My friend asked me if I could send her what I considered to be my baseline reading list for Conservatives. I thought I would take a few moments and share the list with my readers.
The first thing you will notice is that there are very few "current" authors on this list. That is very intentional. Far too many of the conservative reading lists I have seen lately focus on modern pundits who rail against President Obama or spout off current conspiracy theories, or in the case of several, just simply rant and rage against modern liberals without actually providing any sort of alternative conservative thought. So no, you won't see Anne Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or (heaven forbid) Glen Beck on my reading list. They are great entertainers and fantastic pundits on current events, but I don't necessarily consider them great conservative thinkers.
I won't apologize for how snobbish that sounds because it is very intentionally snobbish. The problem with the modern Conservative movement is that we don't offer a positive alternative with real solutions that are rooted in Conservative principles. My reading list is designed to provide that foundation so that when faced with a liberal idea or philosophy, my fellow Conservatives can respond intelligently with sound principles and then offer a solid alternative.
So here is my list in no particular order.... (With a few notes on some of the books)
- The Declaration of Independence
- The Constitution of the United States (if you are going to talk about the unconstitutionality of a law, you had better know what the Constitution actually says!)
- The Federalist Papers
- The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot - Russel Kirk
- Common Sense - Thomas Payne
- Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
- Real Change: From the World that Fails to the World that Works - Newt Gingrich (Gingrich talks a great deal about offering Conservative solutions to modern problems and not just being the "naysayers" that Conservatives are painted as today.)
- The Conscience of a Conservative - Barry Goldwater (One of the great manifestos of the modern Conservative movement)
- The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
- Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand (Some will paint this book as greedy capitalists taking their toys and running away from helping society, but the reality is that Rand is trying to show that when the government penalizes individual effort and achievement too far in the name of social fairness, the incentive for individuals to create is gone. Atlas held the world on his shoulders...what if he had simply shrugged off the burden and walked away?)
- Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto - Mark Levin (Levin is one of the few current pundits who actually puts forth a very strong thoughtful argument against modern liberalism, or what he calls "statists")
- Up From Liberalism - William F. Buckley (Almost anything by Buckley is worth reading. The magazine he founded, National Review, is one of the great Conservative publications out there)