Conserving is one of the smartest things we can do, but it requires us to do more than just rail against our own government
By Jim Kempton
Conservatives are people who conserve—fiscally, industriously and resourcefully. If Americans were practicing saving our money, our businesses and our resources, we would not only be the most successful competitive nation in the world but the most environmentally progressive as well.
Conserving and being conservative however, requires a little more than just waving the stars and stripes. For instance, it is predicted that we will soon have a 15 percent energy shortage. With a little inconvenience we could turn down our thermostat, take a shorter shower, plant drought-tolerant plants in the yard, put solar panels on all our roofs and insulate our windows. Result: way more than 15 percent energy savings. Of course that would mean conserving.
In fact all the studies now show that if we had just followed that “wimp” Jimmy Carter’s energy policies of driving 55, along with keeping our homes and businesses at 70 degrees all year, we would have no oil crisis today. But it was just too conservative for us.
Republican Teddy Roosevelt was an early conservationist, who fought even as a young man to help preserve Yellowstone National Park from commercial exploitation. As president, he created the national forest system and founded the Bureau of Forestry. Roosevelt created forest and wildlife reserves, bird sanctuaries and national parks in Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Arizona. It helped earn him a place on Mount Rushmore.
Dwight Eisenhower was one of the best Republican presidents in the 20th century according to most historians. During his two terms he expanded Social Security and even helped create the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. His most familiar achievement was authorizing the Interstate Highway System in 1956.
Besides historic breakthroughs in international diplomacy, the Nixon Presidency was also a golden era for environmental law. Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by executive order. He also signed key environmental laws: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Ocean Dumping Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Oh yeah, and he gave us Trestles as a state park. Today there is talk of disbanding the parks and eliminating the EPA.
This is a long legacy of investing in conservation and the common welfare in this great nation. Think of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln—they were digging the Erie Canal, buying the Louisiana Purchase and building the transcontinental railroad. Later greats like Teddy and Ike were building the Hoover Dam and the highway system.
All those investments made our nation great and helped every businessman and every citizen. But Congressional leaders today don’t even want to repair those things let alone build new stuff. Conservative greats of the past had the foresight to see what conserving our nation’s treasure really meant. We need to return to that conservative vision.
Jim Kempton is a big believer in conserving—our heritage, our resources and our savings.
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