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I decided to put out an article I wrote when the whole “don’t ask don’t tell” debate was going on in the US in may last year. I originally (unsuccessfully) tried to get it published in an American magazine, and forgot about it.

Since a lot of my friends “over there” have asked me to write something in English, I thought I’d put it out here, although the article probably isn’t that interesting now that the policy has been repealed.

However I still think the debate discloses some pretty interesting inconsistencies within a movement that on one hand consider themselves the most vehement defenders of liberty and freedom, and on the other consider themselves legitimate moral judges of a persons private lovelife.

So heres a short piece I originally wrote in may, 2010, comparing todays republicans to the days of Barry Goldwater looking at it with a european conservative viewpoint.

Here’s the article:

Leave the preaching to the priests:

(feel free to publish or quote this article anywhere you like)

There is every reason to worry when the terms moral and immoral become consistent with the terms legal and illegal. Different groups, societies, and individuals will always have different opinions on what is deemed moral or immoral. Therefore society must have defined rules for right and wrong irrespective of what moral grounds lawmakers base their life upon.

The Republican party today, once a beacon of freedom in the days of Barry Goldwater, seems to suffer from this confusion, lacking the capability of separating their own moral guidance in life, and their legitimate basis for forcing them upon everyone else.

I write this as a young conservative politician in Norway, but with close emotional bonds towards the United States of America. Growing up as a dual citizen, with an American mother, and family relations in Texas I have always found it my duty to follow the American political climate as closely as possible.

The ever growing combination in the GOP and American conservative movements, where good conservative notions of sensible anti-statism and family values are being mixed up with pure intolerant moralism, is quite appalling from a Norwegian conservative viewpoint.

Scandinavia is, in some ways, what conservatives in the US are warning others about, and in a lot of aspects they’re right. Government is way too big. Business regulations and high taxes prevent many from releasing their feasible potential. Norway even has a fortune tax, making people pay additional taxes based on their amount of savings or investments with already taxed income if it exceeds a certain (pretty low) amount. This again results in many small businesses that end up paying more taxes then their total surplus.

These are policies that I, as a conservative, oppose with every fiber of my being, but my understanding of conservatism also includes a deep repugnance towards people who try to dictate their moral beliefs on everyone else. There was a time when a majority of the Republican Party would agree.

When Barry Goldwater wrote «The Conscience of a Conservative» he described the conservative politician as one who «looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order». I would add that conservatism also bears within it a fundamental understanding of mans insufficiency in planning history, the importance of some institutions, and the notion that society gets its wisdom from the people and not the other way around. With this in mind, todays GOP has drifted so far away from the days of Barry Goldwater.

With tension between North Korea and South Korea reaching critical levels, and allied forces facing huge challenges in Afghanistan, many republican members of congress seem more occupied with the «fear» of American male soldiers being allowed to openly admit that they kiss men instead of woman.

Sen. John McCain, whom I voted for in 2008 despite his stance on these issues, recently said that he was «deeply disappointed» by Robert Gates’ remarks in testimony before the Senate Armed Services, where he said he fully supports the presidents decision on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell”. McCain said the current policy is «imperfect but effective,» at a time when the nation is engaged in two wars.

Perhaps John McCain should go back and read the words of ‘Mr. Conservative’, who summed up this foolish matter pretty accurately: “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” You should think that is the most important thing when our proud nation is engaged in two wars.

Even within the TEA-party movement – the most vehement advocates in America today for liberty and limited government on just about every domestic matter – we find these – eager to be – moral judges. Even Ron Paul, who proudly and powerfully promotes that ‘freedom is the answer’ on approximately every subject, just recently changed his mind on «don’t ask don’t tell».

Sarah Palin, now touring the nation with hear heartful endorsement of the TEA-party movement, firing up rallies carrying a message of freedom and self-government, has such a big problem with the idea that men and woman should be ensured the lawful right to call a person of the same sex their husband or wife, that she even wants a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Clearly, the value of self-made men and woman, according to Sarah Palin, only apply when they agree with her moral guidelines. How consistent.

It’s pretty ironic how the same republicans that quickly wave banners warning us about the nanny state whenever there’s talk of government regulation on health or the economy, think it’s perfectly right to deny two grown individuals of the same sex the right to formally declare their love for each other. I find it hard to understand how the same people that understandably tell the government to keep out of their pockets and stay out of their family matters, find it perfectly sensible to try and make peoples personal religious beliefs a campaign issue. Isn’t the whole point of religion finding some kind of spiritual comfort and guidance in your life beyond earthly comprehension?

In that case you should think that ones trust in his or her maker is considerably limited if you find it so vital that the president shares your exact religious beliefs.

I hope one day we’ll see a conservative frontrunner for president, be it strongly religious for all I care, who manages to combine good old fiscal pragmatism and economic freedom with personal liberty and trust in every citizen regardless of them being gay or straight, and no matter if -or to whom they say their prayers at night. A president who talks about family values with the meaning of trusting families in figuring out for themselves how they want to organize their lives without the state figuring as a moral judge.

A president who leaves spiritual guidance too church-communities, and chooses to concentrate his leadership on the people here on earth, where his decisions will be measured by the results in this life. That would be showing some real leadership.

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