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 First Point

The purpose of the First Point, other than to state certain ideas that would have been missed if they had been absent, is to accomplish the following: 1) explain the relationship between "equality" and "justice," 2) explain the meaning of equality as it is meant in competent discussions of justice, and 3) to state that by the acts of forming a government or electing representatives, people do not surrender their rights, and that governments are instead obligated to respect and secure those rights.

One reason why it was necessary to write about this is that too many conservatives have accepted and adopted liberals' misuse of the word "equality."  In this use of the word, it is an aspirational but imaginary and unattainable right to equality (or less inequality, in the short term) in terms of wealth or some other measure of material well-being.  This gives us a false choice between freedom and "equality," since a right to this mock-equality would be used to justify the use of force to transfer wealth to some of us at the expense of others.  As a result, instead of recognizing that equality does not reign unless individual freedom is maintained, a conservative who is confused about this would claim that we, as conservatives, favor freedom over equality.  Both for rhetorical reasons and because a proper understanding of equality truly is the foundation of everything that we believe about justice, this mistake needs to be corrected.

A similar mistake is often made when discussing the impact of the institution of government on our natural rights.  Depending on what the speaker means by it, it may be true that we have surrendered a portion of our "freedom," giving the government the authority to make certain decisions for us.  However, the only authority that we can justly entrust to a government is an authority to discover and keep (in practice) the just, natural boundaries of our rights, creating laws that recognize and trace those boundaries as precisely as possible.  We do not change those boundaries.  In error, however, many people claim that our supposed (involuntary) decision to surrender our freedom is a justification for invasive, coercive government policies.  (As a bad excuse, it is not quite as bad as the blanket justification that "there are limits to freedom," but it's still a pretty bad excuse.)

We have to understand justice to understand how to properly apply our other principles.  These are simple concepts, but they need to be reviewed, from time to time.  As President Reagan pointed out, this knowledge is not inherently passed from generation to generation.  It has to be learned, and it has to be taught.  If too many of us begin to forget it (or never learned it properly in the first place), then it should be obvious why we have failed to hold our representatives to these standards.