Conservative Versus Libertarian, Who Is Right? Part Two: Today we are concluding the discussion on the important difference between being a libertarian and being a conservative. We dive into the foundational belief systems that both sides are founded on. Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date:Â 12/28/2018
Guest: David Azerrad
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we”re talking about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
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We’re going to pick up where we left off yesterday. We’re going to dive right back into the presentation with Tim Barton and David Azzerad. This is at the Profamily Â Legislators Conference. Here they are, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
A Better Understanding of Conservatism
We need to have a better understanding of Conservatism.
We need to learn to give a better account of who we are, and not sound like them, because if you accept these premises, you have to legalize all drugs. You have to legalize prostitution. You shouldn’t even have borders, because people should be allowed to trade with who they want and work for whom they want. Let’s look at the conservative worldview.
Do we believe in individuals? Of course we do. This is America. It’s right there in the second paragraph of our cherished Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
We believe, to quote one of my favorite Americans—this year marks the 200 anniversary of his birth—Frederick Douglass. “We believe that men are born with legs. Not that they are in need of crutches.”
This is America. There’s this manly spirit of self-reliance, of pulling yourself by the bootstraps, of recognizing the dignity of the individual, of recognizing the rights of the individual.
But, the beginning of wisdom with conservatism is to ask yourself, “OK, how do you get individuals? Where do they come from?”
When I teach the interns at the Heritage Foundation, I tell them, “I look at all of you here. You’ve been sitting here very quietly, taking notes politely. When they met you 20 years ago, you would have been monsters. You would have been yelling, crying, throwing food at one another. Who civilized you?”
Well, it turns out that to be a conservative is to recognize this radical idea: that individuals are embedded in families, and that any political theory worth its salt has to include the family.
Our Founding Fathers knew this. They didn’t emphasize it in the Declaration or in the Constitution because everyone at the time took it for granted. It is an indictment of the crazy age we live in that this obvious point needs to be made.
And I want to tell you something. When we speak of the family in this context, it’s not from a religious point of view, allowable as that may be, it’s from a political point of view, i.e, these families we recognize as conservatives, what matters from a political point of view is not the love between the adults, it”s the fact that they produce children, and that children don’t need parents.
The Science of Association
There is no such thing as parenting, there is mothering and fathering.
There are differences between men and women, and if you want to produce the next generation of citizens, you need to be attentive to the health of the family. These families, in turn, belong to churches because we are religious people.
Now, I say churches and not religious congregations, not because I think that everyone in America is obliged to be a Christian, but because I recognize that in this country the general culture, which decisively shaped America, has not been religion, but Christianity. These churches in turn, and these families and these individuals, belong to an innumerable number of civic associations.
What do we do with our liberty in America? We join. We come together.
Tocqueville saw this when he came to America in 1835 and wrote Democracy—well, he came in 1818, but he published Democracy in 1835.
He said, “Americans have mastered the science of association. They know how to do things on their own.”
So where I’m from, in Quebec, we have not mastered the science of association. We have mastered the science of, “I paid my taxes, let someone else take care of it.”
And what starts to happen in places like that, which is, by the way, what you see in places where the state has grown so much, all of these mediating institutions of civil society, what happens to them? They disappear. What are you left with? The state and the individual.
The Hollowing of Civil Society
The families collapse, the churches collapse, the civic associations collapse. One by one, you have this hollowing out of civil society. So one thing I would tell you is if you care about liberty, and you should care about liberty, it’s not just libertarians who care about liberty, you have to care about the vibrancy of civil society.
When you worry about a government intervention in these realms, it’s because you realize that even with the best of intentions, the state can come in and displace and weaken the institutions of civil society.
Again, go to the worst parts of America. You will see a lot of government, a lot of individuals. You will not see mediating institutions.
We are a federated republic in America, if there is one state that understands this, it’s Texas, right? If you’re from Connecticut, it’s not exactly a state that you’d want to die for, and you’re so passionate about, right? It’s basically a suburb of New York City. But Texas is a state that brings out strong emotions and people.
Moment From American History.
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. American Patriot Paul Revere road to alert Americans of the impending arrival of the British. But he also sought patriot leader Samuel Adams and John Hancock to warn them that the British were seeking their execution.
Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington. When they asked Pastor Clark if his church was ready for the approaching British he replied, “I’ve trained them for this very hour. They will fight and, if need be, die under the shadow of the house of God.”
Later that morning 70 men from his church, and several hundred British in the first battle of the War for Independence. As Pastor Clark affirmed, “The militia that morning were the same who filled the pews of the church meeting house on the Sunday morning before.”
The American church was regularly at the forefront of the fight for liberty. For more information on this pastor and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.
States Don”t Have Rights, People Have Rights
We recognize in America that there are 50 states. Now, here is a big mistake that conservatives make: We talk about states” rights.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
That term has more baggage than a Samsonite factory. You say states” rights, people hear segregation now, segregation forever. The other thing I’d like to remind you of is, if you do a little word search on the constitution for the words states rights”, you will not find it.
We have rights as individuals. States have no rights, they have powers.
If you need to talk about federalism today, steal the left’s favorite word. Federalism is a synonym for diversity. That’s exactly what federalism means. It means that we’re a very big country. We’re divided on a whole bunch of issues, we will not agree on everything. Why not have 50 different models of governance?
Why not let Texas be Texas, and then Vermont be Vermont? Do we need to homogenize? Can’t we accept differences? Why would we, to use Silicon Valley lingo, allow citizens to customize their government?
Now ultimately though, you can’t leave it at that because we are not just 50 states politically, which is the most important one, is that we belong to a country. What is it that you want to conserve as a conservative? At the most fundamental level, it is your country.
Remember the Declaration of Independence? It doesn’t begin with the self-evident truths of the second paragraph. It begins with the proclamation that we are one people who are assuming a separate and equal station amongst the sovereign powers of the earth.
We are a people. Yes, we are different and diverse in many ways, but we are also bound together by a common language, a shared past, a love of country, and a deep and abiding concern for the well-being of our fellow American citizens.
Conservatism is about solidarity. We are not contrary to what the libertarians say, a random assemblage of individuals each going about their private lives consuming and having fun. Nor are we what our friends on the left say. Which is a balkanized nation of hyphenated Americans who belong to these communities, the LGBTQ community, the African-American community, and we’re all fighting against one another for a slice of the pie.
We are one nation and we are one nation under God. We are not a theocracy. All conservatives believe in the first amendment, which means that every American, by virtue of being a human being, has the right to freely worship God, and also that—at least as the founding fathers understood it—the Federal Government should have no established religion. We had established churches in the States, we no longer do because the Supreme Court incorporated the first amendment. Whether or not that’s the right thing to do is a separate matter. But that’s what happened. We have no hostility to religion.
The Story of Joe Kennedy
We don’t think that religion is a threat to the health of the country. Have you guys heard the horrifying story of this football coach in Washington, Joe Kennedy?
Honestly, I’d like to think that I can’t get shocked anymore and yet I still do. He got fired, he’s a football coach at a public school, because he would kneel in silence with his team for 15 seconds before a game to pray. That, supposedly, is an establishment of a church. It’s a violation of the first amendment.
That is lunacy.
This very lent hostility we have, by the way I shouldn’t say the religion. It’s always Christianity. It’s never to Judaism, it’s never to Islam, or to Buddhism or the John C. Zimm—Mormonism too, I guess, is the only one that gets into the crosshairs. It is always an open target.
That is not what the Founding Fathers intended. So start to think of it this way. Of course there’s the individual, but there are all these other layers in which the individual is embedded and enmeshed in. But it doesn’t end here.
The last part of being a conservative is to say, “OK I’m an individual. I look out to my fellow countrymen. I look up to God. But I also look to the past the generation that came before me and I look forward to posterity.”
America is an Intergenerational Compact
This kind of messy drawing here is meant to capture the sense of America as an intergenerational compact. Each generation is linked to the other one. And the job of each generation is to do what they can to care for the one that came before it, and to care for the one that will come after it. I really, really dislike this habit we’ve gone into that each generation needs to name itself.
You’re the Greatest Generation, there are Baby Boomers, I’m Generation X, there are Millennials, as if we’re trying to emancipate ourselves from the other generations. That is not the right way to think about it.
The most beautiful statement I know of this is found in Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum address. That would be my only homework assignment for you guys. It’s seven pages long. I know you can read it. Here’s what he says.
This is in 1838.
“We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions. Conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, then mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them, they are a legacy bequeathed to us by a once hardy, brave and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, the race of the ancestors,” and then he sums up, “What is before us, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity.”
Isn’t that beautiful?
This Precarious Moment Book
This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.
Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.
These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.
Gratitude VS Outrage
Gratitude for those who came before us, versus what are we taught today? Outrage at the sins of the father.
Thomas Jefferson was a rapist. They were all racists. Contempt for the past. No, to be a conservative is gratitude.
We didn’t—If I may quote Obama—we didn’t build this. We did not build America, we inherited it, and now our job is to transmit it, we are custodians, we are trustees. Our job is to take what we received and to pass it on to the next generation. If I had to sum up conservatism, which is a very hard thing to do because conservatism is not an ideology. Ideology is bad.
I know it’s come to mean a synonym for philosophy or worldview, but think of it this way.
If I call you, sir, an ideology, is that a compliment? Of course not. It means you’re a close minded, fanatic, dogmatic person.
Conservatism shouldn’t be an ism. It’s very hard to capture. Look at the mess I’ve drawn. This is trying to do justice to the complexities of life, to not reduce everything to one mindless principle. But if I had to try to define conservatism, to me the most beautiful definition is found in the preamble of our Constitution.
It’s the sixth and final reason why we the people do hereby ordain and establish this government. Does anyone know what it is? To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
As conservatives, this is how we think. Why? Because this teaches us two very important things about our country.
The first one is, of course, we care about liberty.
Because it yields blessings.
Only a fool would look at the degeneration of his country and say, “Oh. All is well because it’s unfolding under the auspices of liberty.”
We care about the blessings of liberty, which means we recognize that not all uses of liberty will yield blessings. The second thing this teaches us is that it’s not just for us, it’s for us and our posterity. We have no right to squander the blessings of liberty. Which means two things.
First of all, we need a posterity. And this is a very big problem, not only in America, but in the entirety of the developed world. There is only one developed nation in the world whose fertility rate is above replacement. Any guesses as to what that country might be? So two point one is the magic number. If every woman is having two point one children, the population is constant.
Every single developed nation in the world—I didn’t just say Western—every developed nation is below that except for one.
It is Israel.
We”re at one point seven now in America. We are losing the will to live. That’s why, by the way, that it is a no brainer that to be a conservative is to be pro-life. But it’s not enough to have children. They’re not born ready to enjoy the blessings of liberty. They need to be raised a certain way. That’s why we care about the family, that’s why we care about virtue, that’s why we talk about education. I’ll put it to you this way: there are no social issues, there are only posterity issues.
I hate that word, social issue. Why? I’m a serious person. I do economic policy and foreign policy. Social issues? Oh. That’s for old people and Christians to kind of play with.
Let us do the serious work of doing economic policy and domestic issues. These are the most serious issues. All of these social issues are posterity issues. They are about keeping the path we are on sustainable.
Have any of you here read the book or seen the movie the Children of Men by P.D. James? Do you remember the premise? She posits a world in which children are no longer born. So something happened, she doesn’t say what, and the book begins. The youngest person in the world is 21 years old.
If I lived in that world, I would be a libertarian. You, sir, could do all the drugs you want. I would not care. Because you know what? It’s all gonna end.
I would just ask that you leave me alone.
Bring A Speaker To Your Area
Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. Â And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional.
And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”
Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you”ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton with another moment from American history. As the American War for Independence began, the president of Yale was the Reverend Naphtali Daggett. When New Haven, the home of Yale, came under attack about a hundred citizens rushed out to meet the British.
The Reverend Daggett galloped by them on horseback, his clearable robes flowing behind him in the wind. He took up a solitary position atop a hill. The 2,500 British soon put the townsfolk to flight but the Reverend Daggett continued to stand alone firing down on the advancing troops.
A British officer confronted him, “What are you doing there you old fool? If I let you go, will you ever fire again on the troops of his majesty?” Nothing more likely was the preacher’s reply. America’s early pastors personally confronted danger and courageously led their communities.
For more information on Pastor Daggett and other colonial Patriots, go to WallBuilders.com.
“Is This Sustainable?”
Don’t aggress. Otherwise marry your sister, do meth, nothing matters. There is no we, there are individuals waiting to die.
We do not live in that world. Last time I checked, there still is a posterity. There still should be a posterity. That’s why we need to learn to rethink about all of these issues, not just in terms of how do they affect the individual, but how do these actions reverberate across the political community and across time.
To be a conservative is to ask yourself the question not just, “Well, I’m a free person. Do I get to do this?”
It”s to ask yourself, “Is this sustainable?”
These are my closing words, and I think it’s the perfect way to set it up for the next talk. At the level of thinking about that, it is undeniably clear that drugs are not compatible with securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. If you start to trace through the reverberations, the ripple effects that drugs have in communities, you realize that they are the antidote to community. They destroy families, they destroy lives.
The difficulty then becomes—and this is not the question I’m going to answer—what do you do about it?
This is where we need to think about having the right kinds of policies that can eliminate the scourge of drugs in the right way. This is what the next speaker will help you think through. Thank you very much.
Conservative Versus Libertarian and More at WallBuilders Live!
Well folks, you’ve been listening to David Â Azzerad. He is from the Heritage Foundation. Before him was Tim Barton in part one yesterday.
If you tuned in, in the middle of program today, and you want the complete program, please visit WallBuildersLive.com today, and right there on the website you’ll find today’s program, which was part 2 of the conservative case against libertarianism.
But you can also get yesterday’s program, which was part 1, and take both of those. I would encourage you to share them. Take both of them and send it out on Facebook and Twitter and let your friends and family know about this education that’s available here on WallBuilders Live.
We are so grateful for you as a listener, we thank you for joining us and letting us share with you one of these presentations from the Profamily Legislators Conference. And again, we encourage you share it with other people.
We also ask you to go to WallBuilders.com today and consider making a donation to the program. We are a listener support program, and it’s your financial support that makes this possible. Thanks so much for listening today. This has been WallBuilders Live.