War Is Not a Conservative Thing

Perpetual war and aggressive interventionism have become the hallmark of Republican foreign policy. But war is not a conservative thing.

Last month, I saw somebody assert unironically and in complete seriousness that Californians need to reelect Rep. Maxine Waters (D) “if we want to preserve the Constitution!”

This further proves what I said in my most recent Thoughts from Maharrey Head podcast — the Constitution has become nothing but a prop in America’s political theater.

People drag the Constitution out during campaign speeches and political rallies, and then ignore it when it actually comes to governing. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

It bugs me more when conservatives do it because they’re the ones who generally claim to be “constitutionalists.” And they do it a lot, especially when it comes to war.

Nine times out of 10, a person supporting this or that unconstitutional war is a self-proclaimed conservative Republican.

These people have been duped into supporting the big-government, progressive warfare state.

Here’s the question: how did war become a conservative position? It wasn’t always that way. In fact, conservatism used to be decidedly non-interventionist.

James Madison wrote about war. He said of all the enemies of public liberty, “war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded.” And he listed some reasons why.

In the first place, war leads to higher taxes. It also expands the power of government, particularly executive powers. And he noted that war leads to a “degeneracy of manners and of morals.”

None of these outcomes are “conservative.” In fact, war leads to the exact opposite of conservative.

This is why the Constitution put war-making power in the hands of Congress – to make it difficult to go to war. Those restraints have been shredded. Conservatives would do well to fight to get them back — if they really want “limited government.”

Reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan