No organization can be credibly understood as conservative unless it explicitly articulates how it defines “conservatism.” There are a myriad of ways to do this, but inherent in the definition must be an understanding that it is not in the nature of conservatism to be rigidly ideological at the expense of realism in a universe where we are each given an exceedingly limited and temporary pilgrimage.
The oft recurring conceit of man-centeredness—or self-centeredness—is the characteristic mistake of leftist ideologies, in that they arrogantly manifest themselves as profane attempts to project amoral, a priori abstractions onto reality under the guise of infallible reason and technological mastery.
Conservatism, by contrast, accommodates the physical reality and metaphysical parameters of the universe as philosophical givens for which mankind has been designed to discover and apply, through which the highest purpose and greatest spiritual fulfillment of every unique individual is realized.
Society, culture, religion, politics and morality are the universal artifacts and expressions of mankind’s universal journey through existence. But for any of these things to be truly conservative, they must incorporate both a humble recognition of man’s place in the universe, and an appreciation of the timeless lessons of accumulated historical experience.
In the service of this imperative—the repudiation of which continues to erode every hard-won quality of the American Republic—conservatism must be explicitly defined. And so, inspired by the example and wisdom of America’s founders, and in the awareness that all legitimate political institutions must develop organically out of preexisting metaphysical understandings, CROW’s founders have refined and articulated this set of 12 Foundational Conservative Principles as a definitive statement of the self-evident truths, values and cultural understandings characteristic of American and Wyoming conservatism:
1. The Sovereign Nature of God – That God necessarily exists, being the Creator of a purposeful universe, physical laws, and a transcendent moral order, from which all the liberties, rights and laws of men and nations properly derive.
2. The Imperfect Nature of Man – That the established Judeo-Christian understanding of human nature insures a humble recognition of man’s imperfections, which separate him from God to the extent that earthly governments are necessary for the order and protection of human societies, though not in themselves sufficient to perfect or save men or nations.
3. The Limited Nature of Government – That governments are empowered by the consent of the governed, and are therefore limited, constitutional and representative, being only objectively good and just in direct proportion to the degree of virtue to be found within the governed.
4. The Family as Foundation of Civilization – That the fundamental unit of civilization is the family— deriving from the marriage of one man and one woman—rather than the individual; that secondary institutions which complement or fortify the family are both natural and necessary for the preservation of civilization.
5. The Primary Purpose of Government – That the first duty of government is the security of its people and their God-given freedoms, requiring the defense of its sovereign borders from external threats, the preservation of the peace of its internal society and institutions, and the protection of human life from conception to natural death.
6. The Federal Principle – That the optimal justice and efficiency of a civilized society occurs when nothing is enacted at a higher level of government than is necessary.
7. The Genius of the U. S. Constitution – That the original intent of the U. S. Constitution should be observed in practice and interpretation; that all powers not expressly enumerated to the federal government are reserved to the sovereign states and to the people.
8. The Decentralization of Power – That political powers should be divided, counter-balanced, and diffused; that government should never undertake to do for individuals and institutions what they may reasonably do for themselves.
9. The Fiscal Imperative – That a free economy depends upon the secure ubiquity of private property; that taxation must never be levied without a legitimate need for revenue to perform the limited tasks of government; that government expenditures must not exceed revenues.
10. The Basis of Order – That rights carry with them responsibilities; that ordered liberty is dependent upon personal honor and respect for the rule of law.
11. The Basis of Freedom – That freedom is a moral accomplishment, being achieved and maintained through the deliberate cultivation of virtue and the prudent exercise of vigilance by an armed, informed, and involved citizenry.
12. The Primacy of Western Civilization – That the genius of Western Civilization, manifested by and through its enduring faith, principles and wisdom, inherited and refined through the long historical experience of successive generations, constitutes an unsurpassed spiritual, philosophical and cultural endowment that is worthy of defense and perpetuation.
These Foundational Principles are intended to serve as the political expression of a rigorously originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution, as upheld by trust in God and natural institutions, limited and decentralized government, and virtuous, self-reliant citizens. And, as these blessings have been made manifest by a devotion to the philosophical inheritance, a respect for the religious understanding, and an appreciation for the enduring genius of western civilization, these principles are conservative in the fullest meaning of the term.
Upon and around such principles, sincere conservatives can yet rally, revitalizing them through political action committees such as CROW, and employing them as a guide for successful political organizations such as our own Wyoming Republican Party. As the definitive representation of CROW’s internal integrity, and the clarity and transparency of its most sublime ideals before the world, these twelve points of foundational principle will be the standard by which CROW shall measure all members, applicants, candidates and public officials.