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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Confidence That They Understand Conservative Principles, Or Have A Plan For Advancing Them

Though last November's election was unusually important, too much faith was placed in the likelihood that voters' anger, without greater organization or refinement of their sentiment into a plan or intelligible (and reasonably complete) set of principles, would naturally work to change the course of American governance for the better. I doubted this, because experience has shown us that many well-meaning, instinctively conservative people who call themselves "conservative" do not, in fact, have a firm grasp of the conservative philosophy, or of other important, related matters that affect the success and desirability of any concrete attempt to implement it. Additionally, it has not always been clear that those who actually do understand and believe in this philosophy have any sort of long-term plan for addressing the problems in government that we have had for decades, other than to continue to attempt to win elections and hope for the best.

Last year, our method for selecting candidates for Congress was not different than it had been in the past. I do not believe that there was any change in whatever arrangements we have for teaching conservatism to those who do not yet quite understand it -- the adoption of the Mount Vernon Statement would have been a great opportunity to do this, as a major, united act of prominent conservatives, but those behind the Mount Vernon Statement instead chose to focus on energizing the "base" and on uniting the three allegedly opposing conservative factions, rather than using the power of well-communicated ideas to draw the conservatives of each faction into actual philosophical harmony.

Ultimately, a landslide election took place, and it is certainly good for this country that this did happen. However, it is not too late to avoid reading too much into these results, and thereby wasting an opportunity as historic as the present one (for conservatives) -- if we recognize what November 2010 left undone, we can begin to address some of the problems that we ought to have faced last year. After all, over this past decade, it became clear that congressional Republicans either had no real desire to cut spending or did not know what they wanted to cut. Even though many "Tea Party" candidates were elected, last year, do we have any evidence, yet, that the new Republicans actually have an answer to the question: if you were in control of the government, then what, specifically, would you actually cut? There are many other questions that we could also ask -- questions to which we received disappointing answers over this past decade, from their predecessors.

A statement of conservative principles may or may not be the best way to spread the conservative philosophy, in all its fullness, throughout the conservative community, or to bring some intelligible sense of a strategy to the movement. (If so, the Twelve Points are the best statement of conservative principles around, and ought to be adopted.) However, it is up to those of us who recognize what needs to be done to consult with each other and decide how to proceed. We cannot simply leave the future of conservative principles in American government up to a succession of elections, without more.