A State of the Union Response: The War on Poverty versus the War on Liberty

by Brandon James Smith

 Conservatism is fundamentally and unyieldingly at war with poverty and disorder. At its core, conservatism seeks not just to alleviate these social problems, but to wage an aggressive war against them. President Obama, in his State of the Union address, has instead declared a war on liberty, the foundation of our economic future and civil society.

Obama's State of the UnionThe President had the audacity to call for free market solutions to so called climate change in one breath, and with his next call for greater government subsidies. He talks about building ladders for the disadvantaged to climb up to the middle class and beyond, but then traps children in failing urban schools, buries individuals in tens of thousands of regulations, and allows increases to the payroll tax on nearly every American. Instead of addressing the Republican plan to save Medicare, the President put politics first and stands idly by while millions face the threat losing their safety net.

As Senator Rubio stated, “more government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It will hold you back.” One need only look to failing schools, the near bankrupt post office or the local DMV to verify the veracity of this statement. More to the point, let us not forget that the housing crisis which helped lead us into our current financial crisis was a result of government regulation and dangerous, if not good-hearted, public policies.

Conservatism stands for the principles of individual liberty, the rule of law, and freedom. It is best described as the fight for ordered liberty. These two pillars of free society, liberty and order, are inextricably intertwined with one another.

Progressive ideology has successfully created a myth that Republicans are only in favor of the super wealthy, and are against everyone else.  Professor Patrick Garry suggest that this myth, entrenched since the 1930s, has made Republicans fearful of even attempting to openly challenging it.

Enough is enough.

Nothing has done more to fight the evil of abject poverty and lift people out of its deadly grip than free market capitalism and the rule of law. Even worse, progressive and liberal policies do more to entrench the poor in failing schools, crime-ridden neighborhoods, and leave millions dependant on the “benevolence” of the federal government.

Conservatism, then, is the advancement of principles that reject injustice, protects the oppressed, and eliminates the causes of poverty. The conservative position embraces the truth that it is not the state that accomplishes this goal; rather, it is the free nature of society, the flourishing of religious and philosophical ideas, the advancement and protection of families, and the advancement of civil society.

Conservatives ought to start making the moral case for free enterprise, religious freedom, and fiscal conservatism.  To do any less only risks greater harm to those who are already suffering under the current administration’s policies.

Simply put, conservatives have faith in you, your family, your friends, and your community to know what’s best for your future rather than a government policy. Conservatism believes that the most inhumane response to human suffering is to relegate your neighbor to a faceless government agency.

Conservatism, at its core, is engaged in a great battle against poverty, disorder, and the resulting damages. President Obama has instead taken aim at the foundations of our free society. The President’s progressive second term agenda threatens economic, religious, and individual liberty, thus victimizing those he claims to protect.


Brandon James Smith is a 27 year old lawyer living and working in Washington DC. You can follow him @Brandon_J_Smith.

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