Educating Legislators

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 purpose of the Twelve Points is to serve as a delivery mechanism for distilled, concentrated conservative thinking, with the goal of returning clarity and completeness to popular conservatism, and spreading knowledge of the true principles of conservatism throughout the conservative community.

The idea for the Twelve Points, along with much of the content of the document itself, came from the "Seven Points," which was created by a group of conservative college students in 2003 at Indiana University: Grand Old Cause.

Even in light of the 2010 election results, the conservative movement has become confused and aimless. Certain essential conservative principles and considerations have faded from memory and lost their influence. The Twelve Points will help to solve this problem by reminding us of conservative thinking that we may not have considered recently, and by making that thinking available to new, developing conservatives.

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FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2010

Educating legislators

I have heard of certain "crash courses" that are offered to certain elected officials upon their election.  These are important because 1) unlike judges, there is no rule or tradition tending to assist legislative candidates who are educated in certain matters of law, history, or jurisprudence, 2) we have no class of people that is educated in such matters, and 3) elections make elected officials dependent upon voters, but neither primary nor general elections are fit for use in screening out candidates who do not meet a standard of minimal competence in these matters.  As a result, we have to educate them once they are elected, (somehow) educate potential candidates before they are elected, or suffer under the influence of uneducated officials.

The existence of such courses indicates that some people have (fortunately) taken it upon themselves to pursue the option of educating officials who have already been elected.  The effect of this is doubtlessly positive, but it does have shortcomings -- first, it can affect the beliefs and priorities of candidates between their election and their inauguration, placing an even greater divide between what they may promise and what they ultimately do, and second, there is the risk that the information being given there to freshman legislators is misleading or even contrary to principles of good government.

A great solution would be to compile some sort of comprehensive text on good government that could be used to reach the larger number of potential candidates.  Unfortunately, no such text currently exists, and creating one would be a major undertaking that most people are unqualified to undertake.  Those who are qualified are evidently disinclined to actually write the text, or else they would do so.  Even if they were to do so, we could not be certain that the text would actually succeed, being widely distributed, adopted, and studied.

The Twelve Points were a more limited undertaking.  Among their purposes is to educate officeholders, candidates, and potential candidates in some of the indispensable ideas that are not currently being circulated as widely as they should be.  They are not as detailed as a more comprehensive text would be, but they fit as much detail as possible into their five pages and communicate a lot of ideas that need very much to be communicated.

Help me to tell our fellow conservatives about the Twelve Points -- they are the best five-page crash-course we have.