Will is a great young conservative and will post columns from him.
Developing Conservative Convictions
Conservatives are known for having strong convictions. The value we place on freedom, prosperity and safety are not only emotional beliefs, but intellectual components of our convictions. In other words, not only do our beliefs flow from the heart, but they flow from the mind as well. So how do we develop these foundational beliefs? What is the best way to enrich our understanding of the issues that we take to heart? I believe that the best way to grow and develop your convictions is by reading.
Conservatives should do more than just argue their beliefs; they should also read about them. Reading refines our ability to filter information, sharpening our certitude and confidence. This develops our thoughts and invests our time into critical thinking as we sift the issues through our presuppositions. In turn, this helps us articulate what we believe and why we believe it.
How to Read
Unless you are listening to someone is read this to you, you already know how to read. But read with precision. I have never been able to read something one time and fully understand it. Sometimes it takes me several readings to fully grasp the point the author is trying to get across. I have learned that the more notes I take while reading, the more I am able to comprehend. In his book Conviction to Lead, Al Mohler suggests “think of reading as a silent conversation. As you read, ask the author questions and filter the book’s content through the fabric of your convictions.”
Who to Read
When you buy a book at your local bookstore (or electronic device), read the back cover to find out the author. Research the author, what they do, and what kind of experience he or she has. Does the author have any credibility? Sometimes finding a good book is like gardening: it’s good to know the difference between a flower and a weed.
What to Read
There are many recommended reading lists for conservatives online, but allow me to give five that I think are very important to conservative ideology: Free to Choose by Milton Friedman, Witness by Whittaker Chambers, Letters to a Young Conservative by Dinesh D’Souza, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, and The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. This is a short list of reads, but it is helpful in building a fundamental politically conservative worldview.