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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SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2010

The Twelve Points Compendium

The following is an incomplete edition of an old, far longer draft of the Twelve Points.

The TWELVE POINTS Compendium

We, the conservatives of the United States of America, intending to define, enhance, and strengthen the conservative movement by affirming certain essential principles and creating a standard to which we can hold ourselves and our fellow conservatives, in order to allow ourselves to better serve our country and the world, state and affirm as follows:



That justice is founded on the recognition that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” and that departure from this principle is the essence of injustice;

That this equal creation yields the requirement that all people be equal before the law, and from it we derive our internally-ordered right to liberty, as equality is compromised by the arbitrary use of force, whether used by a government or a private individual;

That the most essential purpose of government is to secure and preserve justice, and this liberty-infused understanding of justice must be an immutable concern in the creation and execution of government policies;

That our natural rights are unalienable, and neither the wishes of the majority nor grand promises of national or societal greatness can ever revoke or suspend these rights, but instead can only violate them;

That when the people combine to form a government, they do not surrender their liberty, but rather delegate their right to make the final determination as to the just boundaries of their liberty, requiring such boundaries to be determined by law, and taking in place of that right a share of power over the law;

That though popular approval can make injustice legal, or even obligatory, it cannot make it just;
That consent of the governed does not exist when a majority issues orders to a minority, predicated on nothing but that majority's alleged right to rule;

That the governments of the United States must take as sacred their duties -- as distributed between them by the Constitution -- to keep Americans secure in their lives, liberty, and property, and to ensure that those who threaten this security are not rewarded at the expense of the innocent;

That both sovereign levels of government are obligated to defend individual liberty from the other, as well as from individuals;

That freedom is an essential part of justice....



That individual liberty is a basic and essential right;

That liberty is internally ordered, as arbitrary coercion is a destroyer of liberty, not an expression of it;

That in our imperfectible world, we will not remain free if an imperfection or an unmet need, without more, is thought to justify the sacrifice of a portion of our liberty;

That our right to liberty will be thoroughly violated ifany attractive objective, without more, is thought to justify governments in forcing or forbidding Americans to act as ordered;

That protecting individuals from knowingly and willingly exposing themselves to danger is not an appropriate justification for government at any level to marshal the force of law;

That taxes, when used to finance programs and expenditures that do not justify the penalties used in tax collection, violate the essential right to liberty;

That every dollar spent by government has been or will be taken from an American;

That we, as conservatives, must commit ourselves at once to developing an effective but politically feasible plan to overcome -- in our lifetimes -- the sense that a spending item needs nothing more than an admirable goal to justify the taxes that pay for it;

That this cannot be accomplished until we turn our collective imagination to the task of finding sources of revenue that are not compulsory in the traditional sense, leveraging the rights of taxpayers, without their individual, prior consent and agreement, to pressure them to pay for expenditures that are desirable but irrelevant to the governmental responsibility to secure justice;

That “corporate welfare” is no more appropriate or conservative than any other practice that rewards people or entities with money that they did not earn, by charging taxpayers who have done nothing wrong;

That tributes to the name of Liberty are empty platitudes unless others are left free to act and refuse to act even in ways that we find unpleasant, irresponsible, or immoral -- provided that they have not threatened the legitimate rights of others -- without suffering forceful retribution or other threats to their own legitimate rights;

That, nevertheless, the success of a free society depends on the virtues willingly practiced by its people, and on their choices, as individuals, to assume control of their own lives and to use their freedom responsibly;

That a person's spiritual and moral development cannot be effectively or justly directed by governments, and that virtue cannot survive without liberty any more than liberty can flourish without virtue....



That the United States Constitution is the greatest legal obstacle for those who would use government to violate our rights;

That to assist the Constitution in this crucial function, its universal recognition as the "supreme law of the land" should be made meaningful through the introduction of sincerity, and it should be acknowledged as obligatory and binding on the state and federal governments of the United States of America;

That the Constitution serves its role in various, indispensable ways, including: 

        • The division of governmental power, first between the federal and state governments, and again between the three federal branches,
        • The independence of the federal branches and the limited power each has over the others,
        • A structure forcing factions to battle each other for control of the federal government, thus making each faction a check on the influence of the others,
        • The limitation of the federal powers to those stated in the Constitution,
        • The preservation of the unstated rights of the people and the reservation of all non-delegated powers to the people and the states,
        • The explicit recognition, distributed between the original constitutional text and its amendments, of rights that are indispensable not only for their intrinsic value but also because they protect and encourage checks, both internal and external, on the power of government,
        • Rules of construction,
        • Prescription of mandatory procedures,
        • Proscription of several of the most dangerous abuses,
        • Notifying Americans of their rights in a single, concise document, and
        • Imploring certain agents of government to vindicate those rights;
        • That of these protective provisions, each is binding law and must be applied, unwaveringly, to restrain government and defend individual liberty;

That governments are bound by law, and constitutional deviations and violations are illegal and dangerous whether they are perpetrated by the federal government, in any of the three branches, or by the states;

That every American deserves the protections of due process, the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the protection of the warrant requirement for searches and seizures, and all other safeguards proper – and no less than those that are required by the U.S. Constitution, or other valid rules of law – to ensure that only criminals are treated as such and that every person has a fair and complete opportunity to defeat claims of his guilt, beginning from a presumption of innocence;
That behind the Constitution are additionally certain undeniable and long-established safeguards in the rules of the Common Law and Equity, and that if they were not honored, injustice would surely follow;

That the guarantees of our laws provide no shelter from arbitrary power so long as any person can be placed outside their protection without due process and so long as the benefits of their protection can be indefinitely delayed;
That the legislative power of America's federal government is vested in its Congress alone, and there it remains, even when Congress is tolerant or impotent in the face of usurpation by the other branches;
That no law can be executed that has not first been enacted;

That while some laws that exist should be repealed, those that are consistent with the Constitution and not patently unjust should be enforced, as it is harmful to the integrity and objectives of American legislation to vainly publish rules and threaten punishment;
That the United States Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land, does not and should not authorize or permit the imposition of service requirements of any kind on the people of the United States, other than as a criminal sentence for those who have been duly convicted;

That the Constitution should be strengthened, as it has been in the past, by amendments extending legal rights to those who have been unduly denied them, and so that each part of the Constitution can more effectively serve its intended purpose in restraining arbitrary governmental power;
That the Constitution, of which each provision was required to achieve an extraordinary level of approval in order to be ratified, and which received that approval because of the function and effect that those provisions were promised to have, should be interpreted and enforced with honesty;
That any legitimate constitutional interpretation is, at the very least, a plausible product of a sincere attempt to discover what the creators of the interpreted provision believed they were drafting and approving;

That a power in Congress to decide the specific content of our laws is not a power to abrogate their basic principles or to deviate from natural law;
That actions, decisions, and policies should be opposed if they ignore and enfeeble the Constitution, particularly for temporary or chimerical gains, and that such actions, decisions, and policies weaken the power of the Constitution to guard Americans against coercion and the other forms of injustice....


Concerning LIFE:

That all human life is sacred, and that intrusion on the right to life is the most complete, absolute, and irreversible form of coercion conceivable, denying another human being even the modicum of freedom to be left to continue to exist;

That the denial of the right to life is not justified by the failure of a human being to have yet been born, or by the artificial boundary of "viability," and the question of the extent of the reach of this right should not be obscured by irrelevant quarreling over when a state government might possess a mere interest in protecting it;

That as all humans possess a right to life, the task of defining “personhood” must be confronted, not indefinitely deferred for its perceived difficulty;

That in considering the status of the unborn, the danger lies not in the possibility that we will be unduly generous in recognizing their humanity -- the humanity of members of our species, separated by mere months from universal recognition and the protection of law -- but in the possibility that we will be too stingy; that personhood, which indisputably begins well before birth, should be recognized from conception;

That those who are "pro-life" and those who are genuinely "pro-choice," if they find no other middle ground, should at least agree that governments should not assist in the destruction of what is, at the very least, very nearly human life;

That the Right to Life must be vigorously defended from both intentional and reckless violations;

That care and respect for human life must be encouraged even beyond the the obligations created by the Right to Life, and that we, as individuals, have a moral duty to enthusiastically but voluntarily assist those most vulnerable, in the manner that most encourages their future independence;

That the Right to Life is the most basic expression of the freedom to which all people are entitled -- that, if nothing more, each person should be left to continue to exist....



That our well-being depends on the existence and our enjoyment of secure, reliable private property rights;

That without the institution of private property, our relationship to the material world would be one that makes us needlessly dependent on the will of others, while private property rights complement our natural liberty and independence;

That for the futile, contrary interests of each person in the commons of the Earth, we have substituted -- through the division and organization of those interests -- widespread opportunity to possess a more meaningful, valuable right: ownership of the soil under one's own feet, and on which his house stands, and that the owner can rightfully use and enjoy as he chooses;

That property rights are invaluable as the foundation of a free market economy, which is itself a prerequisite to meaningful realization of the general right to liberty; 

That it is the security and reliability of property rights, once established, that allows these rights to foster their inestimable social and material benefits:

        • By teaching responsibility, and giving individuals incentives to behave responsibly
        • By providing the material basis for elevating the potential uses of one's freedom
        • By allowing individuals to retain the fruits of their labor
        • By encouraging individuals to set root in a community, thereby encouraging the beneficial development of those communities, and
        • By allowing individuals to arrange for their own future material security;

That every ally of justice abhors the use of eminent domain to take private property for private benefit, but should also oppose government takings for public uses, when they are not genuinely necessary in the course of governments' just and appropriate functions;
That the right of a person to keep the fruits of his labor is no less than his right to keep home, his business, or his land....



That because the free market is an expression of our natural right to liberty, and because it is the best economic system for encouraging vigorous economic growth -- thereby helping to meet the material needs of human beings -- there is no tolerable substitute for the free market;

That the survival of economic freedom depends on the prevalence of the understanding that the free market not only is the best economic system, but also why it is the best, how it works, when it is its least effective, and why the fallacies invoked against it are fallacious;

That governments should maintain economic freedom through low tax rates, free trade, preservation of the freedom of contract, stable monetary policy, balanced budgets, fiscal restraint, honest budgeting, respect for the investment of private property, and by avoiding unnecessary and unnecessarily burdensome regulation;

That we live in a world of relative scarcity, and that while a healthy economy continually expands the frontiers of wealth and causes this scarcity to recede, even the best economic system cannot eliminate unmet needs altogether;

That the liberty to pursue material well-being, security, and independence -- inside the just framework of the free market economy -- is not only an essential right, but one deserving special care;

That governments should maintain economic freedom through low tax rates, free trade, preservation of the freedom of contract, stable monetary policy, balanced budgets, fiscal restraint, honest budgeting, respect for the investment of private property, and by avoiding unnecessary and unnecessarily burdensome regulation;

That we live in a world of relative scarcity, and that while a healthy economy continually expands the frontiers of wealth and causes this scarcity to recede, even the best economic system cannot eliminate unmet needs altogether;

That the liberty to pursue material well-being, security, and independence -- inside the just framework of the free market economy -- is not only an essential right, but one deserving special care;

That governments should maintain economic freedom through low tax rates, free trade, preservation of the freedom of contract, stable monetary policy, balanced budgets, fiscal restraint, honest budgeting, respect for the investment of private property, and by avoiding unnecessary and unnecessarily burdensome regulation;

That we live in a world of relative scarcity, and that while a healthy economy continually expands the frontiers of wealth and causes this scarcity to recede, even the best economic system cannot eliminate unmet needs altogether;

That the liberty to pursue material well-being, security, and independence -- inside the just framework of the free market economy -- is not only an essential right, but one deserving special care;

That governments should maintain economic freedom through low tax rates, free trade, preservation of the freedom of contract, stable monetary policy, balanced budgets, fiscal restraint, honest budgeting, respect for the investment of private property, and by avoiding unnecessary and unnecessarily burdensome regulation;

That we live in a world of relative scarcity, and that while a healthy economy continually expands the frontiers of wealth and causes this scarcity to recede, even the best economic system cannot eliminate unmet needs altogether;

That the liberty to pursue material well-being, security, and independence -- inside the just framework of the free market economy -- is not only an essential right, but one deserving special care;

That no person is owed the involuntary assistance of others in this pursuit, or in place of it....



That conservatives must not only oppose racism, a cancer on society and a deadly threat to justice, but must also take an active interest in solving and eliminating this problem;
That the solution begins with a resolute promotion of justice and equality before the law -- both in word and in fact -- and with each of us, as individuals, guarding the rights of others just as we would guard our own;
That unity, though not artificial uniformity, is a means as much as a goal in America's pursuit of racial reconciliation;
That the purposeful division of peers over immaterial differences in physical form, culture, ancestry, and origin is an affront to individuality and a threat to unity;
That it is in the interest of every American that no distinct class of inhabitants be maintained that, denied equality before the law, is compelled to submit to arbitrary authority;
That cultural traits and traditions do not flow from ancestry or run with race, but should be freely adopted by people who find them valuable, regardless of how those traits and traditions were introduced to them....



That conservatives must take a genuine and active interest in the preservation of the environment, supporting policies shaped by the same familiar principles and purposes that should guide any government action;

That in creating environmental policy, we must guard liberty, private property rights, the rule of law, and our economy, and also remember the risks in the steps that we take, including the risk of unintended consequences and the possibility that our actions will be motivated by error;

That private property enjoys better stewardship than public property, uniting control and consequences, and so the private protection of resources is preferable to public ownership and management;
That with respect to those resources over which private ownership is impracticable, public policy should unite the share of control an individual exercises over the common resource with its respective share of the consequences for the public;
That conservation for these purposes, and based on sound science, is complementary to our understanding of justice and property rights, and will enhance our quality of life;

That measures enacted without regard for their effect on property rights, the economy, and liberty will eventually harm all three....



That as government expands, freedom contracts;

That the government can't control an economy without controlling people;

That in controlling people, "it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose”;

That centralized funding centralizes power;

That centralized power diminishes responsiveness and accountability;

That government is not competent to do all things;

That government tends to grow, whenever that growth is not actively resisted;

That even ineffective and obsolete government programs are vigorously defended by their administrators and beneficiaries, giving a long life to the waste and injustice of distended government;

That the myriad of small but unjustified government expenditures cannot be separately defended by pointing out the relative insignificance of each of them alone, as the dollar is no less valuable when it is counted in pennies;

That as Americans' ability to control their government -- as it is our right and duty to do -- is dependent on their ability to observe and communicate information on the conduct of government, the freedoms of speech and of the press deserve special care and protection, and the legislative and executive branches should abandon these freedoms to be protected by the judiciary alone, but should use their own powers to enshrine and shield these freedoms and those who have chosen to exercise them;

That even when they are intended to protect genuine and indispensable national security secrets, any restrictions on these rights must be met with the greatest skepticism and caution;

That no American should tolerate restrictions on the ability of individuals to monitor and investigate their own government through ordinary and otherwise lawful means;

That Congress and the executive branch alike should be made to take every reasonable and feasible measure to make their actions and processes known to the people who they serve;

That through an amendment to the Constitution, the power of Congress to create special laws should be eliminated;

That through an amendment to the Constitution, Americans should require that every bill passed by Congress and every vote taken by Congress be restricted to a single subject;

That a clear distinction must be maintained between military and civil power, and that the administration of civil law inside the borders of the United States is neither an appropriate nor lawful arena for the use of the military units or civil law enforcement units of a martial character;

That to the extent that government controls are imposed on the market, extraordinary vigilance and stringent ethical standards are needed to prevent such controls from being used to forcefully burden or exclude certain economic actors for the benefit of others, all under the pretext of genuine necessity and public need;

That beyond its legitimate functions, governments do little as well as the private sector, and that among the reasons for this governmental ineffectiveness are the absence of private enterprises' absolute need to satisfy their customers, governments' relative immunity to the driving effects of competition, and the low probability that a governmental department that fails in its role will ever be replaced or meaningfully reformed;

That freedom depends on the effective restraint of government, limiting its power and preventing the accumulation of that power in a single authority;

That these restraints can include the restricting of the subject matter over which government possesses any control, prohibition of specific abuses of that control, and rules of law limiting the means and controlling its processes of government;

That we, as American citizens, must require our government to honor the constraints that already exist;

That freedom and its benefits are most endangered when Americans are severally bribed into selling not only their own freedom, but also that of their neighbors;

That when it relieves families and voluntary associations of their traditio
nal responsibilities by supplanting them in their invaluable role, a government can extinguish blessings that no government can replace;

That as there is no end to the promised benefits of government intrusion, there is no enterprise or personal sphere of freedom that is not eventually at risk of being bled of its value or driven from existence....



That some government functions, primarily in the governmental tasks of providing security and securing justice, deserve the support of all Americans, though some may be spared the obligation to actually pay that support, due to hardship;

That outside of those two core governmental functions, and where practicable, taxes should be made as similar as possible to user fees, charging willful beneficiaries of a particular government expenditure in proportion to the benefit that they derive from that expenditure;

That while taxes should never be used to fund government expenditures that are unconstitutional or that do not justify the obligatory taxes that fund them, when Americans cannot or will not part with an unjustified government expenditure, strategies can and should be formed to raise revenue in ways that are not compulsory in the traditional sense, and that do not leverage individual taxpayers' rights without their individual prior consent and agreement in order to compel them to pay;
That once required to do so, governments could justly and ethically raise substantial revenue using game theory and simple contractual lures, finding ways to offer Americans a package of benefits to which they were not already entitled but would willingly pay to obtain;
That these alternatives have not yet been considered and developed because too few politicians believe that it is possible for desirable expenditures to ever violate the Constitution or taxpayers' natural rights;
That by constitutional amendment, Americans can and should impose permanent controls specifying that only certain appropriate, lawful expenditures may ever be funded by traditional, compulsory taxation, thereby requiring the development of just alternatives to minimize the injustice of taxation....



That in the formulation and execution of all policies, we must employ the conservative principle of prudence with intellectual vigor and a wide-minded perceptiveness, appreciating both the possibility of our own errors and also the possibility that inaction, at times, is an imprudent course of action as well;

That it is essential for policy programs to be shaped by an understanding of the present facts and the way the world really works, a realization that the consequences of policies cannot be effectively predicted outside of that framework, and accommodation of the fact that we cannot predict the behavior of people as well as we can predict the behavior of things;

That prudent policy-making requires that we avoid the blinding effect of zealous passions for ideologies;

That we may not fully appreciate the consequences of our actions, and that "Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery;"

That few decisions would be less conservative than to abandon the American heritage as represented by our Constitution and the traditions of liberty....



That we must defend America's just interests, preserving security and freedom for ourselves and our posterity;

That to this end, no source of strength -- including hearty diplomacy, strategic soundness, the will and preparedness to use military force, and all other just and constitutional resources -- may be wisely neglected;

That we court catastrophe when we overestimate our military strength, imprudently misspend it, or neglect to sustain and reinforce it;

That, as the federal government ought to be effective in its duty to preserve liberty, justice, and security for the American people -- and recalling also America's role as a beacon of liberty and justice for the world -- the use of military force should be preceded by a far-sighted consideration of the circumstances and consequences, and the conclusion that the use of such force is wise and necessary;
That once this decision has been made, like attention should then be given to the manner in which force is used;
That our ability to deter threats depends largely on our strength militarily, our possession of the intelligence, skill, and resources to wield that strength effectively, and our adversaries' certainty that America will answer aggression decisively; and

That the uniting goal of all of the foregoing must be to keep the United States of America, at once, secure, just, prosperous, and free.

Completed in Cicero, an outgrowth of the City of Indianapolis, on the Fourth of July, Anno Domini 2010 and in the Year of American Sovereignty and Independence the 235th.