Building On Tradition
Not only does the African American history include a legacy of struggle against social injustices, but also deeply rooted in her quest for equality has been the conservative principles upon which this nation was founded. Distinctive to this heritage, is the black Church, which serves as the core of the Black community, and is the center for social, political, cultural and economic activity. Freedom’s Journal magazine’s underlying purpose includes the assertion of traditional standards of moral integrity and character particular to the tenets of our past, to better shape both ours, and our nation’s future.
Black conservatism: Black conservatism is based on African-American traditions, values, and experiences (both political and cultural), which place God at the center of African-American life. As a political philosophy, it is preoccupied with conserving and mainstreaming African- American culture into the political fabric of American society and beyond. Conservatives hold to a set of core values and principles that are foundational to our political philosophy. They have been dubbed the R·I·S·E principles:
- Citizens deserve a government, which is fiscally responsible. Waste, fraud and duplication in government must be eliminated. All monetary transactions, with the exception of classified operations, should be transparent. Public debt, except for infrastructure, should be avoided. Government budgets should fit within existing revenues. Spending reductions, not tax increases, are the preferred solutions to revenue shortfalls.
- Taxation should be restricted to the most minimal levels, and the burden of taxation should be spread as equally as possible among US citizens. Taxation should never be employed for the purposes of redistributing wealth; or restricting productivity, economic growth, or savings.
- Government policy should encourage self-sufficiency and promote the work ethic among its citizenry. Public funds should not be used to support persons who are capable, albeit unwilling, to provide for their own needs. Government welfare programs for the needy should strive to enforce the dignity of the individual, strengthen the family unit, and encourage the individual’s potential for self-sufficiency.
- Government policy should be constrained by rule of law embodied in the Constitution, which innovatively guarantees our liberties by spreading power among the three branches of the Federal government, and between the Federal government and the States. Hence each branch of government, including the delineation of power between state and federal, should perform their function as defined by the Constitution.
- One of the main responsibilities of the Federal government is to protect the nation and the American people. This requires a strong and effective military, capable intelligence services, and a vigorous law enforcement and homeland security capacity. It also mandates an effective and proactive foreign policy that looks after American interests in conjunction with our allies; yet, stands resolute against our enemies.
Individual Liberty and Fidelity
- Laws restrict the free exercise of liberty and property. Consequently, no law should be passed unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The proponents of any law should have the burden of proof that passage is necessary.
- The rights of an individual should include, but not be limited to, those rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States. They should also include those God-given rights of freedom, not specified in any written document, which necessarily exist in a nation where the individual is more important than the state.
- Conversely, these rights should not negate the responsibility of the individual’s obligation to conduct himself as a responsible and productive member of society. No civilization can succeed and thrive for any duration unless “free people” act with fidelity to a core set of values and principles. Each one of us must be accountable for our own actions; and endeavor to build a better society, which improves our own life, and the lives of others.
- All citizens are entitled to security for their person, and personal property. Government’s primary task is the maintenance of law and order to ensure these rights are protected. Accordingly, the system of justice must afford each person access to competent representation and a level playing field to ensure the imperatives of justice can be met.
Strong Family Values
- Marriage is intended to be a permanent relationship between one man and one woman; and is a foundation for healthy and stable families. Marriage functions to satisfy the longings of the human heart: to give and receive love, to welcome and ensure the full physical and emotional development of children and instillation of moral principles and values.
- Strong family values must be preserved and impressed upon each generation. The “natural” family is the foundation of society; therefore, the state should promote its formation and interfere in its function as little as possible. Family unity and inter-dependency is necessary to foster and encourage culture, learning, and long-term national stability. Therefore, two-parent households should be encouraged; and fatherhood honored diminishing the development of delinquency in children and young adults.
- Education begins at home and is the first classroom children have. The family thus serves as the center for social, educational, economic, and spiritual life to build strong bonds among the generations, and to pass on a way of life that has transcendent meaning. Since education begins at home it should remain the prerogative of parents to “choose” where to send their children for further instruction.
- Human life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death. Human beings are created in the image of God. Therefore, protection for the unborn and elderly; and compassion for the sick and despondent, are essential elements of a culture of life; and necessary for the health of a civil and God-fearing society.
- The free exercise of religious faith is paramount to the health and well-being of a free society. Government is prohibited in the establishment of any religion, but also prohibited in interfering in the practice thereof. Citizens, therefore, should be free to worship as they choose without fear of governmental interference, coercion or manipulation.
- The Church is the extension of the family and the instrument for the work of God to impact societal values. Duty, honor, self-sacrifice, love of neighbor and country are some of those values, but equally important are the pursuit of justice and equality before the law. It is the Church where the disenfranchised and marginalized find redemption, restoration, forgiveness and reconciliation before God and man.
- Through free markets individuals and groups form relationships and exercise self-government. The state should only intervene to establish minimum health and safety standards, and encourage competition. When the government does choose to use its power to regulate free people, it should be exceedingly cautious to use the least burdensome method possible.
- The free market is the most effective way for people who are less fortunate to advance from poverty to prosperity. Economic empowerment focuses on wealth creation not wealth redistribution; job creation not job seeking; and investments in tomorrow, not mortgaging our future.
- As individuals have the right to choose in free market systems, they are vested with the responsibility to make both informed decisions and choices, which best suit their needs. While Government should actively enforce fraud statutes, it should not attempt to protect the public from what it perceives as poor choices by eliminating those possibilities from the market.
- Health care is a commodity that is best procured through the free market system. Access to health care becomes more available and affordable when health professionals are allowed to compete in the free market system. Individual health savings accounts, health clinics in retail stores, concierge medicine are all products of the free market in the health care industry because one size does not fit all.
- Private property is the cornerstone of a free nation. Therefore, communal needs should override private property rights only in the most convincing circumstances – not merely for the sake of convenience. In those instances when a compelling need does exist, property owners should be justly compensated for their whole loss.
- Government largess is counter-productive to economic empowerment. Government handouts encourage dependency. Assistance given to the marginalized and disenfranchised members of society should always encourage and move individuals toward self-sufficiency. The private sector, such as a faith based organization, is better equipped to offer counseling, housing, clothing, food and education to help people get back on their feet.
Adapted by Eric M. Wallace, from the L·I·F·T principles with permission of Dennis LaComb, executive director of the United Republican Fund of Illinois; and acknowledgement of the principles of Conservatism by Fred Thompson.