As yet another school year begins, and with a significant presidential election looming, incoming freshmen and transfer students will likely find themselves with little time to ease themselves into AU’s charged political climate. They will learn the debates can be intense, feelings passionate, and that AU is as much an array of devoted activists who can quickly mobilize as it is an academic institution. Some students may already be decided on their political affiliations, while others may still be searching for an ideology to believe in. Others may even be misinformed - a charge made respectfully - but it should be noted that despite political rhetoric to the contrary, neither the Republican nor Democratic parties truly represent conservatism or liberalism anymore.
To be fair, both parties represent some of their base ideology, but both have reached a time where they have drifted so far to the center that far too many Americans are left without a political party in which they feel completely comfortable. The parties may not even be to blame for this, as the moderate and swing vote is considered to be the most significant voting bloc in today’s increasingly split America.
This writer is a lifelong Republican with a mixture of Libertarian viewpoints who maintains support for the Republican Party despite some discontent at a party shifting further to the center. This column stems from the realization that many individuals will continue to view the Republican Party itself as an example of conservatism. In reality, some things the Republicans do are conservative, others are not. And that is fine - I still stand proudly by my party and will be voting for President Bush this fall. The party has every right to go in whichever direction it so chooses, but observers should not be so quick to label conservatism as the enemy simply because they disapprove of a few things the Republicans may be doing, just as they should not label liberalism as bad just because they disapprove of the actions of the Democrats.
Last year, the recently elected party leader of the Conservatives in Great Britain, Michael Howard, laid forth the principles at the core of his involvement in politics. Conservative thought differs around the world and even from person to person. As with any ideology, no collection of individuals will ever agree on every issue. But in the tradition of Howard, the undecided of AU ought to learn broadly what conservatism means and then be given the chance to decide whether that ideology is in line with their own beliefs.
We conservatives believe people are better and more effective at running their own lives than their government.
We believe in lower taxes and less government spending, because when individuals have more of their own money, they have greater personal economic freedom to make their own choices.
We believe that a government that is more limited allows the people to be more free, and that at the present moment ours is a government that has grown both too large and beyond its constitutional mandate.
We believe that if the Constitution does not allow government jurisdiction over a particular area, it is not the business of the federal government to attempt to legislate or regulate it.
We believe local governments function better than federal or state ones, but that individual people can function even better.
We believe that government ought to do what the people cannot do, not that which the people will not or refuse to do.
We believe that peace is the highest ambition, but the United States and all other nations around the world have a right to defend their sovereignty whenever their security may be threatened.
We believe the United States knows better than the United Nations what is best for America.
We believe this is a nation fit for heroes, but the greatest heroes are the firefighters, policemen and soldiers who protect us, and the mothers and fathers who raise our families.
We believe parents are better suited to educate our children than the government, and that it is their responsibility to do so.
We believe the family is the single most important element in building a stronger society.
We believe individuals are strengthened through faith, that scripture - whether the Bible, Torah, or Koran - is the ultimate law, and that individuals should be free to practice or not practice their faith as they so choose.
And lastly, we believe that a free society is one in which ideas can be freely exchanged, opposing ideologies can be debated fervently, yet respected, but still one in which given the facts, the people will recognize the merits of conservatism.
Timothy Meyer is a senior in the School of Communication.