Today I was asked by a co-worker the broad yet poignant question, “What does it mean to be a conservative?” The simplicity of this question took me for a loss.
How does one define such a ubiquitous and fluid term? To me, conservatism means protecting the core values of the constitution including limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. These are the principals that define American exceptionalism and they are the same principals that true conservatives are attempting to conserve.
A pinnacle conservative value is to love your neighbor whether or not you agree with their lifestyle. What has pushed many younger people away from the Republican Party is the blatant anti-marijuana platforms. How can you say you want people to have the freedom to choose their lifestyle without allowing them to use recreational drugs? As a nation we can’t be both free and drug-free; we must make a choice of which we value more. This anti-marijuana belief may be a republican value but it surely isn’t a conservative value.
One of the very few jobs of the American government is to promote justice through strict law and order. The government was given this obligation in order to protect our rights against our neighbors and foreign threats. That means that unless someone’s life, liberty, or property is threatened, the government has no business in telling you what to do.
Today we see a plethora of American citizens waking up in prison because of victimless crimes. Smoking weed doesn’t infringe on anyone’s life, liberty or property, so why is the government locking these people up? Is it because they live an unapproved lifestyle? Or is it because of corrupt and financial purposes? Regardless of the reasoning, the war on drugs is a war from authority not justice. Throwing people in jail for smoking a psychoactive plant isn’t justice, it’s criminal.
“Prison is for rapists, thieves, and murderers. If you lock someone up for smoking a plant that makes them happy, then you’re the fucking criminal!” – Joe Rogan
A new idea has begun to emerge that the government’s job is to protect its citizens from themselves.
This is fundamentally anti-American and anti–conservative. If I want to eat 30 cheeseburgers a day I should have the freedom to do so regardless of the threat to myself. The same applies for marijuana. I am the only person capable of balancing the costs and benefits of every action as it pertains to myself, not the federal government. With freedom comes responsibility and so long as I’m willing to accept the potential consequences of smoking weed, I should have the freedom to do so without government repercussions.
With the rise of government overreach, we will continue to see a loss of liberty. Constitutional conservatism is this countries last hope if it wishes to protect the principles that made this nation great. A nation where the government helped more than they hurt and politicians gave more than they took. When it’s the Millennial’s turn to take power we will stop fighting about the petty arguments of differing lifestyles, but instead, mold a government which creates value without impeding on liberty.
My generation, republican or democrat, cares a lot less about your smoking habits than they do what’s in your heart and mind. I envision a future where we can love and respect our neighbor without treading on their lifestyle. One day this vision will become a reality but only if we stick to the values of limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.
For a nation facing ruin… Our hope lies in the constitution.