Why the future of the conservative movement and its ability to lead and win depends on all three legs of the Reagan stool: moral values, military might and fiscal sanity
“Divide and conquer” is a sound military tactic. Every army that wants to win cannot rely simply on the righteousness of its cause, but must also adopt a winning strategy. “Divide and conquer” has been employed by the left like a maul to splinter conservative America.
Unfortunately, the left has won important victories, not because of the truthfulness of their beliefs, but because they managed to maintain a united front.
President Ronald Reagan understood the importance of the “divide and conquer” principle so well that he crafted the metaphor of the “three-legged stool” to represent the conservative movement’s strength. The three legs — defined as social, fiscal, and defense conservatives — are integral parts of the same unified movement. All three are important. All three make vital contributions. All three support the common good.
In such a complex struggle, many conservative groups specialize on issues pertaining to only one leg of the stool. However, a general consensus to keep all three legs standing within the broader movement and to refrain from attacking any of the other legs has been the open secret to the victories of the conservative movement.
Americans are receptive to all three legs of the stool. We are a God-fearing people who cherish the traditional family, oppose the decline of American military might, and roundly reject socialism. Leftist policies such as abortion, gun control, cap-and-trade, Obamacare and Common Core are discredited and unpopular. Our movement now has a chance to seize the moment, set the agenda and roll back liberal policies. But we must not allow self-inflicted division to squander this opportunity. The truth is on our side. Unity will increase our strength.
Society thrives on virtue. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports,” wrote George Washington in his Farewell Address. The traditional family structure is precisely where moral values are taught, learned and passed down from generation to generation.
Only a nation that respects the Ten Commandments and God’s plan for life, marriage and family can hope to produce men and women of high moral character. If we allow ourselves to swallow the liberal philosophy of the sixties — “If it feels good, do it!” — we will, as Judge Robert Bork put it, continue slouching toward Gomorrah.
The Sexual Revolution is a nightmare of leftist design: 50% divorce rate, 40% of children born out-of-wedlock, the pornography epidemic, 110 million Americans with a sexually transmitted disease, and 57 million surgical abortions since 1973. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control show how the homosexual “lifestyle” causes elevated rates of HIV/AIDS infections, domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide.
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With the rise of court-imposed homosexual “marriage,” some voices have argued that the conservative movement should avoid discussing morality altogether. The liberal canard that homosexual vice is “inevitable” and that social issues only get in the way of “more important” economic concerns is false. To forfeit the sacred institution of marriage and family not only jeopardizes the stability of the Reagan stool, but also drives millions of pro-family Americans away from the voting booth. Social conservatives thirst for authenticity and enthusiastically support political leaders who defend moral values.
The conservative movement should never fail to take advantage of every occasion to remind the left that their failed ideology is the cause of so many societal ills which must be reversed.
Strong National Defense
From George Washington to General Douglas MacArthur, from Col. John W. Ripley, USMC, to Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor, American families have consistently produced men of character, courage, self-sacrifice and, above all, honor. Our country’s love of righteousness and honor made possible the raising of our flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, the storming of the beaches on D-Day and the defeat of Islamist terrorists in Fallujah.
A strong American military has been the cornerstone of world peace in face of both Communism and Islamist terrorism for almost a century. The conservative movement understands the wisdom of the ancient Roman adage “si vis pacem, para bellum” (if you want peace, prepare for war), the importance of a strong military and an assertive, unambiguous foreign policy that reassures our allies and gives pause to our enemies.
The United States is not just another country but a symbol for many nations – a symbol of order, respect for the rule of law, traditional Christian values and a willingness to sacrifice for others that leads our troops to fight for what is right and good.
However, foreign policy anchored in cowardly appeasement of our enemies, disloyal abandonment of our allies and shameful retreat from the world stage, has contributed to the most unstable and dangerous geopolitical situation since the world wars.
- The rise of the Islamic State (ISIL) has intensified the struggle between Islamic terrorism and the West.
- Vladimir Putin is hell bent on beating down his neighbors, reconstituting the old Soviet Union and shredding the NATO alliance.
- Communist China is funding the largest arms buildup in the world and regularly threatens Japan, South Korea and the Philippines – all American allies.
Conservatives must resist the temptation to isolate ourselves or appease our enemies like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain did with Adolf Hitler. Rather, we must stand up to and confront the enemies of order.
Restore Fiscal Sanity
U.S. National Debt has surpassed $18 trillion. Every day, our debt increases by $4 billion. Every hour, our government borrows $168 million.
Our economy is coming apart under crushing burdens of debt. There is personal, corporate and state and local government debt. There is also out-of-control federal spending and runaway trade deficits fueled by a manufacturing base that has largely moved off-shore to hostile and threatening communist China.
No one expects a house without a foundation to survive a hurricane. Likewise, it is unreasonable to expect that, as the winds resulting from decades of profligate, irresponsible fiscal behavior reach gale strength, our society will withstand their destructive power.
There is a deeper problem here that must be addressed: economy without a moral foundation is like a ship without a rudder. Therefore, to get back on course and avoid even greater economic instability, the conservative movement must harness lasting solutions based on firm principles.
As John Horvat writes in his award-winning book Return to Order: “The main problem lies with a restless spirit of intemperance that is constantly throwing our economy out of balance. It is made worse by a frenetic drive generated by a strong undercurrent in modern economy that seeks to be rid of restraints and gratify disordered passions. We call the resulting spirit ‘frenetic intemperance,’ which is now pushing the country headlong into the throes of an unprecedented crisis.”
Horvat offers compelling solutions based on an organic Christian society. “When economy is seen in the context of society, it allows the natural restraining influence of human institutions such as customs, morals, family or community to calm markets and create social trust. Economy then becomes anchored in the true mooring of the cardinal virtues, which creates a climate of honesty that favors commerce and keeps markets free and fair.”
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The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls on the conservative movement to keep Reagan’s three-legged stool standing, reinforce the movement’s authenticity, cohesion and consistency and thus multiply our combined strengths exponentially to win the Culture War for the heart and soul of America.
May God bless America.
February 25, 2015
The American TFP