In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle…There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it." — G. K. Chesterton.

What if the revolutionaries of the past failed to understand what they had torn down? What if the progressive builders of yesteryear never wished to understand what they had destroyed in the first place? What if they were so intoxicated by their sublime vision of "the new thing" — a new day, a new man, a new human nature, a new science, a new religion — that they destroyed many things worth saving? 

What if the progressive institutions built atop the American republic were a deformation, not a reformation — a slip-and-fall backward mistakenly heralded as a great leap into the future? 

What if we are the inheritors of such a mistake? What if dutifully defending our current institutions makes certain that this deformation will continue? 

What if the modern conservative disposition to respect ruling authorities betrays us at this moment? What if the conservative impulse to show deference to prevailing institutions has failed to conserve much of anything? What if the conservative pose has for far too long been a spectator sport of watching the latest progressive victory march? 

What if conservatives defied their nature and simply acted on what they know in their hearts to be right? What if conservatives realized the time is ripe to vastly alter or abolish many of our institutions?

What if the dawn of the "new" progressive day has already witnessed its sunset? What if the "new" progressive man has already reached retirement age and begun to succumb to his dotage? What if the "new" progressive account of human nature keeps violently crashing upon the rocks of man’s ancient drives and passions? What if the "new" science keeps stumbling down blind alleys, seeming to have lost its Promethean spark and foresight? What if the "new" religion moves further and further away from God in search of its own kingdom? 

What if the progressive institutions of the 20th century are already cracking from weak foundations? What if these institutions are floundering, even by their own standards? What if more debt, more war, more welfare, more cronyism, and a corrupt media empire of lies are leading to cracks in the wall? What if the progressive fence — once a shiny new structure of the future on the American roadway — has rotted to the point that it barely stands at all?

What if conservatives became founders and builders again, especially of local institutions independent from the Leviathan state’s designs? What if conservatives restored ancient traditions in these local institutions built anew? What if they could preserve, renovate, and restore those things worth saving, new and old alike? What if the known rules of ancient liberty have always been the bedrock of progress?

What if being conservative meant being a radical? What if being conservative meant respecting only those authorities that are worthy of respect? What if being conservative meant destroying institutions that deserve to be destroyed to make way for yet another rebirth of freedom? 

What if the establishment’s biggest fear is conservatives becoming radicals for American liberty?

What are we to do about it?

Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently, the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12 noon. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email [email protected]The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected]

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.