The Twelve Points are a statement of conservative principles, objectives, philosophy, and additional guiding considerations, composed by Karl Born, a young Indianapolis writer and attorney, beginning in early 2008, completed on July 2, 2009. The idea for the Twelve Points, along with several of the points, came from the "Seven Points," an older statement of conservative principles, created by a group of young conservatives at Indiana University, in 2003: Grand Old Cause. 

The purpose of the Twelve Points is to serve as a delivery mechanism for distilled, concentrated conservative thinking, offered in order to return completeness and clarity to popular conservatism, to spread knowledge of the true principles of conservatism throughout the conservative community, and to focus and promote agreement among conservatives. 

Over the past two decades, the conservative movement has lost its uniting sense of direction, which has rendered it confused, frustrated, and impotent. Certain crucial conservative principles and concepts have faded from our common memory and lost their rightful influence and, consequently, our fellow conservatives (including conservative leaders) too often can no longer be relied upon to understand them, to be committed to them, or to apply and advance them in a coherent way. No conservative should be satisfied with the results that this has produced in American public policy. 

The Twelve Points will help to solve this problem, this statement of conservative principles being an instrument by which we may frequently recur to these fundamental principles and keep points of conservative thought freshly in our minds, teach conservative thought to the newer and younger conservatives, and provide all conservatives with a means of together affirming that, yes, we still care about these conservative principles, and conservative principles still define this movement. 

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About, Long Version

If you were asked what conservatism is, what answer could you give that wouldn't be fundamentally at odds with the answer that a large number of other conservatives would have given? If you were asked to point to an authoritative, definitive statement of what conservatives stand for, where could you point?

Recently, popular conservatism has drifted, and conservatives have drifted apart. Conservatism itself, the philosophy, remains clear, but recent history has called into question what the conservative community at large understands conservatism to be -- what is popular conservatism? -- if there is any single, coherent, popular understanding of the word.

Conservatives lack an effective, prominent, and authoritative spokesman who convincingly articulates the conservative philosophy, and whose articulation of that philosophy might have helped to focus conservatives and their priorities. Conservatives also have no recent statement of conservative principles to which conservatives can point and around which conservatives can form a consensus, resulting in our present lack of a convincingly definitive (or deserving) expression of the present conservative agenda.

Further, though we do have inventive, enterprising conservative leaders among us, pitifully little of their recent intellectual contributions have reached the average conservative. Worse, ideas that had reached the average conservative in the past have been simplified and mutated until they were rendered patently false by the oversimplification.

Finally, political concerns -- both the selection of policy concerns to serve electoral goals and many conservatives' perceived need to defend the agenda of a Republican President and Congress -- have actively pulled conservatives in directions in which they would not otherwise likely have moved. Most often, this movement has been away from liberty, and it has not encouraged the kind of care, thoughtfulness, and candor that makes conservatism conservative. Those who did not abandon conservatism have been left behind, wondering how we allowed such a situation to come about, in which elected officials who are allegedly conservative not only fail to advance conservative reform, but actually implement policies that are starkly contrary to conservatism, and in which "conservative" personalities can win conservative support without demonstrating that they would do better.

The Twelve Points, as a step towards solving this problem, are not meant to be a policy program, a political platform, or a manifesto to sell conservatism to the public at large. (We need to reinforce our foundation before we build upon it.) The Twelve Points also are not meant to be used as a strict set of rules to be used to expel conservatives from the movement because they do not agree with these points completely. They would be unfit for these uses, since they were written to serve a different purpose.

Instead, the Twelve Points are intended to be a guide and a catalyst. If they were to win the acclaim of conservatives throughout the United States, Twelve Points will have provided conservatives with the chance to demonstrate, if true, that we still support the principles that first made us call ourselves "conservatives." More importantly, we will have affirmed those principles in such a level of definition that politicians could no longer win supporters by invoking the principles by name -- "Freedom," "the Constitution," or "Less Government," for example -- without committing themselves to the substance of those principles. (Not for more than one term, anyway.)

We would have the evidence we need in order to be able to confidently tell the command-oriented, intellectually anemic "conservatives," and those who spend most of their time obsessing over distractions, that conservatism does not belong to them. We will also have greater cause for confidence that those of us who claim to love liberty and the rule of law actually understand and have thought about their implications. With these boundaries, and with this foundation, we can then enter a bold, new stage in our journey to restore conservatism. We will push the movement, its spokesmen, and the politicians associated with it, along with the average American conservative, toward a destination where conservatism emphasizes a love for (and understanding of) liberty and is permeated by intellectual rigor and curiosity.

Rather than splitting the conservative movement, this will unite it. The principles discussed in the Twelve Points work best in concert, and most of them can be expected to appeal to most conservatives. With a renewed focus on universal conservative principles that have been temporarily neglected, conservatives may find themselves agreeing across factional lines, more deeply and more often.

Finally, the Twelve Points are intended to be used as a teaching tool and a memory aid on the topic of conservatism, providing a less direct yet indispensable form of guidance. Too few conservatives -- particularly new conservatives, who have not yet learned of the existence of high-quality sources on conservative philosophy -- adequately understand conservatism. If we, as conservatives, are satisfied to choose the right "side" and express concern with the right themes, never pausing to study and think about our principles and goals, our philosophical weakness will be reflected in our actions. It will impact policy debates, shape the tone and specific objectives of political action, and affect what "conservative" politicians believe we, as ordinary conservatives, will require (and tolerate) of them.

If we, as conservatives, cannot agree on vital, fundamental points of conservative principle, we will fail to rebuild the conservative movement -- creating, instead, a pointless alliance, fighting for the wrong policies and failing politically. We have, however, another option:

Adopt the Twelve Points.