Mousa Alshanteer: Return to Goldwater conservatism

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 04:14 PM

Despite his loss in the 1964 Presidential Election, Barry Goldwater’s unwavering commitment to truly conservative ideals set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980 as well as Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” in 1994. Goldwater may have lost the election, but he initiated a revolution similar to that kindled by Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and “tapped a deep reservoir [of conservatism] that already existed” in the American populace.
In order to make any substantial gains in the future, the modern day Republican Party must learn to do the same.
As Goldwater indicated, the difference between contemporary conservatives and liberals is that the former faction respects the totality of the individual while the latter faction solely considers the material aspect of individuality. Conservatives believe that an individual has both economic and spiritual needs, and that the development of an individual’s spiritual nature (regardless of his or her faith or lack thereof) ought to be the primary concern for political advancement, for it is the strengthening of an individual’s faith that ultimately benefits society. Liberals, on the other hand, regard the gratification of economic needs as the principal goal of society.
However, the economic and spiritual needs of an individual are fundamentally inseparable. An individual’s spiritual freedom is illusory if he or she depends on the state to make his or her spiritual decisions; moreover, an individual’s economic freedom is equally illusory if he or she depends on the state for his or her economic needs.
An individual’s most sanctified possession is his or her individual soul, consisting of both moral and immortal aspects. The moral side of an individual establishes his or her absolute distinction from ever other individual. Only conservatism takes into consideration the differences between individuals and, accordingly, makes provisions for the development of these differences. Liberals appeal to the notion of the “common man” – the belief that every individual ought to be part of a commonality – rather than emphasizing, appreciating and developing the uniqueness and the distinctiveness of each individual. This belief blatantly disregards the history of our very nation, especially since we developed differently from all others due to the motivation and initiative of the “uncommon man.”
All individuals, for their own benefit and for that of society, are responsible for their own progress, their own development, and their own “change.” The choices that govern an individual’s life are choices that he or she must make – they should not be made by other individuals or by a collective body of individuals. Conservatives were the first to understand that the exercise of freedom requires the establishment of order, for it is impossible for individuals to be free if others have the ability to deny them the exercise of their freedom.
The framers of the constitution imposed limitations on the system in order to prevent such an occasion, for they were well aware of the risk posed by egoistic leaders and the vulnerability of the majority to grant the government unauthorized power in return for illusive promises of economic gain. Unfortunately, these limitations have been surpassed by our contemporary leaders.
The federal government has assumed responsibility for every domain in which it believes its services are needed, the executive and judicial branches have overstepped their constitutional boundaries, and the legislators are continuing to make decisions based on what benefits their own interests rather than the country. State administrations are either dismissed from their rightful responsibilities by federal preventive measures or they are permitted to act at the discretion of the federal government.
Unfortunately, the establishment of an overriding authority independent of the citizenry only seems inevitable. A Leviathan, whose predominant influence is constrained only by the will of the elected representatives rather than by that of the people, is bound to come to fruition.
The aforementioned conservative principles defined in the Declaration of the Independence, established by our Constitution, and rekindled by Barry Goldwater have produced an affluent and morally sensible nation unlike any other in history. In order to maintain this affluence and morality, we must not disregard the conservatism upon which our country was founded. We must return to it, just as Goldwater did, to ensure that our country is there for our children and grandchildren in the future.

Mousa Alshanteer is a freshman at Duke University and a 2012 graduate of High Point Central High School. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. Contact him at mousa.alshanteer@duke.edu.