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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Conservatism: Many Principles, One Philosophy

The common view of conservatism as two, distinct "economic" and "social" brands of conservatism is mistaken. This nevertheless seems to be the default understanding of conservatism, so it is common to hear those who accept this analysis claim that conservatism has a fractured identity. They rightly observe that conservatism would be incoherent if it favored, as they claim, liberty in economic matters but government intervention in "social" matters. However, theirs is not a proper description of conservatism.

It may be useful to think of conservatives as broken into two "conservative constituencies," as Reagan recommended, and it might be argued that those presently are accurate descriptions of the characteristics of these constituencies. However, we should not confuse conservatism with today's defective popular expression of conservatism. Even if it has been misunderstood by some conservatives, the conservative philosophy survives -- and it is not confounded by such an inexplicable split.

Conservatism integrates and reconciles between five and eight (depending on how they are designated) great conservative themes. To those who know conservatism best, this is the one, true conservatism with which they are familiar -- one philosophy with many principles. It is also the conservatism of the Twelve Points. This conservatism is not yet (or "again," arguably) conscious as a political force, but it draws together a well-developed understanding of liberty and justice, respect and passion for the United States Constitution and the rule of law, an understanding of and a desire to protect and revive economic freedom, an understanding of the dangers of "big government" (which compound as government expands), prudence (or "caution") and a particular unwillingness to abandon our fortunate heritage as Americans: the institutions and traditions of liberty. It also includes "Peace Through [Many Forms Of] Strength" and emphasis on the individual -- including the need to preserve individual responsibility and voluntary association.

A person who believes in one of these conservative principles is not only the natural ally of people who believe in others -- his own philosophy would be better and more complete if he would learn and integrate the other principles into his thinking.

It may be true, as the conventional wisdom holds, that there are now a number of "conservatives" who make senseless categorical exceptions to our principle of individual freedom. It may also be true that their interest in our other principles is lacking. If so, however, there is a fuller, better conservatism waiting to be discovered by them -- or offered to them, if we use the Twelve Points well.