In my pursuit of employment, I have applied to Fall internships with both the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage application required a few short responses limited to 250 words. I thought my blog's readers might be interested in the content as it reveals a little about myself. Of course, my word limit as well as my intent to impress potential employers restricted my answers, but here it is nonetheless.
1. Explain your choice of ideology.
Though I have put ‘libertarian’ as my ideology, I am a true conservative in the vein of Ron Paul and a strict constitutionalist who opposes abortion, high taxes, unauthorized spending, big government, and any other type of infringement on our individual liberties. Therefore, many just call me a true conservative as I am a classical liberal who believes in the values held by our Founders and embodied in our Constitution, especially the values expressed by Thomas Jefferson. It is through this constitutional lens that I view the issues, and it is my Christian worldview and the Bible which guides my decisions.
I believe that for an individual to maximize his freedom, one must also guard against the infringements on another’s liberty. At times this may not create the desired short-term result, but, as Jefferson put it, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”
Therefore, I am a conservative constitutionalist, who as Reagan, “believe[s] the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Moreover, what I seek to conserve are the values found in our constitution, which many call libertarian. This does not mean I find total kinship with many who would call themselves libertarians (I am pro-life, pro-rule of law, anti-illegal immigration, etc.). But needless to say, I have much more in common with people like Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan than I do with many calling themselves ‘conservative’ today—like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
2. What elected or non-elected political leaders do you admire and why?
Among the living, I most admire Rep. Ron Paul. He never hesitates to take a strong ideological position and unwaveringly defends the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, he holds to the same moral values as myself as a follower of Christ.
Conservative on both social and economic issues, Dr. Paul presents us with a level of consistency that is hard to come by in the modern political environment. Consistency is a key for me as one’s consistency proves the value of his position. If one acts liberal on one issue and conservative on another, he is merely picking and choosing based on either a political chess match or a shallow preference, not based on a committed ideological framework. If we are to stand for a worldview, a political ideology, let us stand firmly and consistently.
Another reason I admire Dr. Paul, is based on my love for the ideas of Thomas Jefferson and those like him. Ron Paul fights for individual rights and liberty, private property, and freedom of conscience just like our Founders, and for this I cannot help but be filled with admiration.
When I first came in contact with the Constitution, I knew that I wanted to fight for it. Dr. Paul has taken on this fight, and he has never looked back.
3. What single public policy issue would you most want to affect and why?
Most of all, I would fight to change abortion policy in our nation. I hate the size and scope of government. I find most of the ways Washington acts unconstitutional and harmful to society. Our domestic policy in general (not to exclude our foreign policy) is horrid. But I would rather live with the hardship placed upon us by an over-reaching government than to have a human being never given the chance to live at all. Without life there can be no liberty, and country based on freedom cannot senselessly murder unborn human beings.
More than a moral issue, abortion is a constitutional issue. The Fourteenth Amendment promises life to all persons. Our current abortion policy fails in that regard.
4. Name the book that has most significantly shaped your political philosophy, and please explain its influence on your thinking.
The Bible has most influenced my political thought as it affects all aspects of my life: word, thought, and deed.
My love for the Constitution stems from a belief that it creates a society best suited to individual pursuit. One can pursue wealth, freedom, solitude, etc., but he can also pursue God and worship freely. When looking back to the ratification process of the Constitution, we see ministers like Isaac Backus calling for the new Constitution and its values, not because it was Scripture but because it best allows us to pursue the mandates of Scripture. Moreover, I see much compatibility with classical liberalism and Biblical teaching. The Bible teaches freedom of conscience, individual responsibility, private property, and many of the other values we hold dear.
Moreover, one need only look to the influence of the Protestant Reformation, Puritanism, and classic Evangelicalism to find a source of much of the enlightenment political thought that went into our nation’s formation.
Reading former Ron Paul chief of staff John Robbins Freedom and Capitalism was of much support to me, showing how Biblical thought carried to action was compatible with classic liberalism. For example, we see in the Bible the Hebrew Republic craving a kingship “like the nations” and the perils it brought. Therefore, I am weary of big government. Additionally, we see mandates for one to act responsibly for oneself and to depend on God and his fellow man, not the government, for help. So I do not support any type of welfare system.
I have been influenced by a number of works and authors. I love Hayek and his Road to Serfdom, and the writings of Jefferson are never far from my mind. I also read a lot constitutional theory, including your very own Heritage Guide to the Constitution. But no matter what work I read, at the end of the day, it is read through the scope of a Biblical worldview. Perhaps, the Bible did not directly establish every position that I have taken politically, but every position I take is thoroughly weighed against Scripture.