It is an exciting time to be a young conservative in America!

International fears heighten as conflict brews in the Middle East, which is thirsty for revolution and Israeli blood. At home, the sluggish economy continues to lag under the weight of government regulation and taxation – stunting growth and smothering entrepreneurship. The national time bomb (sometimes referred to as the national debt) lingers over our heads and threatens to unleash its wrath in the form of higher interest rates or economic collapse. And religious liberty is under attack in the public arena. All the while, we are lectured to by media outlets and academic elites that all is well in the Middle East, Keynesian economics deserves one more chance, and that worship of magic sky gods has no intrinsic benefit to society and should be a practiced secretly in the privacy of one’s home—lest the little children become plagued with abstract principles of morality (You do care about the children, don’t you?).

21st century America has unfortunately adopted a fast-food style approach to political culture. We put labels on our philosophies like they are combos at McDonald’s. We put them up on the dollar menu for people to buy, making them cheap, inexpensive, and easily assessable. This is especially convenient since it requires little thought or contemplation. Then we eat the manufactured product that they tell us is actually food and then complain that it makes us fat. We might even sue!

Our fast-food combos, if you will, are the Democratic and Republican parties. Pick Combo #1 and you get it all: green energy, higher taxes, lots of new (illegal) friends, higher debt, and corruption. Pick Combo #2 and you get a strong military, economic subsidies, lower taxes, a border fence, higher debt and corruption. Furthermore, your advanced understanding of the dollar menu (the mainstream media) allows you to walk into the voting booth (McDonald’s) already prepared to order your candidate without even having to think! #1 or #2 –it’s that simple…until you realize that the corruption, dishonesty, and intellectual inconsistency of both combos make you sick to your stomach.

The days of old when meals were homemade and even homegrown are long gone. So, too, are the days when people reflected on their political philosophies to a deeper extent and cared about the substance of a candidate rather than the letter after his name. This is the essence of the new movement to restore liberty in America: homegrown conservatism.

Conservatism is not a political party or even an ideology. If you are looking for some philosophical block to put yourself in – and thus alleviate the struggle of developing original thoughts, positions, and ideas – you will not find it in conservatism.

Conservatism is a reflection on the human condition; it is the culmination of historical experience; and it is the effort to preserve things eternal, or as Russell Kirk calls them, “the permanent things.”

Conservatives understand human nature and its power to corrupt the divine – tainting the purity of the ideal. Conservatives seek to understand historical precedence alongside the successes and failures of past empires. Conservatives cling to ancient social institutions that unify the civil society on a spiritual and moral level. These characteristics come through diligence of thought, passion for truth, and respect for the divine. Truly, I say to you, despite (or perhaps because of) the hard work it takes to make homegrown food, it is infinitely tastier and healthier than cheap, fast-food political thought.

Conservatism is on the ascent in the political arena. People are beginning to break out of the mold established by political elites and the media establishment and are beginning to think independently. Young conservatives are increasingly becoming defectors of the liberal machine that we call academia. They are starting to flee from the single-minded, albeit oppressive nature, of campus intellectual life and are yearning to explore new ideas, authors, and moral considerations.

As I mentioned before, liberty is under attack from nearly every angle. Personal responsibility has been replaced with entitlement, crony-capitalism, and nanny state socialism, religious liberty with secular orthodoxy, academic diversity with intellectual conformity, and homegrown philosophy with fast-food politics.  It’s time to put a stop to that.

Alan Groves // Hillsdale College // @AlanGroves2