04/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Conservative Manifesto

In an effort to unite under a single banner conservatives have incongruously splintered into three fractious efforts to create a single manifesto that will capture the essence of conservative thought. The recently-drafted Mount Vernon Statement reflects the philosophy of mainstream conservatives like Ed Meese, former Attorney General under President Reagan; Newt Gingrich seeks a new Contract for America to build on his original contract in 1994; and CPAC attendees organized by tea party enthusiasts are penning a Contract From America.

These disparate efforts to create a single document that can unify the conservative movement have caused some confusion, so I would like to offer my own version of a manifesto that might bring together the three drafts. The 1994 Contract for America is a good starting point.


Original commitment:
A $500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief.

New contract:
Promote the idea that Obama's proposal for capital gains taxes to put the level back to what we saw under Clinton is radical, bordering on socialistic. Accuse Democrats of raising taxes even as they lower them. Incite protestors to rage against tax hikes and government spending to obscure the fact that President Obama cut taxes for 95% of American families. As we hold Ronald Reagan to be a model of fiscal restraint, repeat his tax policies: cut taxes such that public debt more than triples (in Reagan's time going from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion); then without admitting the failure of massive tax cuts (proving the projected revenue from such a cut wildly optimistic) institute the largest tax increase in U.S. history, as Reagan did in 1982 (the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year and the Highway Revenue Act raised the gasoline tax by another $3.3 billion); then raise taxes in each subsequent year, as Regan did in his proposed budget in 1983 (raising the Social Security tax rate), in 1984 (raising taxes an additional $18 billion per year or a whopping 0.4 percent of GDP), and again in 1985 under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Ignore this history, however, and at all times, advocate for tax cuts as a means of balancing the budget.

Fiscal Responsibility

Original commitment:
A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.

New contract:
Proudly claim a commitment to a balanced budget, living within our means, and running the government like a business, then ignore that completely to accumulate the largest debts and deficits in our history (as did George W. Bush); as debts mount under our Republican leadership, quietly bury our mantra that we are "living off the backs of our grandchildren," but bring the phrase back into use when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office. As did Reagan, promise the American people that Republicans can balance the budget, reduce taxes, and increase military spending, knowing that the three cannot possibly be simultaneously achieved. Pander to constituents no matter the cost, as we did in passing the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage plan without paying for the program, adding $800 billion over 10 years to a debt already at record highs, while maintaining the myth of a conservative commitment to balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility. Vote against the stimulus package as a form of socialism, and then claim credit for spending stimulus money when appropriate. Claim as a founding principle the idea that "government is the problem, not the solution" but then use government to solve the problems created by the failure of our fiscal policies and hearty embrace of deregulation. We hold the $800 billion TARP funds to bail out Wall Street as exemplary. We believe strongly in the principle of privatizing gain and socializing loss. We support corporate welfare. Rail against wasteful government spending while inserting as many earmarks as possible to fund local projects helpful in getting reelected.

National Security

Original commitment:
No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.

New contract:
Build on our record of starting two wars, one on false pretense; proudly note that we did not pay for the $1 trillion cost of these engagements, creating record debts and deficits, but claim at the same time fidelity to the idea of smaller government and fiscal responsibility; redefine torture as enhanced interrogation to avoid prosecution as war criminals (we proudly note that Dick Cheney told Jonathan Karl on ABC's 'This Week' that he used his position within the National Security Council to advocate for the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques); spy illegally on American citizens while claiming loyalty to the Constitution; arrest American citizens on U.S. soil, then deny them access to lawyers and family, and deprive them of their right to habeas corpus under the guise of protecting our personal freedoms. Accuse Democrats of being weak to obscure the fact that under Republican leadership the United States allowed Korea to go nuclear and Iran to gain significant momentum toward achieving nuclear status. Argue with a straight face on television that no terrorist attacks occurred under President Bush, and that no terrorists were prosecuted in civil courts.

The world has changed dramatically since 1994, so we need to add a few new provisions to the manifesto to reflect the challenges of our times.


New Contract:
Quietly promote the idea that only Republicans love America, and that any opposition to conservative ideas is evidence of waning patriotism. Simultaneously claim loyalty to the United States while promoting secession from the Union, following the brave lead of Texas Governor Rick Perry, without acknowledging the obvious paradox. Further work to undermine the Union we love by promoting the illegal nullification of federal laws that we find objectionable under the guise of patriotic fervor. Attack the integrity and honor of the Office of the President by questioning the current occupant's birthplace and citizenship knowing that neither is in question; diminish the office by shouting out during presidential speeches to joint sessions of Congress, and then use this unpatriotic behavior to raise funds for congressional campaigns focused on premise of patriotism. Claim we support the troops, but provide inadequate funding for their equipment and training, and then fail to provide for their proper medical care upon their return; deny veterans assistance for college, home loans and other programs from which World War II veterans benefited. But always claim we support the troops at all times, implying when possible that Democrats do not.

Prosecution of Terrorists

New Contract:
Promote the idea that Obama is weak on terrorism because he intends to prosecute terrorists in civil court, and to uphold the Constitution he swore to protect. Argue specifically that Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab were treated differently by Bush and Obama, respectively, knowing that such a claim is false, but nevertheless useful. Claim that prosecuting Umar in civil court is proof that Obama is caving to our enemies. Use former Vice President Cheney as a spokesperson to claim that Obama is undermining our national security by taking the exact same actions as did President Bush. Enlist former Speaker of the House Gingrich to claim falsely but repeatedly that Richard Reid is an American citizen as an explanation to why Reid was read his Miranda rights. Then be sure to deflect any questions about Jose Padilla, who is in fact an American citizen, but who was not read his Miranda rights; and subsequently ignore the obvious conclusion that being an American citizen is clearly not a criterion for reading a suspect his rights, so that even if Reid was American, and he is not, that alone would not explain why he was read his Miranda rights; or why reading Umar his rights is somehow different. Confuse this issue to the maximum extent possible because we are vulnerable to any reasonable scrutiny.

Energy and the Environment

New Contract:
Deny the reality of climate change; when data become overwhelmingly strong in support of the problem, claim that natural variation rather than human activity is causative. Deflect any criticism that we only know of this natural variation from the same scientists we dismiss when they tell us our climate is warming so that we are selecting what to believe based on our preconceived ideas of the conclusions. Every winter come out and question climate change whenever you see snow. Say the jury is still out whenever possible. Attack "cap and trade" as a hidden tax instead of an approach relying on market forces, and deny that the approach worked efficiently to significantly reduce acid-rain-causing sulphur from the atmosphere. Work to undermine any international agreements to regulate greenhouse gases. Sue the federal government to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases as pollutants. Deny that the next century will belong to the country that leads in green energy technologies, and use that logic as the basis to continue subsidizing fossil fuel use and blocking any funding for solar, wind and geothermal energy. Block all efforts to impose mandatory efficiency requirements on automobiles so that the United States lags Europe, China and Japan on fleet fuel efficiency. Promote nuclear energy without solving the problem of what to do with nuclear waste. Encourage off-shore drilling in the most ecologically sensitive areas.

Church and State

New Contract:
We revere the founding fathers, but these great men were wrong about separating Church and State. We are a Christian nation in spite of every effort our forefathers made to deny that reality. Use federal funds to support religious organizations. Use Churches to promote political candidates and legislative agendas while maintaining their tax-exempt status. Mandate religious classes in public school. Display the Ten Commandments on public property and in courtrooms. Deny candidates office if they do not pledge their belief in God. Offer an official prayer to Jesus at public events and to begin all legislative sessions.


New Contract:
Use any means necessary to introduce religion into our children's curriculum. Our goal must be to teach Intelligent Design in place of Evolution. Use public schools as a vehicle to teach the Bible, if necessary under the guise of literature. Instill in our children the idea that the United States was founded on Christian principles even if that means ignoring everything that our founding fathers fought to achieve. Eliminate all sex education from our schools, and instead provide pamphlets to children extolling the virtues of abstinence. We know from empirical evidence that this does not work, and that girls who take abstinence pledges have a higher rate of pregnancy and more cases of STDs compared to girls who do not, but we have a religious mandate to carry on nevertheless. Control the content of all textbooks to eliminate any reference to liberal ideas like climate change, avoid exposure to nudity in sculptures, and ensure that Republican icons like Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon are treated with proper respect. Any references to Watergate and the Iran Contra Affair must be deleted from all school books. React in horror if a Democratic president wishes to address our school children because "the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda." But praise Republican presidents for promoting our conservative principles in speeches televised nationally to all of our elementary school children.

This is our manifesto. These are the principles by which we will live. These are the actions and goals to which we are fully committed. We are patriots committed to America, even as we consider its dissolution. We will amass our nation's greatest debts and deficits while championing the principles of fiscal restraint and tax cuts. We will make this the Christian nation we are destined to be. We will sacrifice the environment on the altar of short-term economic growth, a false choice that we enthusiastically embrace. We will make America safe for conservatives everywhere in the real America; all others will have to adapt to our agenda and bow to our God-given right to lead.