Saturday, January 7, 2017


Benjamin Franklin Gates: Of all the ideas that became the United States, there's a line here that's at the heart of all the others. "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Riley Poole: Beautiful. I have no idea what you just said.
Benjamin Franklin Gates: It means that if there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.
--National Treasure

The central theme of this interesting essay by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn involves conservatism. Because conservatism tends to take on many meanings, it is good to have a sense of the core idea.

In a social context, to conserve means to protect something culturally important from harm, destruction, or loss. Arnn suggests that conservative people sense that things that have developed a good reputation over time tend to be more trustworthy than new things that are unproven.

Conservatives are particularly drawn to original things because they tend to embody cultural principles that, as they say, have indeed stood the test of time. Change those principles and, by definition, the culture changes to something else.

Arnn then argues that American conservatism has to do with protecting things found at the beginning of America. This is particularly true of things associated with forming the original political bonds that defined America.

The two primary documents in this regard are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The Declaration states the rationale for secession and forming a sovereign nation, and the Constitution establishes the form of government.

Together these two documents are the longest surviving things of their kind. As such, they should constitute a primary focus of American conservatism. This does not mean merely preserving the original documents in the National Treasure sense above. More important is that the content and context of these documents should be deeply understood and accurately passed along to new generations.

If they are not understood and passed along, then the rationale and ideas that defined America will not be conserved. They will be lost, as will be America in its original sense.

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