This is a personal outlook piece by the founder of The Jacksonian Party.
Quite some number of people have been putting down their responses on conservatism and other political outlooks in response to the What it means to be a liberal piece done at the Chicago Tribune. Unlike others I will not be tearing into their work but using it as a framework to look at Jacksonian concepts as I see them. And because Jacksonianism with a large "J" is very much individualist centered, these will reflect that conception from my own, purely personal, viewpoint. I cannot and do not push the actual foundational conceptions on *anyone*, but try to demonstrate how they can lead to valid alternatives that are neither 'liberal' nor 'conservative' unless you go back to the more 19th century reading of those terms.
1) Individuals should make up their own minds on everything within the framework of their own, personal beliefs and that of the greater society they are a part of and support. Jacksonians, thusly, do not push beliefs or faith on *anyone*, but try to ensure that honorable representation of themselves and their understanding of others is done. As part of that, Jacksonians do not believe that fighting is the 'first resort' to any conflict, but it is also not the LAST resort, either. Crossing individuals or Nations should have consequences and those need to be understood before taking action. Thus, to fully get understanding of viewpoints done, Jacksonians view censorship, 'hate speech', 'political correctness' and any other attempts to quash ideas or language as anathema to them. Sometimes only rough language can properly express a person's feelings and that should not be delegitimized from the very start. And when a Jacksonian sees that the person they are talking to is unreasonable or will not listen, then they often just reciprocate and 'agree to disagree' without being disagreeable. Personal slurs need to either be fully backed up, or apologized for when spoken. If they are a personal 'feeling' an individual may state them as such to recognize that there is NO backing to them. If such attacks continue, then response can be expected, which is usually done legally today, and in pre-20th century times via the duel.
2) Jacksonians are very much 'live and let live' individuals. This means that so long as no harm is done and no laws broken, individuals should be free to practice what they want, imbibe what they want and act as they please. When taken with the first point, this also means that an individual should learn the effects of what they ingest, how it alters them and fully understand their own, personal response to such things. Personal freedom and full civil rights for all Citizens of the Union and those properly protected as part of the Constitution are seen as full social Guarantees. The Constitution does not need to give 'extra rights' to individuals and the only social and grave import that need changing since the founding was slavery, in which it was made a due process punishment so as not to indict wide portions of the population with that social ill. Equal rights are a due process guarantee via the Constitution and what is not given to the Federal Government by the States and the People is RETAINED by the States and the People. The Federal Government is seen as the very LAST thing you want to go to so as to ensure your individual rights which START with the individual.
3) Jacksonians believe that individuals are responsible for their speech in debates and the public forum as seen in point 1. This also means that debate is to be kept non-defamatory and should impugn no individual wrongly by giving them a 'label' and then ascribing things to that label which an individual may or may not adhere to. Jacksonians do *not* see label adherence as something that would be referred to in computer languages as strong-type bonding: a label is *not* the full valuation of an individual, but only a weakly associated thing that should be cast off as viewpoints and outlooks change. Labels should only be applied to things known as *actions* as they are then fully applicable. A series of actions may then be seen as a broader type and associated with that type weakly unless that type is proven out and then it gains strong type adherance for that individual. Putting large category labels on others due to mere speech is reprehensible, anti-individualistic and, in the end, destructive to personal liberty and the depth of social intercourse necessary to run society. Jacksonians believe that the heart of representative democracy is responsible voting by the individual. Jacksonians also believe that the most accountable government is the BEST government, and thus, push for the highest number of representatives duly elected for the People and by the People. Over time this leads to difficulties found common with the People: learning to network between representatives so as to support common causes and needs as they see them. These social contact networks are also weak-type networks that change due to personal outlook and viewpoint and an individual is a part of MANY networks to reflect their diverse opinions on matters. Any attempt to sinecure parties and personal affiliations by rigging non-geographically compact districts and attempting to make 'safe' seats for mere political parties is anathema to Jacksonians as representatives should REPRESENT all the People, not just those that adhere to a political party. Diverse government is *good* government as it is self-limiting. When limits are put on representation, government then calcifies into set pathways that are neither welcome nor good for the overall health of representative democracy.
4) Jacksonians adhere with strong typing to the Constitution of the United States. Further, as that typing goes, the actual Preamble is highly meaningful for Jacksonians as it sets out the responsibilities that ALL that fall under the Constitution MUST adhere to. Jacksonians see the Nation as an honorable construct amongst Free People and the Nations Honor is seen as one's own and a precious thing to hold and uphold. As part of those responsibilities, all individuals have the widest possible swath of rights which they retain and then lend a few of them to Government to get larger and socially necessary things *done*. As with the rest of the Constitution, Jacksonians understand the framework to be: responsibilities first, methodology second, and rights third and last. Rights are to uphold the responsibilities given to individuals as part of the larger social agreement to have an honorable Nation between them. And to exercise those rights the best form of Government is seen as LOCAL and SMALL government as that is the most accountable to individuals. National government is given very few things to do to safeguard and backstop the entire Nation from invasion and to ensure that laws are justly administered. The States may have many differences in outlook and law, but there needs to be some overall 'regularity' to them and only National government can help that out on the issues it is given to oversee. Outside of those few issues, the States and the People may do as they see fit, keeping in mind the social compact and personal outlooks they hold and that individuals should be free to lead their own lives so long as they live within those guidelines. Anything that attempts to put a 'social good' upon the people via law is seen as unnecessary: if it is a good thing to do it will not NEED a law to be followed, and if it needs a law, then it must be so widely disregarded as a social good that it is a law 'in name only' and unenforceable. Jacksonians abhor the 'Nannystate' and the concept of 'doing it for your own good' moralizing of issues.
5) Jacksonians believe that all rights, save those few lent to government, are retained by the People as individuals. Jacksonians believe in full 'due process' to ensure rights are properly upheld and retained. Jacksonians also have this notion that equal representation in the courts should be equally funded so that NO ONE may gain advantage via high pay for privilege for good counsel. Thus, when the State brings legal proceedings against indigent individuals, the disproportionate weight of able legal presentation is given to the State and only the least means given to the individual. In such cases the State should ALSO need to find a 'pro-bono' attorney to present the State's case, which may have much time and funding behind it, but will start of equally in capability of representation before the law. This also goes for high profile civil cases and the need for equality of legal counsel should *not* lead to disproportionate results due to financial ability to gain excellent counsel to tie up the legal system. Further, Jacksonians view the idea that laws should be divided into an 'intent' or lawful intention statement that is the viewpoint of any law, and a 'content' portion which is the more legalistic enaction of the 'intent'. Via a system of 'intent' and 'content' a law may have legal intentions and that 'intent' upheld, but legalistic 'content' struck as not respecting the rights of the People or the laws which they must be part of. Thus, laws that would have meaningful intent would still be abided by until proper content to enact them can be made. Only improper intent would allow a law to be stricken immediately from the books. With this, Citizens who abided by the 'intent' of a law could gain legal recourse and NOT suffer petty prosecution so long as demonstration of following that 'intent' is done. Via these methods the responsibilities of the People would be justly stated and well understood, equality of counsel gained and the widest possible leeway given for minor violations of 'content' or 'rules' but the highest possible adherence to the overall 'intent' or outlook of laws. Jacksonians have major problems with the legal system as it stands today.
6) Jacksonians see that the Government has very few responsibilities laid out to it and that handing *anything* up to higher in government guarantees loss of responsibilities for the People as individuals and the Rights that are attendant with those responsibilities to ensure that these things are done properly. To the neediest and poorest government should offer a temporary hand 'up' via finding meaningful jobs and minimal help while transitioning those individuals to private sector or publicly financed, non-governmental jobs. Working is a key to liberty, and self-fulfillment and the individual is responsible for *investing* their money for their own benefit and government should not tax the PROFITS of those investments as they are rightful gains of individuals that are BUILDING society. Income and only income should be taxed, and at a low rate that is even across all the People and businesses, using *sales* as *income* but taxed as a whole, not as a *sales tax* so that *wages* can be exempt from that taxation and only taxed for the individual so that they are not taxed *twice*. Note that *investment* is not taxed. Government should take no role in such things as job training and should only serve to facilitate personal responsibility and self-teaching so that individuals can act as responsible Citizens within the Union. More localized government can and *should* offer more things, but then they will have a greater view on the localized needs to be addressed. Here, again, the Federal Government is the LAST resort for communities, not the FIRST.
7) Government shall make no law with respect to religion and all those in the government agree to have a non-sectarian, non-religious viewpoint on their actual *work* for the People. Religion should not be *pushed* by Government, nor by religious proselytizing beyond asking if someone wants to 'hear about the faith you hold'. If the answer to that is 'no', then THAT should be respected. Government has NO business in putting forth any faith, credo, set of arbitrary maxims or anything else out of what it is given to do as these are DISTRACTIONS to its job of governing well. Scientific work, as it produces measurable material results that are of benefit to the People is non-sectarian as it pushes NO religion at all but a working framework that allows understanding of how the physical world works. The difference between science and non-science are important and the ability to put forth propositions that can get measured results are a standard by which they operate. As has been stated for the business realm: Government is not here to ensure that your business model survives, only that the entire business climate remains. If one's religion is at odds with scientific views, that is up for each individual to reconcile within themselves, not something that is a matter for Government at the Federal level to get involved in. Your State and Local governments may do as they please so long as there is regularity and adherence to the Constitution.
8) Courts are the final safeguard of liberty and freedom and the LAST resort in the legal realm to ensuring that they are upheld. Any attempt to diminish the rights of the People or remove responsibilities from individuals by law, need to be addressed by the legislators FIRST, the executives SECOND and the courts LAST. The Courts are seen as having the role of ensuring that due process of law is retained, even when a law, itself, is harebrained. The Courts should not be in the business of deciding what the underpinnings of the society ARE nor if the actual law, itself, is RIGHT: that is what legislators and the executive are for in the first instance, and what a 'jury of peers' is for the second to not uphold idiotic laws. If juries refuse to uphold a law because it is asinine, that should give a loud and clear message to society, legislatures and executives to MAKE BETTER LAWS. Ruling on laws by judges are limited to those things that matter to them: the legal and Constitutional framework behind those laws. When laws break that framework they should be ruled against *immediately* with reasons given.
9) Government has no business being a 'Nannystate' and deciding what is safe and good for the People. Any attempt to dictate 'good behavior' beyond those that protect individuals from harm are seen not only as demeaning but dishonorable. There are many laws on the books that address irresponsible behavior and those should be broadened to cover such things as currently illegal drugs, but the drugs, themselves, should be made LEGAL. The only thing the Government should worry about is enforcement of research to find out the impacts of such drugs, their physiological uptake and effects, purity and dosage levels and then, for those drugs that have no medicinal value or that have recreational value, to tax those USES that are non-medicinal nor for treatment of valid diseases and disorders. For areas of personal communications there is an understanding that the entire Nation has limits upon where laws are and are NOT enforceable. There is an actual set of spatio-temporal coordinates in which the rights of individuals for the Union can be validly upheld and Jacksonians realize this and enforce those limits with a strong-type match adherence: having a Nation is meaningful and *any* attempt to expand notions of National Sovereignty beyond those meanings is not only illegal but dishonorable. The Republic of the United States is represented by USA *not* by SPQR and folks need to learn the difference. As part of that defense of the Nation the Union needs to understand the spread and changes in diseases and other problems, and then offer pathways to remedy and defense of the People against them. Those things which are purely attributable to 'bad habits' are for the People to decide as individuals, not to be proscribed by government.
10) Jacksonians adhere and believe strongly in the Constitution and that ALL rights emanate from the People and need to have the widest leeway of play and to have the highest degree of individual accountability possible. Thus, laws should be few, government minimal and enforcement of rights done via due process. Unjustly punished individuals need strong recourse against such punishment, for no matter how vile an individual is as a person, they can not and should not be imprisoned or lose life or liberty by conviction of things they did NOT do. And that means that individuals should NOT be 'tried by the media' nor have their lives investigated by the media to show how 'good or bad' an individual is. That is not the BUSINESS of the People as a whole nor of companies nor of government. Invasion of privacy, no matter who does it, is seen as reprehensible and using that to impugn individuals is seen as an abomination. Individuals are to be held accountable for these things known as 'actions' for they are the measure of the law and of the activities of society. Ideas, no matter how vile, are *not* actions and individuals should not be segregated by ideas nor punished for them by society. Being denigrated as an asshat for spouting off is one thing, but being put at loss of liberty for mere hateful verbiage is something entirely other. This is the time-honored and HONORABLE method of doing things and personal liberty and upholding the honor of the Nation and one's own personal honor are paramount. Just and equitable laws that receive full due process with equality of representation and a jury of peers to decide not only on guilt but on the *applicability* and *rightness* of the law are the full and final fail-safe against dictatorship. Unjust laws will *not* be ruled upon and scoffed at and any attempt by Government to RULE not GOVERN will be destroyed by such review by the People of such laws. In the areas of military conduct and National secrets, the Congress has set up rules and, as part of the judicial system in that area, should have instantiated a system of jury or jury-equivalents to do the EXACT SAME THING. That is how due process WORKS: review by peers. On the personal level of duels, peers were there to oversee them and the one *challenged* had choice of weapons which the one impugned graciously allowed them as it was *their* honor to be upheld to the DEATH. And, while some few were done to the death, most were done to something less than that to ensure that personal honor was upheld and that final and just decision was meted out on an even basis. Civility arose from this as very, very, very few wanted to die over impugning another individual and civilization stood on this foundation of a well-armed populace upholding their own honor and the honor of the Nation. And when that was outlawed, the path to dishonorable impugning until it met a final and *legal* definition has belittled discourse to that very, very low level. Liberty, honor and justice are all things that have their recourse for Jacksonians and none of them view fighting as a *last* resort: that is left to the Courts when NOTHING ELSE WORKS.
“Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms” - Andrew Jackson