From Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative, we all came to understand that the conservative is “not too proud to learn from the great minds of the past.”
In that same spirit – and from our dismayed observation of the present disarray, disagreement and, often, disagreeability on the right – Right Way conservatives have come to understand ourselves as conservatives who know what we believe but don’t believe we know everything.
And we have come to believe, further, that we can also learn from others, even sometimes learn from those with whom we disagree.
The same Barry Goldwater who inspired a conservative political renaissance in the last century counted as a friend the man he hoped to challenge for the presidency in 1964. He intended not only to debate John Kennedy, vigorously, in that campaign but also to travel with him, congenially, to some of their campaign venues.
Like him, we prefer to see our political opponents not as enemies but as adversaries, and to envision our politics not as warfare but as a contest of ideas. That is, we see our conservatism not as a rigid ideology that knows all the answers but as a political philosophy that tries to know, and ask – and answer – all the right questions, such as:
- What is the proper role of government, what are its proper limits and how can those limits be properly – and effectively – re-imposed ?
- What is government’s proper scope and size?
- What is the proper relationship of free individuals in a free society to the government – and to each other?
Right Way is, in short, an alliance of conservatives who seek achievable solutions.
Right Way also seeks less acrimony and more seriousness in our political debates and we believe that our politics would serve our Republic better if it focused less on finding fault and assigning blame and more on offering solutions and finding common ground.
In this time of widespread political mistrust and confusion, there is disagreement even over what it means to be a conservative – even among conservatives. There are many voices claiming to be ‘the voice of conservatism.’ And many of these offer outrage in place of ideas and anger instead of clear thinking. As has been said, some seem to think that the louder they proclaim their outrage, the more conservative they are.
We believe, nonetheless, that despite contemporary appearances, there is common ground to be found politically in America but regret that presently, and tragically, so few appear to be looking for it.
Right Way conservatives believe politics at its best is about ideas and, accordingly, we feel obliged to offer some of our own. This we will do with the publication of occasional papers on important policy issues and proposals and, perhaps the sponsorship of occasional events to highlight our thinking on them.
And, by the way, we also believe that even in challenging times such as these, it is possible for conservatism to wear a smile.