We tell ourselves we are better than the monsters that maraud in the night or slip into moments of inhumanity, revealing a dirty soul. We tell ourselves we would never, could never, commit an act so egregious as to take the life of another - especially someone innocent. We fall over ourselves to disassociate from the bad turns and root causes that WE would never fall prey to. And yet, how does one know, how do we really know we are better? The truth of the matter is that we are not - all we can do is give the opportunity to strive for something good, to push toward recompense, to find forgiveness.

As conservatives, we believe that hope for the nation lies in the collective good and capability of the individual, not a dependence upon a nanny state. Yet capital punishment flies in the face of conservatism and conservative values, both secular and moral. If we are to look at the founders identification of "inalienable rights" endowed by their creator of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - secular values framed in the context of religious speak - we find at it's base a support for the individual, and a belief in the individual's capability to do better, to grow, to make his surroundings better for those that come after. If we destroy that life, especially in the solitary confines of today's prison system (which does nothing to deter further crimes), we destroy the opportunity for them to be something better, to create something good for the rest of mankind. We claim this hope for the incarcerated, so why does it not extend to all criminals? The families of the victim get some semblance of justice (e.g. life for a life), and yet I have to imagine it still feels a bit empty as it does nothing to bring their loved one back from the grave - the life of the only person involved who could have pushed toward redemption having been snuffed out. Finally, there are also the the monetary costs which are much greater for those on death row than typical prison inmates. How can we be good fiscal stewards with a system of inconsistent punishment?

If we look toward more moral perspectives, we as conservatives support life. We decry the taking of the life of the unborn, but we are happy to meet out death at the end. This should not be so. If we can think more deeply, life is a gift of God, of the creator. If we abhor abortion because it takes a life that has yet to serve its purpose, shouldn't we also say that purpose can be fulfilled even at the end of a life? And for my religious friends, who are we to decide when a life should end? Who are we to say when time is up for the possibility of redemption? Who are we to determine when there is no more hope of a broader purpose being fulfilled? Is this not God's decision?

Conservatism believes in a brighter tomorrow because we know each person has the capacity to achieve something special for themself and their community. Yet we also acknowledge our many missteps, knowing that collectively we fail often (this is why the mistrust in government as a problem-solver persists). Capital punishment does nothing to promote our better angels, and instead offers false comfort, justice, and deterrence. My friends, we know we live in a broken world already, we should not seek to break it further.

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