Senator Mike Lee gave a spirited defense today of conservativism, arguing that it relied on community and was not, as President Barack Obama has frequently argued, an individualistic, non-communitarian political vision.
“The reason we fight for individual freedom is the strength, vitality, and value of the communities free individuals form,” Lee said at the Value Voters Summit.
“The alternative to big government is not small government,” he continued. “The alternative to big government is a thriving, flourishing nation of cooperative communities — where your success depends on your service.”
“Conservatism,” Lee stated, “has never been a vision of isolated loners.”
Unlike liberals, conservatives understand “that in America, freedom doesn’t mean ‘you’re on your own.’ Freedom means ‘we’re all in this together,’” he said. “The value we place on community is based on the value we place on the first and most important human community of them all: the family.”
Like Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who has been pushing the GOP this year to be for certain ideas rather than simply being viewed as the party opposing the Democrats’ big-goverment plans, Lee stressed Republicans must develop more policy solutions and ideas. “It is not enough for us simply to oppose liberals’ ideas,” Lee said. “We have to propose conservative ones.”
He also took aim at the Left’s rhetoric on inequality.
“From Wall Street to K Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, we find special interests increasingly exempted and insulated — by law — from the rigors of competition and the consequences of their own mistakes,” Lee said. “All of this points to what really is an inequality crisis in America today — a crisis not of unequal wealth or income, but unequal opportunity.”
Read his full speech here.