“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” When you look at society today, it would not appear these truths are self-evident at all. Colorado has a civil rights commission that expects you to be treated differently based on your skin color or sexual preference. Government bureaucracies have exploded and seek to regulate every aspect of our lives. People and even some elected officials are openly advocating for communism and for the removal of private property rights. These truths are still every bit as self-evident; they are just being repressed by those who advocate against them. These people show their true self-evident core, and they expose their accidental conservatism through actions that support the tenants of conservatism: rule of law, intellectual & individual property rights, school choice, and free market capitalism. This accidental conservatism is often and easily seen in the actions of our celebrities and movies, but each and every one of us shows it because Liberty is engrained in every human being.
At the height of the Me-Too movement, the phrase “believe all women” became a popular tag line. This line was adamantly used against Brett Kavanaugh to defend the complete lack of evidence against the Supreme Court nominee. Many conservatives pointed out how we should instead have better rule of law and advocated for policies and positions to help women who have been wronged get their justice. Many were also fearful that this dangerous idea would lead to women lying about their situation to the detriment of the institution of justice for women who have been wronged. Enter Jonny Depp and Amber Heard and a trial that momentarily gripped the nation. We heard of the plagued relationship between the two Hollywood stars, and it was interesting to watch as conservatives slowly started siding with Depp. Conservatives rallied for Depp who openly joked about a Trump assassination many years ago. But conservatives saw this as an excellent opportunity to highlight that there should be such a thing as truth, and that truth is not dependent on a person’s gender, age, net worth, or any other variable. Johnny Depp also believed that it was wrong to be accused of something he did not do. When the cards were on the table, he abandoned the progressive ideology of relativism and became a figurehead of the conservative’s belief in what rule of law should be.
When Taylor Swift was a relatively obscure 15-year-old, she signed a record deal that gave the record label ownership of her masters (the ability to control how or when a song is used). This typical deal turned out to be incredibly lucrative for Taylor and for the record company and for many years there was little issue. Then in 2019, Taylor claimed the record label was preventing her from using her own songs at the American Music Awards and from using her old music in a documentary. She offered to buy back her masters, but the record label refused, and she signed with another company that would allow her to own her own masters for any new music recorded. She was very upset that they would not sell her back her own music, songs that she wrote and created herself. Since she wrote her own music, she found a convenient loophole that allowed her to give herself publishing rights to those songs. So, she decided to re-record those songs and regain her right to do with her intellectual property as she pleases. She saw the importance of being able to own her property, her work, and the product of her mind. She saw in a very tangible way, the importance of individual property rights and why those rights are the bedrock of the American Idea.
In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, it was no surprise to see the celebrities and progressive left advocate for gun legislation. One in particular, Kim Kardashian, tweeted “Yesterday 19 children were murdered by an 18-year-old, and I find myself heartbroken, disgusted and furious about how little has been done by lawmakers to enact gun laws that protect our children.” But Kim does not leave the security of her children up to lawmakers; she takes control of the security of her children. She sends her children to a private school that hires its own personal, onsite security personnel. She unknowingly champions a policy that conservatives have been advocating for a long time: school choice. Parents should be able to send their child to where they think is best. Parents should be able to demand that their schools take more active measures to protect their children and if the schools do not comply, the parents should be able to move their children wherever the parents see fit. But even beyond the school choice Kim unwittingly supports, she also hires her own armed, personal security team. Thank you, Kim for advocating with your actions what most responsible gun owners have been advocating for years!
I recently re-watched a movie that I have avoided since it came out, due to its overt political ideologies: WALL-E. Watching it under a principled microscope actually revealed a huge issue conservatives have been talking about for years: cronyism. In the movie, they flash back or show the megacorporation Buy n Large (BnL) as being in charge of everything. While the point they were trying to convey was anti-consumerism, what they actually showed is how powerful a corporation can get when it has a monopoly on the market and is able to control the politicians. It is not ironic at all that an apocalyptic world was brought about by a weak government run by a megacorporation, an antithesis to the free market that conservatives believe in! This is why having a free market is actually better for the planet. Look at the difference in pollution between communist China and America. One has free market factors at play that encourage environmental stewardship of our planet based on the demand from individuals and who they choose to do business with, and the other does not. It is obvious when you walk into a business and see them making their case of environmentalism, whether it is recycled paper bags or even packaging that has seeds in it that we have a society that cares deeply about the planet we are leaving for posterity. WALL-E would be an entirely different movie had there been a free market to turn to even after the damage had been done and the planet needed cleaning.
These are all very public cases of accidental conservatism, but I have found that even more cases abound in everyday life. It is easy when complaining with others in the line at the DMV to talk about the inefficiencies of government bureaucracy. Even the most socialist Uber driver in America would likely dissent if asked to give their car to you. If the group took a vote and voted that the next round of drinks should be free, do you think the bartender would think absolute democracy is the best way to run a business much less the country? I implore you to go and find all the accidental conservatives that you can, relate to their inner self-evident truths and show them why the American Idea is worth choosing and defending.
I appreciate the efforts in the article but the statement “Liberty is engrained in every human being” is one of the most delusional errors conservatives consistently make.
Liberty and a government that protects it, rests upon a proper understanding of individual rights. To say that liberty is somehow intrinsically written upon the hearts of man is to ignore human history, which has been mostly nasty, brutish and short precisely because most people were NOT so “ingrained” – liberty being neither understood nor valued.
Worse, this view totally under-appreciates the massive intellectual achievement of the founding fathers. If liberty were so ingrained in humanity we would not have needed such radical exceptionalism.
I appreciate your comment and allowing me to unpack a nuanced sentence more fully. I apologize that I was not able to get to this point more succinctly in the article and that I saw your comment today.
First, I might ask logically how Jefferson could write that this truth of Liberty was self-evident without it being engrained in human nature? The human condition and history has shown our rights were inherent to us but they were violated or inadequately protected throughout history. Perhaps I might be able to turn your phrase and say that the idea is not delusional, but that the actions of conservatives are. I would agree with you that it is delusional to merely say that phrase and then lazily hope that by stating fact that it will mysteriously seep into their conscious political actions. The call to action of this article is to point out to those around you how they exhibit freedom and educate them about it, the antithesis of the conservative delusion you point out.
Second, I would argue with your premise on the analysis of human history; that because human history is bursting with the violation of rights that Liberty is not shown as a natural human condition. I concur with the concept that there is also an intrinsic need for power amongst an individual, but I daresay that the desire to be free & independent is far more fervorous than the need to be in power of another. The Germanic tribes fought against the mighty Roman Empire. The French rebelled against their power-hungry overlords. God even warned the Jews that they would not like having a King and that the King would violate their rights and steal their children away from them. The American’s fought against the British. Qin Shi Huang believed people were evil and ruled accordingly and his dynasty fell apart only years after he died. I struggle not to see the connection that all throughout history, when a people is tyrannized, at some point they rebel and cast aside the shackles that bound them. The unfortunate root of the problem is that when they cast aside these power-hungry tyrants, they did not have the American Ideal to found a government that protected their rights. They did not have the exceptional understanding of virtue and liberty that our founders had.
The founding fathers believed that Liberty was self-evident, but they also believed that power corrupts and will be used against other human beings. This understanding of history is what made them found a government that sought to restrict the power of government and to protect individuals.
Lastly, what makes the American founding so exceptional is not that they “discovered” Liberty (again, it is self-evident), it is that they founded this country on an audacious idea, making it the first country to be founded in such a way. This is truly exceptional and in no way detracts from the founding fathers, in fact it makes their achievement even more extraordinary. They did what Plato and Aristotle and every philosophical thinker that followed could not: create a form of government contrary to every form of government tried in prior human history that protects an individual’s rights.
We should show people that they exhibit freedom in their personal choices but then advocate against that very freedom in their political ideologies. People love choosing their own coffee, the cars they drive, what to name their children, how to raise those children, what they are going to drink at dinner, where to walk, what to read, what their hobbies are, and the list truly is as endless as the mind is innovative. I have travelled the world and played with children in Africa who made a soccer ball out of plastic bags and rope. After the game finished, that soccer ball was taken home by the child that made it. They instinctually knew what private property was even though they lived in a country that did not protect those rights nor did they have a classical education of these rights. It is delusional not to acknowledge that Liberty is the natural response we have as humans, regardless of culture or language. But through a lack of civic knowledge, many are not educated on what this brilliant gift is and how it should be acknowledged and admonished through the proper role of government, individual rights, and civic knowledge. Many do not understand that these rights belong to us simply by being born (or conceived… another issue at another time) and are violated across the world. Just because these rights are violated or were violated in the past does not mean that they are not engrained on the human condition, it merely means they either did not have the means or power to fight for their rights or did not know they had them.
I refuse to believe that human tendency is not to turn to freedom versus force.