To the editor: With the magical and mystical Christmas season upon us, I thought we’d save responding to our friends on the other side of the political aisle for another day.
In this season of joy and goodwill, new beginnings and affirmation, I’d like to take a moment and revisit the philosophic cornerstones of what we believe and what sustains us, on our public front — spiritual matters I believe to be a deeply personal matter.
And that brings us to our first cornerstone: a belief in a large private sphere. Not everything need be, should be, or ought to be politicized. It is an ideal that we are rapidly losing sight of.
Conservatism has been with us since the dawn of time. Aristotle’s political philosophy represents the first philosophical grounding of “the science of politics” in practical experience/realism. It was a reaction to Platonic utopianism.
Modern conservatism was born out of reflections on the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that followed.
Maybe, just maybe, the thinking went, the institutions that have survived the test of time have something to teach us, have something perennial to offer.
The abstract ideals of the French Revolution continue to stand in juxtaposition to the conservative ideal that “abiding truths” govern affairs of man — think of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” (cooperation without coercion), or John Locke’s “God that sees in the dark”.
History is “a storehouse of wisdom,” Edmund Burke tells us.
Tradition is the language of and the guide to that wisdom — a track beyond the intellectual fashions of the moment to the true and tried.
Institutions, traditions, ideas survive because they bestow some benefit. Let’s reflect on that.
Man is fallible and not perfectible. By extension, that is true of political institutions.
Conservatives do not look upon political institutions as saviors. We recognize the limitations of human nature and recognize these same limits in our institutions. We are deeply and profoundly skeptical of utopian schemes and “abstract” ideals.
We believe in community but not collectivism. A community is a collection of individuals bonded by love and charity.
Russell Kirk, the father of American Conservatism, makes the point that “diversity of life is characteristic of high civilization." He goes on to point out that “uniformity of absolute equality is the death of real vigor of freedom,” and freedom “to choose” one’s path is the essence of Jesus’ message.
Thanks to the Kent County News for giving us space for our views.
God bless and Merry Christmas.
Chair, Kent County GOP