WHAT IS AMERICAN CONSERVATISM?
The American Conservative Party represents a brand of Conservatism that we believe best reflects the true and noble intentions of our Founders, which in turn reflected the conclusions of thousands of years of human civilization.
We strongly believe in the freedoms and liberties ingrained in our founding documents; and we support the Constitution as it is written–to protect, among other things, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to petition the government, and the right to keep and bear arms.
American Conservatism stands for small, limited government at every level. It stands strongly for individual responsibility and a civil society where individuals take on duties to take care of their own communities, and where Government is the resource of last resort.
Taxes should be levied for the sole purpose of financing the limited responsibilities of government such as providing for the common defense, apprehending and incarcerating criminals, and adjudicating legal disputes. No taxes should be levied for for redistribution of wealth.
These ideals were first laid out in the form of our Creed and have served as the cornerstone of our agenda since our founding in 2008. As a Party driven by Principles, we offer this document to effectively expound on those ideals and lay down a framework for a return to limited, enumerated, and federalist government in the United States.
The American Conservative Party exists to empower the populace through education in the principles of personal responsibility, individual liberty, traditional American values, free markets, limited government, and a strong national defense. We believe the role of government is to protect the rights of free people to pursue their own goals and we espouse conservative policies that generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems. This Platform and our Party exist to promote and defend these traditions throughout the United States at the Local, State, and Federal level; and to support the election of candidates who personify these values…
We Believe (the ACP Creed):
Unalienable rights to life and liberty are given to us by our Creator; these rights exist separate from, and are superior to, government.
Individuals are responsible for securing the blessings of liberty through the exercise of their rights.
￼The individual is sovereign over one’s person; and his/her labors constitute a foundation for private property that is not subject to the demands of others.
Governments are formed by the will of the people to secure and defend human liberty.
Law exists to support liberty and mediate disputes where conduct of one infringes upon the rights of another.
The armed forces and law enforcement exist to bolster private defense, not supplant it.
The American Experiment was born out of these beliefs and it has resulted in a bountiful gain for the human condition.
Rights in a Free Society
Human rights are not, and cannot be, provisions of government, but instead are granted to us by our Creator. This principle applies to every level of government, and is unassailable and immovable. Thus, we are proponents of limited, enumerated, and well-defined Government which acts as a tool of the people to protect our rights. We believe this reflects not just the intentions of the Founders, but reality and truth–not tradition for tradition’s sake, but the foundation for a free and civil society.
Economic Freedom in Lieu of Central Planning
To the American Conservative Party, “conservative” means acknowledging the value of standing tradition, while resisting grand schemes imposed by majorities on the people. We believe a conservative approach to Government is to avoid hubris, and to give ample scope to the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”
Unfortunately, in the name of “progress” we in the United States have allowed decades of Federal, State, and Local Governments to embark on a crusade of “comprehensive planning”–striving to manipulate and guide human behavior through transportation, infrastructure, land use, and “economic development”–completely ignoring that the American experiment owes its success to the primacy of individual rights and private ownership of capital and property. Instead of grand schemes of national and regional planning, the American Conservative Party supports individual economic freedom and decentralized decision-making.
The Importance of Each Individual
Finally, we believe that each individual possesses the same intrinsic dignity and worth as every other, and that every individual should be protected by the rule of law against the tyranny of government or the majority. Accordingly, we believe in equal opportunity but not equal outcomes. Since redistribution of wealth runs counter to these values, we vigorously oppose any actions by government at any level to engage in such activities.
THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT
The U.S. Constitution is the framework the American people use to self-govern. It is not a guide to our liberty but a limit to the authority we grant government to serve our needs. We will support and defend it against all enemies that seek to control or rule over us, whether foreign or domestic. We admonish our elected officials to adhere to their oath of office expressly requiring them to “preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.” ￼
The Rule of Law
The American Conservative Party strongly believes that the United States should be governed by laws, and not by men. In keeping with our commitment to the dignity and equality under the law for each citizen and lawful resident of the United States, all should have access to the legal system as needed to defend their rights. Few things are as crucial to preserving our liberty and our prosperity as upholding and maintaining the rule of law, as established by our Founders.
Primacy of the Constitution
We oppose any effort to add to, replace, or interpret the Constitution with or by any international law, law of another nation, or theologically-based system. The Constitution can be the only document permissible for the legal interpretation of the laws of the United States, and we oppose any regulation or legislation which violates it.
Checks and Balances
The Constitution establishes a division of responsibility and authority for the creation, the enforcement, and the adjudication of our laws. We reject the notion that the Judicial Branch is the only legitimate word on what is Constitutional, and strongly believe that each branch has a sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution. Thus: Congress has to be prevented from passing laws which overstep their governing or spending authority; the Executive Branch must cease issuing “orders” or regulations without a supporting law from Congress; and a Federal judge or court which violates its oath to protect and defend our Constitution must be properly impeached.
Separation of Powers and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments
While the U.S. Constitution is the Supreme law of the land, this does not mean that the United States Government reigns supreme. We strongly support and affirm the primacy of the people of the United States and their respective States as provided for in the Constitution’s Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Both the State and Federal governments have limited, separated, and defined powers in Federal and State Constitutions which have been granted by citizens in order that their government may sensibly be entrusted to serve the purposes of their citizens, exercising sound government without endangering, subordinating, or otherwise limiting their rights or freedoms.
In light of this enumeration, we believe the vertical separation of powers is not only a proper, but necessary means of preventing our respective governments from being captured by special interests or by mob rule. If a State Government violates the rights of the people, then the Federal Government has a duty to step in and right that wrong. Conversely, if the Federal Government’s checks and balances fail to protect citizens’ Constitutional rights, or the Federal Government actively seeks to violate those rights, then it is left to the States to provide the check required to protect its citizens. No one has ever sworn an oath to protect and defend the Government of the United States–only its people, the Republic, and the Constitution which protects them.
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP AND LIBERTY
American citizenship not only encompasses protection of the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, but also the duties and obligations of each citizen to their communities through the institutions which support a civil society. We believe these institutions of family, churches, charities, and civic groups, have proven beneficial for the United States and for the world at large, and contribute greatly to why American citizenship has always been a prized commodity in the world.
We believe the United States can continue to be a beacon of hope for oppressed and disadvantaged people around the world, but only if we defend and uphold the meaning of United States citizenship– and human liberty–at all times.
The American Conservative Party affirms that The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. As a nation we must not be bound together by ethnicity, but by common ideals respecting our unalienable rights. A strong legal immigration system is an integral component of what makes America exceptional. For the United States to continue to grow and prosper as a nation, we support legal immigration and welcome newcomers who share our ideals and values and who seek to work hard to secure a better life for themselves and their families. This benefits our general economy, helps to ensure our security, reinforces the rule of law, and continues America’s tradition as a nation of legal immigrants.
With the current porous borders of the United States, where illegal aliens, violent drug cartel members, and terrorists enter the United States, it is necessary for the nation’s leadership to work cooperatively with Border States to address the problem forthwith. The American Conservative Party supports immediate action to:
Secure all borders
Vigorously enforce our existing immigration laws
Eliminate the magnets for illegal aliens
Prosecute employers who hire illegal aliens
The Federal Role in Law Enforcement
Certain areas of law enforcement were clearly intended by the Framers to be within the scope of the Federal Government. Among these are immigration, regulation of interstate commerce, dealing with crimes on Federal lands or against the Federal government, and handling criminal acts that cross state borders. However, we believe the Federal Government has greatly overstepped the Constitutional boundaries of its law enforcement powers, particularly since it has been established for more than two centuries that the “police power” belongs primarily to the States. As such, jurisdictional responsibility for crimes not specifically granted to the Federal government must be returned to the states. Federal agencies whose functions duplicate state and municipal agencies should be eliminated or greatly reduced.
The Second Amendment
The American Conservative Party is resolute in its support of the Second Amendment, which protects the basic individual right of self-defense and is essential to our functioning as a free society. We support the right of law-abiding citizens to possess and use firearms in defense of their families, their property and for all other lawful purposes, including the common defense. We oppose any legislation that seeks to ban gun ownership by lawful citizens and we will staunchly defend and protect the right of all law- abiding Americans to keep and bear arms.
Our defense of the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun-owners by no means grants anyone license to do malice with weapons of any kind. Anyone lawfully convicted of using a firearm during the ￼commission of a crime must be punished appropriately. Gun crime, just like any crime, requires law enforcement and the judiciary to employ the resources necessary to identify, apprehend, and punish criminals; but it does not justify burdening law-abiding citizens with overreaching legislation or regulation.
AMERICA’S PLACE IN THE WORLD
The American Conservative Party’s position on foreign policy is based on the conviction that the chief responsibility consigned to the Federal Government is the defense and protection of the people and all sovereign territory of the United States from all enemies—foreign or domestic. An effective Foreign Policy must realistically balance military, economic and diplomatic power to focus on international comportment with United States interests, rather than domestic conduct of other states.
American Independence and Sovereignty
American sovereignty embodies our country’s right to govern itself within our Constitutional framework and as such, the United States of America is an independent nation, governed by the American people, controlling our own affairs. We hold no allegiance to any other nation, regional power, global organization, or any other entity.
As a sovereign people, citizens of the United States of America enjoy liberty and freedoms that no other people in the world have. The independence of the United States has been procured and continues to be secured with the blood of brave Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to guarantee that independence. The American Conservative Party believes it is the responsibility of all American citizens to vigorously defend our nation’s sovereignty against all who would seek to deny it so that current and future generations may enjoy the freedoms bequeathed to us by our forefathers.
The American Conservative Party neither acknowledges nor accepts the authority of any non-U.S. Government organization (i.e., United Nations, International Monetary Fund, or any Global Alliance or International Charter) to levy any form of tax whatsoever on the free and sovereign individual citizen, group of citizens, or collectively as the United States of America. We will vigorously oppose any initiative by such organizations to tax American citizens.
Foreign Affairs and Alliances
The American Conservative Party acknowledges that other nation States should, and do, act to protect their sovereignty and security. The United States does not seek to be and the United Nations is not empowered to act as, global security agents. However, owing to growing global geopolitical volatility, we believe:
The United States must maintain active and ongoing diplomatic and peaceful dialogue with all nations desiring such relationships with the United States.
The United States must actively engage in strong global and regional alliances as an integral part of promoting peace and stability. The success of these alliances will necessarily be dependent on a mutual understanding and a firm commitment to defense and protection when either nation’s sovereignty is threatened.
The foregoing not withstanding, the United States must resist intervention in the domestic governance of any nation states where that governance is not a threat to the United States or its allies. The United States should embrace its role of advocating for individual liberties, as opposed to engaging in police action or imposition of any specific political system. ￼
The United States’ Foreign Policy must be underpinned by a strong economy and superior military capabilities to serve as a counterbalance to other nation states intent on imposing discordant influence on neighboring countries in their respective regions.
The United States must maintain a multi-pronged land, sea, air, space, and cyberpresence based on policies that employ both highly trained personnel equipped with the best weaponry and technology available.
The United States must maintain a credible and modern nuclear deterrent. Moreover, we strongly believe that the United States must lead in the effort to promote nuclear non- proliferation globally.
Use of Military Power
The citizens of the United States desire a peaceful world where all are permitted the enjoyment of liberty and freedom to pursue happiness. We do not believe it is in our national interest to impose ourselves into other nations or to instigate war with other nations without sufficient provocation; however, when United States interests are threatened and all peaceful means have been exhausted, the United States must exercise decisive military force to protect its vital interests or to defend its sovereignty.
When circumstances force the United States to take military action, we must execute it: (a) with the clear intent and requisite fiscal and political support to achieve a swift and decisive victory; (b) with clearly defined and realistic objectives; (c) with clear and unambiguous rules of engagement for our armed forces charged with decisively prosecuting the war exclusively under the authority of United States commanders; (d) with reasonable assurances of the national will and sustained support of the American people; and do so (e) in a manner compliant with the War Powers Act limiting hostilities past a ‘time certain’ without the requisite formal Declaration of War from The United States Congress.
AMERICA’S NATURAL RESOURCES
Federally Owned Land
The Federal Government currently owns nearly 30% of the land in the United States. A portion of this land is utilized for legitimate and proper functions of the Federal Government, but the vast majority is being held for the purpose of conservation and land management. The American Conservative Party believes the land that is required to support legitimate Government functions should be held in trust for the citizens, while the rest should be returned to the States. Any collective actions to preserve wetlands, wilderness areas, etc, can be determined by the citizens through their respective State Governments and voluntary trusts.
The economy and welfare of the United States requires a reliable and affordable supply of energy to fuel our various modes of transportation, our homes, and businesses; and any policies implemented by the Federal Government must focus on the areas where it is mandated to ensure a stable and growing economy and the security of the nation. This includes national defense concerns and the use of nuclear energy.
In general, though, we contend that American ingenuity, innovation, and productivity–driven by the private sector–is the most effective way to maximize the value and utilization of our vast supply of natural resources as well as enabling innovations in “renewable” energy sources. Therefore, we oppose ￼punitive restrictions on certain types of energy, and the use of taxpayer funding to supply large financial stimuli to favored corporate entities.
It has been proven for decades that governments are extremely feckless managers of our environment. We support the maximum use of private property rights in the protection of our beautiful country. To the extent that the Federal Government should be involved in preserving the environment, those efforts should have a concisely limited mandate. The EPA has gone from protecting our environment to managing human behavior for specific environmental outcomes; it needs to be completely reset with new, very limited authorities to enforce laws to protect our soil, water, and air from harmful pollution.
The United States Department of Agriculture has, since its inception, been an exercise in manipulation of food markets and the buying of rural votes in the name of protecting farmers. The American Conservative Party understands that the American food “system” is not a system at all, but a market with many moving parts that only the “invisible hand” of the market can manage. Since the Federal Government should not be involved in setting and manipulating prices in any industry, agriculture is no exception. The Federal Government’s role in Agriculture should be limited to food safety, plant and animal inspections, and limited conservation efforts.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE, TAXATION, AND TRADE
The Constitution clearly envisions an important role for the Federal Government in the economic sphere. We believe it is appropriate that Congress should regulate the methods and means of interstate commerce and foreign trade, but we also believe it should do so in a limited way. This regulation does not represent a mandate to manage or command the choice of individuals and businesses to engage or not engage in the marketplace.
Federal Taxation and Budgets
The American Conservative Party believes the sole purpose of Government taxation is to provide essential resources for the execution of the governments’ responsibilities as expressly established by the Constitution and the people. We support fiscal policies that maximize opportunities for citizens to enjoy the fruits of their own labor without interference from an overreaching government which unconstitutionally impacts the lives of its citizens.
The American Conservative Party opposes confiscatory, punitive, and divisive tax policies and we support the right of citizens to demand fiscal responsibility at all levels of government. It is, therefore, incumbent on citizens to demand that:
Government limits taxation to fund only those constitutionally authorized legitimate and essential government functions.
Government tax policies not be used in any manner to reward, punish, or to elicit or prohibit any specific behavior from individual citizens or group of citizens.
Where practical, government-levied taxes be collected by and dispersed by the individual sovereign States.
International Trade and Finance
It is a firm principle of the American Conservative Party and a powerful lesson of history that free trade stimulates economic growth and mitigates nations’ inclinations to fight each other. ￼Though we should strive to have as diverse an economy as possible here in the United States and hope that most of our needs can be met independently and efficiently, we respect and embrace the opportunities of U.S. corporations to outsource what they must in order to keep the costs of their finished goods or services competitive for American (or any) consumers.
Besides identifying and mitigating risks from dangerous materials such as weapons, tainted food, or toxic products, the Government has little position to tell our companies what they can and cannot buy. Efforts to do so not only violate fundamental property and contract rights, but predictably result in raising the costs and reducing the quality of life for American families. The United States has remained a competitive and powerful economic force in the world by being a shining example of free and fair trade.
The American Conservative Party believes that maintaining low barriers to entry of foreign investments in the U.S. is of paramount importance. This includes elimination of burdensome taxes and regulations, as well as expecting our trading partners to reciprocate these free trade policies. We should have no qualms with our trading partners’ being competitive with their labor costs, and believe the United States should only pursue trade restrictions when other Governments are complicit in intellectual property theft, “dumping” of unsafe products, currency manipulation, or other blatant violations of free and fair trade.
Currency and Federal Reserve
When Congress established the Fed in 1913, it gave it a dual mandate: high employment and price stability. In its nearly 100-year history, the Fed has rarely achieved both objectives. When it has, it has done so using a “rule-based” approach, which–in lieu of trying to buttress the flawed fiscal policies of feckless politicians, and a fickle stock market focused on short term gains–establishes a simple calculation for determining rates based on inflation and GDP.
Since 2004, by focusing on the short- term, the members of the Fed neglect the longer-term and even medium-term consequences of their actions. We applaud the efforts by some members of Congress to begin to hold the Fed accountable through audit and transparency efforts, but it is not enough. We believe that since the Fed can do very little to positively change the near-term, but efforts to do so can have lasting damage in the long-term, the mandate of employment–given its short-term nature–should be dropped and the Fed should instead only concentrate on the long-term stability of the currency. At times like the present, a “rule-based” approach to reserve rates helps the Fed to recognize that current problems are mainly the result of mistaken government policies that create massive uncertainty.
Encouraging Economic Growth
The individual choices of 350 million consumers and businesses impose a very effective form of self- regulation and encourage a vibrant economy. Economic growth is best served by allowing those billions of decisions to occur without the over-reaching hand of government regulation and manipulation. No individual or group of individuals can hope to guide or manage our economy and no authority has ever been granted to the Federal Government to try. We believe a stable currency, low barriers to entry into the marketplace, responsible regulation which enforces laws against fraud and breach of contract, along with a low tax burden and “right-to-work” labor laws are the best formula available to ensure a growing and productive economy.
We believe that education is a shining example of where the Federal Government has grossly overreached its authority. Education is critical to preserving an engaged and informed electorate, and the educational systems should be dynamic, relevant, and effective at preparing students for the workforce and to be informed and engaged citizens. Historically, education has been managed at the State and Local levels, and we believe this is appropriate.
We note that the recent emergence of homeschooling and online education; and the use of the Internet as an educational resource have dramatically changed the nature of education. Now more than ever, there is no need for centralized management of education. Only through the pursuit of hundreds of local and state experiments in adopting new techniques, and in liberalization of a governmental monopoly, will the American educational system begin again to truly support the needs of the American Dream.
Healthcare is another area in which the Federal Government should be much less involved. Clearly, it is beneficial and constitutional for a federal agency to regulate interstate commerce in medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and to limit interstate spread of infectious diseases. However, there is a decades- long train of abuses of the Federal role in health and “human services.” Not only are these overreaches a far cry from Constitutional, they currently encourage States to be dependent on Federal aid and thus coerced by the Federal Government to pursue policies which would be unconstitutional for the Federal Government to pursue directly. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is only the latest, and most brazen of examples of overreaches in need of repeal.
The Federal Government has no authority to be involved in permanent–or even temporary–housing of American citizens; therefore, there is no purpose for the existence of a Department of Housing and Urban Development. Beyond support for short-term disaster recovery and support of State Governments’ efforts to prevent loss of life in a crisis, there can be no further Federal role in sheltering citizens. This is not a position which seeks to minimize the importance of helping families get back on their feet after unexpected chaos, but one which acknowledges that importance. No disaster or regional emergency–man-made or otherwise–can license long-term dependence on Federal Government. States should manage these recoveries through property owners, the insurance instruments which protect them, and private charity efforts.
Private industry and the free market should be relied upon to the fullest extent possible in providing for the transportation needs of the country. The Federal Government’s role in the national transportation system cannot involve subsidizing modes of transportation that are not practical or cost effective. Where the Federal Government’s authorities do reach (interstate commerce, especially involving travel between States within economic centers), its role should be restricted to mediating the relationships between and among the States and to minimize barriers to interstate commerce.
Social and Family Issues
Marriage is a fundamental institution that creates and cements the family relationship and it should be encouraged and revered. Sacraments are the purview of their appropriate religions and there is no authority, power or reason for the Federal Government to suggest, dictate or demand any religion act contrary to its own beliefs, as long as the exercise of those beliefs do not infringe on the rights of others.
As marriage is a State issue, it should not be legislated in any way at the Federal level, and strict consideration should be addressed before States enact laws that interfere in the individual right to enter into contracts legally, or seek to redefine institutions that go beyond a government’s ability to define.
Since murder statutes, self defense laws, inheritance, along with any number of other laws involving child-bearing are decided and enforced at the State level, we believe that decisions on abortion restrictions should also be made at the State and Local level.
In general, we reject the practice of using Government powers for social engineering, and we uphold the principle that the individual is sovereign; where social conduct involves personal choices, the People are best served when those choices are embraced and defended at the family and community level.
POLICY DETAILS AND OMISSIONS
The above should give the reader a foundation of what the ACP stands for. We believe the policy positions which we shall pursue over the coming months and years can be logically derived from the above principled platform planks. Any lack of detail on a particular policy prescription or omission of a particular issue, should not be construed as lack of interest in that topic.
We hope the reader will keep in mind a few things regarding our Platform and the American Conservative Party’s future policy efforts:
First, that limited and enumerated government is not easy, and it involves taking a principled stand, even when that stand may make us uncomfortable. It involves saying “No” when saying “Yes” is undoubtedly the popular thing, and it involves taking a principle to its logical conclusion and knowing that rule of law and preservation of our Republic must take precedence over good feelings and popularity.
Second, that a political party must concern itself with more than elections. It must be engaged in the dissemination of clear ideas–based on thousands of years of deliberate and productive thought on human liberty–to a body-politic which simply will not withstand another generation of “lesser of two evils” politics. We must ensure that our current elected officials take seriously their oaths and responsibilities and that voters take seriously the responsibility to replace those who violate those oaths.
Lastly, that this is not an exercise or an intellectual exploration of what could be or might be, but it is the beginning commentary on what must be. Though the individual policies and intricate details, the bills proposed, supported, and opposed, might follow slightly different paths; and though there may be disagreements on the precise approach to every issue; there is one unavoidable truth: that our Republic must be restored, the Republican Party and Democratic Party are definitively incapable of restoring it; and we believe this is the best path to finding a way to save it.
We hope you will join our effort. The first step is to JOIN HERE.
–The American Conservative Party Board of Directors, February 2013