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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165 Sub-Points

I want to avoid any misunderstanding concerning the content of the Twelve Points.  The particular misunderstanding that I have in mind is a reasonable one, but I still think that those who do not yet understand my goal in writing the Twelve Points deserve to have that information brought to their attention.

The Twelve Points has/have layers upon layers of meaning built into the structure of the document, in addition to the words themselves.  (That's what happens when you spend a year and a half to write a 5-page document.)  The name "The Twelve Points" has understandably caused many people to believe that the twelve named points, as listed here, are the main ideas of this document.  That is not so.  It is true that the content is grouped into twelve categories, but as I wrote the Twelve Points, the document moved more and more away from expressing a formula of twelve larger concepts and in the direction of drawing as much attention as possible to the little details.  Most of the statements on conservatism that I saw circulated in 2009 focused on either those larger, master principles or on a proposed platform for use in the next election or two.  As I wrote the Twelve Points, though, I came to realize that it is in those details that the conservative movement shows the most confusion and faces the greatest dangers; it is in the understanding of those details that we have the greatest need for improvement.  It is easy for a candidate to claim to believe in general freedom, to support the free market, and to favor federalism and the Constitution (and the honest interpretation of it), for example.  From experience, we have found it to be a bit more difficult than that to decide what an alleged conservative understands those ideas to mean.  Does he understand the right to freedom to extend even to acts (or omissions) that he dislikes, provided that they do not intrude on the equal rights of others?  (Then, in interpreting that, how well can he tell the difference between a genuine right and a counterfeit right?)  Does his understanding of the Constitution actually bear some resemblence to its written content, or does he just view it as a philosophical repository for whatever he thinks is right?  Does he understand the free market well enough to recognize economic fallacies and confidently resist pressure and deception?  Does he recognize that for the most part, the constitutional rights of the accused are intended for the protection of the innocent, and that they can only protect the innocent if they are applied uniformly to the accused?  Isn't a conservative (in the sense that he or she identifies with the conservative "side," though not necessarily in the sense of actually knowing, understanding, and appreciating what it is that we believe ought to be "conserved," restored, and carefully improved) who really only has the "gist of it" unprepared to stand up for it?

As I recognized this, and as I collected and catalogued the best conservative ideas that could be stated in this format, I began to view the Twelve Points less as twelve distinct concepts and more as 165 sub-points of a single, coherent philosophy, organized into twelve larger themes.  As a result, it is a mistake to simply read the twelve bold-faced headings, ignoring the 165 sub-points that give them certainty and substance.  Using the Twelve Points, we can make these ideas common knowledge in the conservative community.  In the way that so many self-described conservatives now adopt the themes and slogans of the conservative movement, they will be able to adopt a greater portion of the conservative philosophy than is currently readily available to them.  Once this happens, we will gain not only from the reduction in the portion of conservatives who do not understand conservatism -- we will find also that we have gained the ability to organize around ideas more complex and meaningful than the sound bites now used, and we will better serve the philosophy of conservatism and the United States of America as a result of it.