If You Have the Principle Down Pat, Then, by Definition, the Policies Follow
This is just yet another reason why I am such a HUGE, UNAPOLOGETIC fan of Rush Limbaugh: The Definitions of Conservatism
But regardless, one of the criticisms that I have faced from these people is that I gave a totally rotten definition of conservatism, that I’m such an idiot I don’t even know what conservatism is. This is people supposedly on my team saying this. And, of course, my definition of conservatism, as I just explained, was to counter the public description, the left’s description of us as conservatives, because that’s what they think, people who aren’t conservatives, that’s what they think conservatism is. So my explanation was to counter that. The second thing that I’m being dragged on the coals for is I supposedly advised Republicans to forget about policy and focus on principle and philosophy. These people are having a cow over the fact, “How can you come back without policy, you’ve gotta have policy! You’ve gotta have some strategic policies to announce to people, things that you’re for.” See, this is what’s happened to the conservative movement that the so-called best and brightest who you’ve never heard of, and you won’t on this program, the best and brightest in our movement don’t understand the role of principle, and they don’t understand the role of philosophy.
If you have the principle down pat, and if you have the philosophy down pat, then by definition, the policies follow. But these people, by the way, want to change conservatism. They’re trying to redefine it and make it Democrat lite, because they think the situations today are different than they were in the eighties, and of course we have to adapt with new policies. That’s why they say the era of Reagan is over. But the era of Reagan was not policy. The era of Reagan was philosophy; the era of Reagan was principle. What was it that gave us, for example, the tax cut policy to raise revenue and wipe out a recession? Conservative philosophy and principle. The policy, the law, the idea, the way to get it implemented, descended from that. What was the policy that led to our victory in the Cold War and bringing down the Soviet Union? Well, it wasn’t. It was a philosophy, it was principle, and it was based on the principle of freedom and that eventually regimes which oppress their own people will collapse of their own immorality if you just nudge them in the right way.
You don’t have to fire a shot. The policy people in that era were the ones that wanted us to meet with all the Soviet leaders. The policy people were the ones that wanted to get Reagan to tone down the lingo. The policy people are the ones that wanted to get into the minutia of writing all this gobbledygook that would then form legislation or party platforms which would lay out our position on how to defeat the Soviets. Well, before you do that you’ve gotta have a philosophy and a set of principles that guide you. Our principles and our philosophy stood side by side. The policies create themselves, and the policies, as I say, descend from several principles, freedom, the founding, the preamble to the Declaration, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. It’s amazing the policies you can write if those are your principles, it’s like amazing the ideas you can come up with.
Welfare reform. Where did that policy come from? Oh, yeah, there might have been people working deep down with the sleeves rolled up on the intricacies of the operation and how to implement it, tell the states what to do. But the concept was we’re destroying lives with welfare. We’re going to get people back to work, we’re going to get them off welfare because we love them and because they want them to be something. We want them to get something out of this life they have been born with more than sitting around and subsisting on something that’s very little from the government with no future. Now, that’s the philosophy, that’s the principle, that too much government destroys lives, damages the future of a lot of lives, we want to stop this because we love people. Before we get to this point, did any of you who object to welfare on the humanitarian grounds that it is destructive of families and people, did you need somebody to explain a policy to you before you understood that welfare was bad? Or was it just instinctive, you just know, you’ve had kids or whatever, the more you give people without requiring them to earn it, the more you are seeing to it they’ll never be able to earn anything and you’re going to have to take care of them the rest of their lives. And we believe that ultimately is destructive to people and it insults them. They’re capable of far more, but we look at them and say, “No, you’re not, we have to take care of you because you’re incompetent.”
Well, that’s not who we are by virtue of philosophy. That’s not who we are on the basis of principle, and I don’t care whether it’s 1980 or 2009. That hasn’t changed and look at what’s happening. Obama is reversing welfare reform. The stimulus bill, or one of these pieces of legislation, does away with it. The states are going to now get more money from the federal government based on how many new welfare cases they create, how many more people are added to welfare rolls. You have to be ever vigilant against this stuff because the left is always going to try to undo anything done that emancipates people and gives them freedom. So these people on my side are taking me over the coals because they think I eschewed the notion — even Rich Lowry at National Review didn’t understand it. He’s the editor of National Review, which descends from William F. Buckley. I never said I was against policy. Of course you need it, but policy guided by what? If you’re going to have policy that says we need to be more like Democrats, we need to identify this particular group of voters and come up with a plan and a party policy that goes and gets them, fine, but you’re changing conservatism when you do that. You’re not using a conservative philosophy or principle to go do that, you’re starting to look at people the way Democrats do. And you’re looking at them on the basis, “Well, have to win elections.” Yeah. But we got a blueprint for that that our own party is ignoring.
So I would urge all of you, don’t be talked out of what your instincts tell you. We’re all conservatives here, and those of you listening who are new to the program who might be tempted to cross over, we’d love to have you. But if you’re a liberal or moderate, independent, however you describe yourself, I’m addressing the conservatives for the moment. Don’t let yourself be talked out of your instincts. Don’t let yourself be talked out of what’s in your heart and what you know by virtue of life experience. By the way, Rich Lowry is not one of the critics. Lowry is not one of the people I’m talking about. He praised the speech, he just said it was the one area he disagreed with. But what I fear is that even on our side, what is conservatism is now up for debate, people are trying to come up with their own definition and idea of it and using what they think is their superior intelligence, smarts to overpower the whole concept just so they can be hailed and touted as smart and revolutionary, evolutionary, moderate, modified conservatism to fit the times, which seems to be one of the things that they are doing.
I don’t think the Constitution needs to be modified to fit the times. The liberals think that. I don’t think the Declaration needs to be toyed with. Chris Matthews asked the other day on his show, “Do you want to live in a world where Limbaugh is writing the Constitution?” I don’t have a desire to change it, Chris. Works fine for me. I’m trying to defend it and protect it against people who are trying to change it. So I’m not opposed to policy, but principle and philosophy, those are the two things that we need to get us back on track and understand what our objectives are. It would seem to me, given what’s happened with the Obama administration, the things that they’re wanting to enact, that our philosophy and principles ought to just be staring us right in the face. They should be larger than ever. They are the antidote. Conservatism, as it’s always been known, is the antidote to what is happening here. And one day, don’t know when, the antidote will be the vaccine, whatever you want to call it, the nation will take it, the nation will get the vaccine and we’re going to fix all this just as we did in the eighties. I don’t know how much destruction is going to have to occur before that happens, but it will eventually happen.
In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you not to cower and not cave when people make these attempts on you to modify, moderate what you’ve always known to be the principled base and foundation of conservatism, ’cause that’s the first battle we face before we even get to Obama. We’re just trying to stop Obama, slow him down a little bit now, but there needs to be a unified opposition to it. I am willing to take that role since Rahm Emanuel and Obama have anointed me the leader.
RUSH: By the way, as to policy, ladies and gentlemen, I have proposed a policy, a bipartisan stimulus plan. My policy was proposed in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. It was a brilliant policy, hailed by many as a genuine bipartisan compromise, rejected entirely by the Obama administration.
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