Saturday, October 8, 2016
The Young Conservative
I realize that, in my last post, I spoke of a single future article explaining how my conservative principles on a list of issues are based in my belief in individual rights and respect for the Forgotten Man. Since then, I've come to doubt the usefulness of such long articles, so in the future, I plan to stick to brief posts more narrowly focused on specific conservative ideas.
What follows is my first such post. I originally wrote it in response to a question on another website asking why a young person would buck the trend and choose to be a conservative. Here's my answer:
As a conservative, I base my politics around basic human rights: life, liberty, and property. The purpose of government is to protect these rights, and America owes her greatness in large part to the fact that government has, throughout most of her history, been restrained to this purpose.
Liberals, in general, do not share conservatives' respect for inalienable rights. Rights are brought up frequently in liberal discourse, but easily discarded when they don't fit the narrative. The liberal will respond to one person’s sympathy-inducing problem with a solution that runs roughshod over the rights of others. Applied repeatedly, this leads to rampant "legal plunder" where nobody's rights are secure.
Children and young people, being out of power and easily ignored, generally get the raw end of liberal policies, especially on entitlements and deficit spending. I see conservatism as the natural choice for someone my age - conservatives are more concerned about the future generation, and don't see policies that harm them as being appropriate solutions for the current generation's problems.
All liberal policies hinge on what Yale professor William Graham Sumner called "the Forgotten Man" - he who, while totally absent from the liberal rhetoric surrounding a policy, nevertheless pays the cost of that policy. Liberals win by making the issue look like it’s about everyone but the Forgotten Man.
Consider the debacle of the Affordable Care Act. The law's benefits are clearly visible, in the form of millions of people who credit it for their health insurance. It's easy to accuse anyone who's against the law of hating these people. But look for the Forgotten Man, and you will find him. People who lost their insurance or saw their premiums rise, but more especially those who can't find work because the law makes hiring more difficult. Is the Forgotten Man easy to see? Hardly. Nobody gets a call saying that he would have been hired except for the new regulations on anyone with more than 50 employees. All of which goes to show that this law is a classic example of the concentration of benefits and obfuscation of costs, a classical tactic for progressives.
Similarly, one can identify (with varying degrees of difficulty) the Forgotten Man in liberal policies on deficit spending, entitlements, corporate taxes and regulation, education policy, environmentalism, and, most tragically, abortion. The victims are often poor (consider who hurts the most when the price of energy goes up) but even more often they are young; perhaps they haven't been born yet. All of which plays well into the hands of liberal policy-makers, whose goal is to make the general public forget about them.
I refuse to forget, and that's why I'm a conservative.
Posted by Wesley Stine