Riddled throughout both US and international politics are the terms of conservatism and liberalism. Generally speaking, these terms are thrown about with little understanding of their origination or of their meaning, but, when elicited, feelings of emotion, sentiment, and passion are often triggered as epithets of self-identification. David Hume is often described as “the father of Conservatism,” but what is conservatism? Conversely, some have called David Hume a liberal (or, a classical liberal), but what is liberalism? In finding whether David Hume was a conservative or liberal political philosopher, we can define the foundational basis for both liberalism and conservatism.
Earlier today it was released (1) that Utah’s Senator Mike Lee has endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP’s candidate for President of the United States. Senator Lee beat out incumbent Bob Bennett (who, ironically, was endorsed by Mitt Romney) in a run-off primary in 2010. Senator Lee’s victory was correlated to the Tea Party’s uprising two years ago, as millions of Americans across the country were proverbially “up-in-arms” about the federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility and seeming disdain for individual and civil rights.
Since becoming a Senator, Mike Lee has made quite the name for himself. He is considered a Tea Party darling, and, with Senator Rand Paul, another newly elected Tea Party darling, they have generally voted together on major issues.
The longer I am involved in the political scene, the more I see the need for a consistent understanding of the basic philosophical difference between Democracies and Republics. The necessary distinction is often confused by so-called ‘constitutional authorities’ who loosely throw around terms like Democracy or democratic Republic without realizing the harm they are causing newcomers to the philosophy of liberty. This post is intended to dispel many false notions concerning the foundation of our country, and to reestablish a consistent and fundamental understanding between the two forms of government. There is much to write concerning this issue, and this post is not intended to be all-inclusive; however, as time permits I will edit and add to the post to constantly make it more comprehensive.
The failing economy has turned many Americans into ‘garage-politicians’: people who become political and economic experts by religiously watching Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Many of these garage-politicians are blaming their legislators for their apathy, laziness, or indifference towards their constituency’s economic and financial needs. This heated view of their elected officials has led many Americans to support a policy change that would flush out the legislature and allow the American people a new start with a fresh set of legislators. This new policy is term limits. This change in policy is ridiculous, because our Republic has built-in term limits: voting.
Of the many atrocities committed and the genocides performed throughout the 20th Century, few cases rival the stories that have come from of the Cambodian “killing fields”. Between 1970 and 1979, an estimated 1.2 – 2.2 million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge (Genocide). The barbaric nature of slaughter, the torture committed on innocent civilians, and the beliefs that fueled this genocide is a surprising combination of the accidents of history, ideological extremism, blundered US foreign policy, and clandestine US militarism. In reviewing the history of Cambodia, the horror of this mass-genocide appears to establish a universal and moral mandate on mankind to ensure that something like this will never take place again. An important question to ask is concerning how the United States may have failed to keep the killing fields from happening.
**********************************I have said, very many times… that no man believed more than I in the principles of self-government; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just government,; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just government, from beginning to end… I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other’s rights — that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interfere with the rights of no other State, and that the general government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than the general class of things that does concern the whole (Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 1858; Collected Works 2:493).
My fellow Americans: I stand before you tonight humbly grateful to God for the blessings we all enjoy as citizens of these great United States of America. I am grateful for our founding fathers who were raised up with the courage to give their lives, with the unselfishness to give their fortunes, and the vision to pledge their sacred honor, in order to establish a new kind of government of their own choosing where men might be free. I am additionally grateful that these founding fathers had the faith and humility to accept the divine inspiration so necessary in setting for a Constitution as the foundation for their new Republic.
The example of Christ’s “rendering unto Caesar” is a topic that I have studied but never written about. As it inevitably comes with any discussion concerning the philosophy of liberty and scripture, I have recently seen the benefit of writing on the subject. Whereas this passage of scripture is typically spoken of in discussions concerning government’s legitimate/illegitimate ability to lay taxes upon its people, I believe that there is a more profound and typically ignored message that often answers the taxation argument implicitly. The taxation argument is as old as government itself, and, quite frankly, I am bored with it – so, hopefully I can present a coherent message concerning this scripture without getting bogged down in the never-ending discussion of taxation.
“Choose ye this Day…”
Throughout the scriptures, the Lord has always asked his people – even his children – to choose a side. In all instances, God always allows man’s moral and free agency to choose his own will – whether to captivity and death or to liberty and life (2 Ne 2:27).
The YouTube video(s) (part 1, and part 2) of Hugh Nibley’s discourse on preventive war and the Book of Mormon has been posted in various places. However, it is difficult to find a definitive source that offers a text of Nibley’s statement. I found a text, and I am re-posting it here for those interested in reading it.
Is Preemptive War A Christian Principle?
By Hugh Nibley
There is no possibility of confrontation here between Good and Bad. This is best shown in Alma’s duel with Amlici. The Amlicites are described as coming on in all the hideous and hellish trappings of one of our more colorful rock groups, glorying in the fiendish horror of their appearance (see Alma 3: 4-6). Alma on the other hand is the “man of God” (Alma 2: 30) who meets the monster Amlici “with the sword, face to face” (Alma 2: 29), and of course wins.
In what is often called “Alma’s soliloquy,” an ancient prophet of God once spoke of his desire to express his testimony:
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. (Alma 29:1-2).
What good is a testimony?
As with all gospel principles, a testimony is an entirely individualistic witness gained from personally obtained evidence, yet it is necessarily communal in its bearing and witness. In other words, as we learn in the parable of the ten virgins (Matt 25:1-13), we must obtain our own spiritual and testimonial oil to light our symbolic fires, yet our testimony — to be a real testimony — is gained in its witness to others. It is interesting this dualistic nature of the gospel, that while we are to wear out our lives in good causes individually, we necessarily need our brothers and sisters to accomplish our individual growth.