Inigo Montoya’s famous words, originally meant for the word “inconceivable” has broadened into a meme that can most aptly be applied to various political jargon, because too often the broken promises of lying politicians has rendered words devoid of meaning. In Conservative circles, the word “principled” has been abused by phonies. In leftist circles, the word is applied to actors who pretend to be Conservative to elevate their credibility when they bash Trump or Conservative policies. One seemingly consistent usage is the word’s lack with regards to Donald Trump.
A more politically correct dichotomy used by the media in the Republican Civil War was pragmatic Republicans vs ideological, anti-establishment Republicans. Pragmatic was used back in 2016 to describe RINOs like Chris Christie, because pragmatic is a campaign buzzword for RINO. Principled is the candidate signal to the voters that they are real Conservatives. But over the election cycles, “principled” has become nothing more than a campaign buzzword.
To credit Glenn Beck and Steve Deace respectively, “principled” is as devoid of meaning in political campaign as “common sense solutions” or “waste, fraud, and abuse.” And let’s not forget “balanced budget amendments” and “supporting veterans.” Politics is filled with many words that sound nice but mean absolutely nothing. Political media and punditry is as well and the word “principled” has been misapplied more than accurately applied.
Who is Principled?
Better question: what are our principles?
Perhaps the ambiguity surrounding the word “principled” stems from so many on the real or pretend right not knowing or being able to articulate the Conservative tenets. Conservatism is premised around the fallen and corrupt nature of man. Mankind cannot, by means of social experimenting or removing governance, perfect itself. The central tenant of Conservatism, stemming from the core premise of fallen nature, is the belief that government exists solely to protect natural rights, the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, where in a state of nature the violation of these rights would be unnavigable.
Every Conservative position stems from the core statement above. The Pro-Life position is the proper Conservative position because it demands the government to protect the right to life for unborn children. Being pro-gun is likewise an extension of the natural right to life and a recognition that fallen men given power will eventually succumb to tyranny. The bolded statement is a vision statement for Conservatism. Socialism violates the right of property. Progressivism operates well outside the scope of Conservative governance, as does social democracy.
Principles are like Nationalism
If flip-flopping is viewed as pragmatic, a consistent stance is considered principled. Principle defined by Merriam-Webster
“a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption”
Nationalism is an incomplete ideology. It can be paired with socialism, which is what fascism is. It can be paired with Conservatism, Progressivism, Populism, Monarchism, and endless isms except its opposite: globalism. Whether Nationalism is good or bad is wholly dependent on whether your country sucks or not. Being a Nationalist for South Africa is not equivalent to being a Nationalist for the United States. Being principled is only good if your principles don’t suck.
Bernie Sanders is probably the most principled member of Congress. He believed in socialism before it was cool and has a voting record that strongly corresponds to his beliefs. But similarly Mitch McConnell is principled because he has never wavered from his core beliefs in self-enrichment and perpetual power. The only people in Congress, or politics, who aren’t principled are those who don’t have their own thoughts. Everyone else is principled and it’s a matter of whether their principles suck or not. So instead of arguing who is and who isn’t principled, we should instead be articulating what our principles actually are.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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