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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The Only Statement of Conservative Principles We Need?

I have discussed before how some bloggers have repeatedly quoted Michelle Malkin's initial response to the Mount Vernon Statement, at the end of which she linked to a picture of a one of those "Miss me yet?" billboards, altered to replace President Bush's picture with a picture of the Constitution.  She then asked, isn't this the only statement of conservative principles we need?

I pointed out that her main point had been the very valid observation that the Mount Vernon Statement's signers' commitment to "constitutional conservatism" is meaningless unless the signers will also oppose candidates and policies that violate the Constitution.  Presumably, her description of the Constitution as the only statement of conservative principles that we need was meant more to introduce that picture than it was to actually emphasize that description of the Constitution as though it were her main point.  After all, the Constitution is not a statement of principles at all, and even if it were not, surely we at least need the principles of the Declaration of Independence in addition to those of the Constitution!  (If her point is to be taken literally, which, again, I do not think is what she intended, don't we at least need an extrinsic statement telling us which amendments conservatives should support keeping in place?  The 16th is quite unpopular, with good reason, and many conservatives think that the 17th has damaged the frame of our government, too.  However, I hope that we can agree that most of the other amendments are important.  As my compiled version of the Bill of Rights would indicate, I think that if we were to confer the name "Bill of Rights" on a set of our existing constitutional amendments today, the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, 26th, and 27th would be as deserving of the name as the first ten were.  How can we distinguish these seven from, say, the 16th, if only the Constitution itself can serve as our statement of principles?  We cannot, which is why I am certain that Michelle Malkin did not intend for so many people to read her comment literally and to spread it across the internet.)

Anyway, in addition to that, some of the words of Edmund Burke might have a place in a statement of conservative principles:

"Far am I from denying ... the real rights of men. In denying their false claims of right, I do not mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended rights would totally destroy. If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule; they have a right to do justice, as between their fellows, whether their fellows are in public function or in ordinary occupation. They have a right to the fruits of their industry and to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents, to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring, to instruction in life, and to consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself..."

Obviously, I am in favor of the idea of a statement of conservative principles.  In the course of writing the Twelve Points, though I was already a conservative, I researched conservatism in order to introduce every valuable and essential idea I could into the Twelve Points, rather than simply relying on my own knowledge and beliefs as they were.  Through that research, I found countless conservative principles, large and small, including those stated in the previous paragraph.  No statement of conservative principles, including the Twelve Points, could possibly include them all.  The Constitution itself, though magnificent, is not a comprehensive statement of principles at all -- it is the Supreme Law of the Land.  I hope that my fellow conservatives will not fail to continue reading, thinking about, and discussing the multitude of ideas that form the conservative philosophy, because it is at this time when we need them most; without them, there is a risk that we will define ourselves in our own minds more in relation to President Obama than in relation to the conservative principles and philosophy and to our long-term, conservative objectives.