morality based not in the latest cause celebre, but in the same morality that our nation’s founders believed in: Morality that is divinely inspired.
We believe in God, and we’re not ashamed to say we believe in God, even when a secularist popular culture tells us we should be. And, unashamedly, we believe in our freedom to love God as well as, just as significantly, in others’ freedom to love and to worship as they see fit.
So long as it does not infringe on another’s divinely granted rights to life or liberty, we believe in the liberty of worship. But we also believe that when worship turns violent, when the false god of extremism tempts the wicked to harm others, then the good have a moral duty to act.
We believe that Islamic terrorism is the single greatest foreign threat that our generation faces, and we believe that, like our grandfathers’ fight against Nazism or our fathers’ fight against communism, the world is looking to us to lead the good in the fight against evil.
And we believe in calling this evil what it is. We believe that the first step in cowering before it is refusing to identify it; refusing to acknowledge that it isn’t merely a terror army like ISIS or a rogue state like Iran, but rather something far more insidious and widespread—the corrupting ideology or political Islamism, which has for centuries infected the religion of Islam and held captive its peaceful practitioners.
We believe, then, in defending our nation and our allies across the globe from this growing threat, whether by military action abroad or more thorough investigation at home. We believe that a pause in immigration to allow for better screening of those from countries held hostage by radical Islamism isn’t just common sense, it is common decency for those good people who could be at risk if evil people are allowed into this country.
And we believe that we are a sovereign country that has a sovereign right to protect its borders through screening, through law enforcement, and through, yes, if need be, a wall. We believe that, as a sovereign nation just like every other sovereign nation on earth, America has the right to determine who it wants in this country and who it simply can’t afford.
We believe that this, too, is compassionate and just: That those immigrants who apply for and wait for and work for and live for the dream of America deserve the promise of America far more than those who merely show up and demand it. We believe that immigration is what made America great, but we also believe that no great nation was ever formed by people whose very first act in that nation was to break its laws.
Because we believe in the Rule of Law; that every free individual is bound to every other free individual by a social contract that none of us—not even the most powerful—are above. We believe that justice is blind, that liberal notions of “social justice” are nothing more than a perverse way to ensure that our system of justice peeks out from behind its blindfold and ensures that those before it are treated differently because of their race, their ethnicity, their social standing, or their gender.
And, oh yeah, we believe that there are only two genders, for goodness sakes. And we believe that life begins at conception. You know why? Because we believe in science!
Even when liberals call us “flat earthers” for refusing to believe in hyper-politicized and demonstrably falsified claims of climate change, we remind them that the belief that the earth was flat was once settled science, too.
We believe in real science, the science of discovery, not the science of consensus. We believe that something isn’t a scientific fact if 97% of scientists claim it’s a fact: It’s a fact when it’s scientifically proven. That’s science—popular consensus is nothing more than politics.
And we believe, perhaps naively, in politics—specifically, we believe in the political process. We believe that the greatest voice that we have as Americans is our political voice; our vote. And we believe that no one has the right to steal that through voter fraud. We believe in commonsense protections for our right to vote, like having to show a photo ID at the polls so that no one takes our right from us by voting illegally.
We believe that votes matter. We believe that votes have consequences. And we believe that the Russians didn’t hack that damned election. We believe, no, we know that we won it fair and square.
And now, we as conservatives hold power that we haven’t in more than a decade, we know that we also face challenges that we haven’t in more than a decade. We look back on one of the more divisive primary campaigns in our history—in which our party, our movement, our country, really, was split in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time—and we are tempted to fall back on those same divisions, to resurrect those same hostilities.
But we won’t. We can’t. Because there is so much that unites us, so much that all of us believe.
We believe that Obamacare must be repealed and replaced, even if we don’t all agree on the best way to do it. And we believe that even though our differences stopped us from uniting this time, there will be other opportunities.
And there are opportunities aplenty to implement the ideas in which we all believe. We believe in lower taxes and more efficient government for all. We’ve already had an executive order dramatically cutting government spending and deregulating our nation’s economy. And guess what? It’s already decreased the national debt by $12 billion in about two months.
Of course, that’s a tiny fraction of the $20 trillion debt we inherited, but it’s a start, and a good one. And speaking of good starts, last month—the first full month of Republican control—our nation created nearly 300,000 jobs alone, based almost solely on the enthusiasm that finally good stewards of the nation’s economy are back in charge.
And we will be. We must be. And that starts with reforming our nation’s tax policy. We believe that this can be done, though we are under no delusion that it will be easy. But again, we believe that we are all aligned in our fundamental belief that all Americans should be as economically free from the burden of government as possible. We believe that we can unite under this belief and, really, under all of our beliefs.
You see, these fundamental beliefs are what unite us as Republicans, as conservatives, as Americans, really. We believe in our God. We believe in our rights that He has granted us. We believe in us as individuals and as a country. We believe in our sovereignty and we believe in our freedom. We believe that our destiny is ours alone to write.
We are as Republicans, as conservatives, just beginning to write that destiny, and one bad chapter, one embarrassing defeat, won’t end this story. We write on, we move on, we press on, because we believe that we are on the verge of something special, something great. And we believe that we can achieve it if we all stick together, if we all fight together, and if we all remember—always—what we all believe.