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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On the uses of a bill of rights

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1788, James Madison wrote that he supported the creation of a federal bill of rights, even though he doubted its potential to effectively restrain a democratically-elected government.  As reasons for this support, he stated two advantages that he believed a bill of rights would offer -- advantages that may be easy for Americans alive today to overlook:

"What use then it may be asked can a bill of rights serve in popular Governments?  I answer the two following which though less essential than in other Governments, sufficiently recommend the precaution. 1. The political truths declared in that solemn manner acquire by degrees the character of fundamental maxims of free Government, and as they become incorporated with the national sentiment, counteract the impulses of interest and passion. 2. Altho' it be generally true as above stated that the danger of oppression lies in the interested majorities of the people rather than in usurped acts of the Government, yet there may be occasions on which the evil may spring from the latter source; and on such, a bill of rights will be a good ground for an appeal to the sense of the community.  Perhaps too there may be a certain degree of danger, that a succession of artful and ambitious rulers, may by gradual & well-timed advances, finally erect an independent Government on the subversion of liberty.  Should this danger exist at all, it is prudent to guard against it, especially when the precaution can do no injury."

These benefits are easy to overlook, as I wrote above, because we are now so used to most of the Bill of Rights being legally enforceable and enforced (as it should be, but which Madison did not think could be expected) that it is surprising that Madison would have been more interested in the influence that the Bill of Rights might ultimately have on the political process than in its potential enforceability in the courts.

Make no mistake -- it is important that the Bill of Rights is enforceable, as it was meant to be.  As someone who happens to like the U.S. Constitution, however, I am fascinated by the idea that the Bill of Rights was intended to have such an important role outside of the legal system.