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Conservatism Is Action Conserving and Building Freedom

James Anthony

September 17, 2021

A law is a rule plus a sanction.

The key rule is that no person may be unduly deprived of life, liberty, or property [1]. The associated sanctions [2] are that government people must limit other government people by using offsetting powers.

Offsetting powers limit work in process, limit losses, and prevent losses [3].

Work in process is limited by several offsetting powers. The state governments are subject to the national government’s offsetting powers over all the scope that’s enumerated for the national government. The national government is subject to state governments’ offsetting powers over nearly all the scope that’s not enumerated for the national government. The Senate is subject to vice presidents’ offsetting powers to preside over the Senate and to vote when the Senate is equally divided. Congress is subject to the presidents’ offsetting powers to object to bills and to block treaties. Presidents in turn are subject to Congress’s offsetting power to reconsider bills. Presidents are also subject to the Senate’s offsetting powers to advise and consent on appointments. The national courts are subject to Congress’s offsetting powers to make exceptions to the national courts’ jurisdictions, to make regulations on the national courts, and to create and redesign the inferior national courts.

Work in progress is also limited, and in addition losses are limited, by the offsetting powers of oaths—offsetting powers that are decentralized, ubiquitous, and comprehensive. For each government civil officer (state or national, and legislative, executive, or judicial), and for the president, each officer’s action is subject to the officer’s oath either to support the Constitution or to protect the Constitution. If the officer himself considers an action constitutional, then he is required by his oath to not perform that action.

Losses are prevented by the offsetting power of impeachment and conviction. If a government person has shown the House as grand jury and the Senate as court that the person poses a risk of abusing the powers of his office, the House and Senate have the offsetting impeachment and conviction power to revoke the person’s privileges to wield government powers anymore now or in the future.

If sanctions through offsetting powers are used, then the rule on life, liberty, and property is followed. Then we the people are securely free, and we voluntarily cooperate to add value [4] for ourselves. These actions are how we advance civilization.

Conservatives caution that liberty includes freedom from addictive substances and activities [5]. To be addicted is to be controlled and therefore not free.

Conservatism conserves freedom and builds freedom by getting offsetting powers used, through the actions of government people, party people, activists, media people, and voters.

For people in government, the required actions are simple: Use your constitutional powers against other government people [6].

For people in parties, the required actions are conceptually simple: Create a party that’s itself limited in the same ways that our governments are limited—with separated powers and offsetting powers [7].

For activists and people in media, the required actions are simple, although harder than just being fed a party line and reacting: Discredit any actions that aren’t fully constitutional. Support any actions that are fully constitutional. Above all, continually suggest actions that are fully constitutional [8].

For voters, the required actions are simple: Vote for the most-constitutionalist candidates in every caucus or primary and in every general election [9].

The key actions that prevent the advance of freedom are every decision to compromise in any way from following the Constitution. Any agreement to create more government that’s unconstitutional is far worse than no agreement to create new government. Following the Constitution creates an alternative for voters. We voters have waited a century for an alternative [10]; we can wait however many election cycles it takes to build to effective strengths as minorities and then as majorities.

Any single state or national executive who fully follows the Constitution increases freedom within his region throughout his time in office. Any 1/3 majority in any legislative house that fully follows the Constitution prevents veto overrides within its region throughout its session. Any simple majorities [11] in both legislative houses that follow the Constitution will pass bills to repeal all unconstitutional statutes in their region, and these repeals will increase freedom for at least as long as these majorities endure. Any 2/3 majority in a senate that follows the Constitution will prevent losses from current and future officeholding by government people who don’t follow the Constitution [12].

Our forefathers codified rules that reflected the best prior experience and theory, and created sanctions that advanced the best-available theory. Our forefathers then almost-completely ignored their masterwork of sanctions. Generations of incremental unconstitutionalism have compounded to leave us with an unlimited leviathan [13]. Advancing freedom by returning to our forefathers’ masterwork and putting it fully into operation is now our opportunity and our challenge.

Boundaries make good neighbors, and boundaries are conceptually simple. Boundaries simply must be respected and defended [14].

Conservatism is action to get offsetting powers used to conserve and build freedom.


  1. Anthony, James. “On the Reading of Old Constitutions.” rConstitution.us, 9 Oct. 2021, rconstitution.us/on-the-reading-of-old-constitutions/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  2. Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books. 1753. Notes edited by George Sharswood, vol. 1, 1893. The Online Library of Liberty, 2011, p. 56.
  3. Anthony, James. rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. Neuwoehner Press, 2020, pp. 3.14-5.
  4. Anthony, James. “Who Decides: Cronies, or Customers?” rConstitution.us, 28 May 2021, rconstitution.us/who-decides-cronies-or-customers/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  5. Yuengert, Andrew M. “Rational Choice with Passion: Virtue in a Model of Rational Addiction.” Review of Social Economy, vol. 59, no. 1, Mar. 2001, pp. 1-21.
  6. Anthony, James. “The First 1,461 Days of a Constitutionalist President.” rConstitution.us, 8 Jan. 2021, rconstitution.us/the-first-1461-days-of-a-constitutionalist-president/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  7. Anthony, James. “A New Major Party Is Forming Right before Our Eyes.” American Greatness, 5 Apr. 2021, amgreatness.com/2021/04/05/a-new-major-party-is-forming-right-before-our-eyes/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  8. Anthony, James. “The Right Needs a More Confrontational Politics.” American Greatness, 6 Aug. 2021, amgreatness.com/2021/08/06/the-right-needs-a-more-confrontational-politics/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  9. Anthony, James. “Voting Guide for Constitutionalists.” rConstitution.us, 30 Oct. 2020, rconstitution.us/voting-guide-for-constitutionalists/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  10. Rothbard, Murray N. The Progressive Era. Edited by Patrick Newman, Mises Institute, 2017, pp. 163–97.
  11. Coenen, Dan. “The Filibuster and the Framing: Why the Cloture Rule Is Unconstitutional and What to Do About It.” Boston College Law Review, vol. 55, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 39-92.
  12. Anthony, James. “Constitutional Impeachment Is Loss Prevention.” rConstitution.us, 5 Feb. 2021, rconstitution.us/constitutional-impeachment-is-loss-prevention/. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.
  13. Higgs, Robert. Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. 25th anniversary ed., The Independent Institute, 2012.
  14. Anthony, James. rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. Neuwoehner Press, 2020.

James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries and rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. He has written articles in rConstitution.us, American Greatness, Foundation for Economic Education, American Thinker, and The Federalist. Mr. Anthony is an experienced chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering.


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