A provocative statement to be sure. Was spoken by John Curtis at one of his campaign events. Is it true?
The Proper Role of Government
While eating the free lunch provided by the Curtis campaign at Los Hermanos John Curtis warned us that he was probably going to offend the whole room with his next statement. “There is no such thing as a true conservative” he said, then followed it with something like “everyone wants something from government.” The knee jerk response was “how dare you!” Especially since I put that as one of my campaign pillars. After considering the statement for a bit and looking around the room to see quite a few nodding heads, I realized that he’s probably mostly right. These days we seem to espouse a lot of conservative principles but I can’t think of anyone in my life that hasn’t had at least one big issue where they were like “and the government should…” fill in the blank. I suspect I’ve done it before as well.
After giving it some consideration, I was ok with leaving it as a pillar, because I believe it is an ideal that we should strive for whether we are living up to its definition or not. I would also say that there are a lot of people that could probably easily be considered “true conservatives” but you aren’t likely to find them in a room full of politicians and delegates. They are probably working hard somewhere on a farm or other working environment doing their best to support their family with no question or desire to be dependent on government for anything, all while trying to keep the rules that government puts on them. It does lead to a good conversation about what a “true conservative” really is. While I had to somewhat agree with John Curtis, his follow up statement was “…and thats a good thing.” I’m not going to parse that idea to much. I think I know what he meant. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and take the spirit of his comment and not the literal meaning. Otherwise, I’m not sure it is a good thing. I think we should recognize the parts of us that are not truly conservative and question with boldness if we are not taking the convenient approach to government or life. What we rely on government for should not be taken lightly or be an easy decision because our reliance becomes everyone’s reliance. Our delegation of responsibility means it applies to all the rest as well.
This idea raises the question as well as to the proper role of government. What was it meant to do. The state and federal constitution does a great job defining it. I’m not sure we do a great job of holding ourselves to that standard, or at least stretching the defined roles so far out that they are hardly recognizable to their original form or intent. Perhaps that is what John Curtis meant as well, that we are no longer truly conservative because we have strayed so far from the original intent. I doubt it, but I’m happy to expand the conversation to this idea. Can we be “truly conservative” when things have gotten so big and so bloated that it has become unrealistic that it could ever change in any dramatic kind of way? I’m stuck with the question and no real answer I like yet. I have a great desire to go to Salt Lake and make something of the question and hope to craft some real answers, not convenient ones.