Today, authoritarianism is on the rise as more and more people reject the distinctive creed that made America great: that individual liberty is essential to the moral and physical strength of the nation.
In order to ensure that America’s best days are ahead, the Goldwater Institute this month joined more than 100 signatories from pro-liberty organizations around the country in affirming the following principles:
- Liberty. Among Americans’ most fundamental rights is the right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force: a right that, in turn, derives from the inseparability of free will from what it means to be human. Liberty is indivisible, and political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom.
- The pursuit of happiness. Most individuals are happiest in loving families, and within stable and prosperous communities in which parents are free to engage in meaningful work, and to raise and educate their children according to their values.
- The foundation of prosperity. The free enterprise system is the foundation of prosperity. Americans can only prosper in an economy in which they can afford the basics of everyday life: food, shelter, health care, and energy. A corrosive combination of government intervention and private cronyism is making these basics unaffordable to many Americans. We commit to reducing the cost of living through competitive markets, greater individual choice, and free trade with free people, while upholding the rule of law, freedom of contract, and freedom of association.
- Full faith and credit. The skyrocketing federal debt—which now exceeds the annual economic output of the United States—is an existential threat to the future prosperity, liberty, and happiness of Americans. We commit to building a constructive reform agenda that can restore America’s fiscal sustainability, ensuring that future generations inherit a more prosperous and secure nation than the one we now inhabit.
- A nation of laws, not men. Equality under the law is a foundational principle of American liberty. Unfortunately, today this principle is under attack from those who believe that the rule of law does not apply to them. One manifestation of this problem is the explosion of unaccountable and unelected regulators who routinely exceed their statutory authority and abridge Americans’ constitutional rights. The President should only nominate policymakers and judges who are committed to upholding these rights.
- Americans by choice. Immigration is a principal driver of American prosperity and achievement. America is exceptional because anyone—from any corner of the earth—can seek to live in America and become an American. Nearly all American citizens descend from someone who came here from somewhere else, and we must treat all citizens equally under the law. To this end, the United States, as a sovereign nation, has the right to secure its borders and design a rational immigration policy—built on the rule of law—that advances the interests and values of American citizens.
- Out of many, one. The best way to unify a large and diverse nation like the United States is to transfer as many public policy choices as possible to families and communities. Much of the discord in America today comes from the fact that too many decisions are made for us by centralized authorities. The Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for granting government the just authority to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power.
- America’s promissory note. Martin Luther King, Jr. described the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as containing “magnificent words…a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” Prior to 1964, however, slavery and segregation were enforced by state governments and, in many cases, by the federal government. Many who descend from victims of this system now face economic and personal hurdles that are the direct result of this legacy. We commit to expanding opportunity for those who face challenges due to past government restrictions on individual and economic freedom. We adamantly oppose racial discrimination in all its forms, either against or for any person or group of people.
- The shining city on a hill. American foreign policy must be judged by one criterion above all: its service to the just interests of the United States. Americans are safest and freest in a peaceful world, led by the United States, in which other nations uphold individual liberty and the sovereignty of their neighbors.
- Freedom of conscience. Essential to a free society is the freedom to say and think what one believes to be true. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, federal and state governments have a legal obligation to uphold and protect these freedoms. Private institutions have a moral obligation to do the same.
Read the full “Freedom Conservatism” statement here.