Charlie Leonard: Weighing in on politics, principles
July 28, 2011
Starting today, I have the distinct privilege of writing a twice-monthly column in The Aspen Times on a wide range of current issues, spanning both politics and public policy.
For sure, my compositions will have a conservative bent, and they will advocate for a stricter adherence to our nation’s founding principles, including a more limited government, sound fiscal policies and a less adventuresome foreign policy.
My columns will also look at a number of issues from the perspective of how the twin notions of individual liberty and personal responsibility have been significantly diminished – but still hold the promise of offering solutions to many of our most pressing problems.
What I hope to avoid repeating here are “talking points,” or knee-jerk support for a purely partisan viewpoint.
If I am going to advocate for limited government, the least I owe you, as readers, is a consistent philosophical argument. This means a column with a greater loyalty to history, particularly the Constitution, than any one political party or individual elected official.
Similarly, it may surprise some that they also won’t find support in this space for allowing the state to stick its nose in people’s personal affairs. In fact, as a limited government advocate, I intend to make the best case I can for why the government has no business or, more important – no authority – to impose restrictions on marriage, family planning, euthanasia or other so-called “social issues.”
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In the same vein, I’m convinced there is no greater contradiction in our body politic than espousing limited government while simultaneously supporting state-sanctioned executions in the form of “death penalties.”
Likewise, in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, I will also try my best to make the case why conservation (as opposed to preservation) was originally a conservative idea.
In this regard, I’ll want to discuss matters of the environment, as well as what seems to be our collective obsession with tearing things down just to build them anew (i.e. take a look at Main Street, as well as the grand plans for a new airport).
I subscribe to these views because I believe we need to keep faith with the ideals and principles of our uniquely American history.
I also believe that our founding principles are as valid and vibrant today as they were when a brave group of people had the courage to successfully challenge the actions of an oppressive English government.
Without question, government at every level is active in more areas of our lives than was ever envisioned by the people who founded this country.
Some have argued this was both inevitable and necessary, given the growth and challenges of our modern and diverse society. The danger in rationalizing – and therefore enabling – government intervention in nearly every facet of our daily lives, I will argue, is that sooner or later you are not going to like the party or individual in power.
The same people who cry foul when the government engages in unwarranted types of surveillance are often the first to cheer when the government says it has the right to force everyone to purchase health insurance. I will argue that both these seemingly opposite types of government intervention are actually two sides of the same coin. I don’t believe that either action is authorized under our Constitution, and I will argue that both liberals and conservatives need to better understand that every time they accept or support some government intervention of their liking they are simply empowering future interventions they are bound to abhor.
I’ve also agreed to focus from time to time on some local issues, as well as events and topics outside of politics and public policy. I trust it won’t surprise any readers at this point that I really don’t believe city councils should be deciding what goes on the menu in a restaurant space leased from the city – even if some of our elected officials are completely convinced they know what kinds of hamburgers will make the restaurant a smashing success.
Last, because I’m also a realist, I don’t expect my opinions to change the course of events in the country or the S-curve entrance into Aspen. I also know more than a few readers are not likely to welcome me to their breakfast table or even the bottom of their birdcage. One reader has already written in to suggest conservatives like my good friend Melanie Sturm are “out for themselves.” In many ways, I’m ready to plead guilty as charged. But that’s for another day and another column.
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