Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Charles Cooke's Conservatarian Manifesto in print

"Conservatarians" Welcome Both Cowboys, Community - Peter Berkowitz, Real Clear Politics:

March 8, 2015 - "Limiting government to protect individual freedom is the precious inheritance of the American constitutional tradition. Conserving that legacy is American conservatism’s unifying task.

"It is an appreciation of this task that lies at the core of Charles Cooke’s first-rate contribution, The Conservatarian Manifesto, to the robust debate within conservative circles about the future of conservatism. A writer at National Review and a proud immigrant to the United States from his native Britain, Cooke sets forth with vigor and subtlety a summons to conservatives to unite around the “timeless principles” that inform the American founding. In applying those principles to a host of prominent issues of public policy, he demonstrates refreshing common sense, a confident command of empirical realities, and savvy political judgment.

"What, specifically, does Cooke advise conservatives in America to conserve? His answer embraces the fundamentals of freedom: 'property rights; separation of powers; hard limits on the power of the state; staunch protections of the rights of conscience, assembly, speech, privacy, and self-protection; a preference for local governance over central planning; a free and dynamic market economy that permits rapid change and remarkable innovation; and, above all, a distrust of any government that would step in to answer questions that can be better resolved by civil society'....

"Cooke the fusionist, or 'conservatarian,' embraces the formula of Ronald Reagan, who 'reduced taxes, cut regulations, and relentlessly attacked the popular conceit that the answer to the nation’s problems was invariably more government intervention,' while recognizing that new times require new applications of that formula. For Cooke, as for Reagan, the essence of conservatism is limited government.

"But that does not, Cooke emphasizes, imply indifference to the moral questions. To the contrary, proponents of limited government, he argues, regard the virtues and moral beliefs as of the first importance, and therefore reserve the people’s responsibility for them and seek to assign legislation that touches them most directly to the level of government nearest to the people.

"Whereas progressivism, according to Cooke, 'is built on the core belief that an educated and well-staffed central authority can determine how citizens should live their lives,' Cooke’s conservatarian is a federalist who wishes, in conformity with the Constitution’s design, to decentralize power. Federalism promotes genuine diversity by offering Americans in different regions with varying sensibilities the opportunity to 'thrive on their own terms.'

"The conservative defense of federalism is not, as progressive critics and some misguided conservatives contend, anti-government. Rather, it strives to keep federal and local government focused on their proper tasks. Accordingly, the principled federalist whole-heartedly affirms the federal government’s constitutionally mandated responsibility to protect constitutionally proclaimed rights and uphold federal law everywhere in the United States."

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