Jonathan Krohn on Conservatism

I watched Jonathan Krohn on Huckabee last night. Krohn is a 14 year old who wrote Define Conservatism, and he recently wowed the Conservative Political Action Conference with his articulate two-minute speech. Although he is 14, he sounds like he’s 40!

I watched some You-Tube videos of him–his speech to C-PAC, interviews with Fox and CNN, etc., and I also took a look at his blog. He portrayed the government as hungry for power in one of his interviews, and his C-PAC speech championed the Constitution and individual liberty. In a blog article, he took a swipe at President Obama’s health care plan:

“Uh oh! Here it comes…Obama is going to expand government’s interference into your doctor’s office. Government will tell you what you can and cannot get at the doctor’s office. Obama, Dodd, Kennedy, Pelosi, Reid, and Biden, just a few of the people who will be out their telling you what you[r] healthcare benefits will be. President Obama has told us that he wants to boost the economy, but when he talks about universal healthcare all he is discussing is a government monopoly of the healthcare industry; meaning a loss of jobs and a major dent in the economy, not to mention policy commonly described as typical socialism. Because the government will monopolize the health industry, different aspects of good healthcare will become harder to afford, or at least worse in quality. So Americans, hold onto your health, because socialized medicine for all is on the way…”

I’m rethinking a lot of my political beliefs. I continue to be pro-life on the abortion issue, which is why I have a hard time switching to the Democratic Party. I also support Intelligent Design in public schools, school choice, gun rights, and homeschooler rights. I believe that the people have the prerogative to decide how society will define marriage, and that upholding the traditional definition does not undermine anybody’s rights, period. I think good old fashioned values like abstinence are things society should cherish, not undermine. So I guess that, in many respects, I’m a social conservative.

Fiscally speaking, I’m somewhat of a “dime-store New Dealer.” I believe in balanced budgets and tax cuts, which will hopefully stimulate the economy and increase revenue. But I can’t say that I’m against food stamps or heating assistance or Medicaid or unemployment benefits. I disagree with a conservative who once said that a school lunch program was the precursor to totalitarianism. So how do I reconcile that with my belief in balanced budgets? Easy! There’s a lot of pork and inefficiency that the government can cut out of its budget–corporate welfare, for instance, or earmarks, or Medicare money for insurance companies and the prescription drug industry. It doesn’t have to go after food stamps!

While Krohn views government as an antagonist to liberty, I think that the private sector can be that, too. Barry Goldwater was not a racist, for he helped to integrate the Arizona National Guard. But he opposed government orders for desegregation because he believed that the government had no right to tell people with whom they should associate. Minorities were not particularly free under that kind of system, for they were deprived of the freedoms and opportunities that white people enjoyed. Does “government keep out” always mean freedom?

Let’s look at what Krohn says about health care. He doesn’t want liberal Democrats to tell people what their benefits would be. But we’re not exactly peachy under our current system, in which HMOs and insurance companies tell people what health care they can receive. I guess those with a lot of money can make their own choices, but others are at the mercy of their insurance companies. “Hold on to your health”? Under our current system, a lot of Americans are afraid to get sick because it’s too costly to do so!

I don’t want to dismiss what Krohn is saying, however, since government funding does mean government power. When people are at the mercy of the government, then government can get its way by threatening to cut off funds. That’s why Hillsdale College refuses to accept any government money: it doesn’t want the feds telling it how to do things! So conservatives and libertarians have a point. I’m just saying that the private sector can be pretty oppressive and power hungry itself, and that’s why there are liberals!

Another point I want to make is that conservatives are not always libertarian or committed to the Constitution. The ACLU is about as absolutist as you can get on the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, etc. (Well, maybe not the Second!) Yet, many conservatives are perfectly willing for the government to ban pornography, or for cops to use evidence that they obtained through unconstitutional searches. Maybe conservatives are right on these issues, but which side is more committed to the Bill of Rights?

One thing I can say as I muddle through my development of a political philosophy: The conservative movement has a lot of cool people! If there were baseball cards for political celebrities, I’d prefer a Jonathan Krohn or a Sarah Palin card to a Joe Biden one any day of the week!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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