Kopp Column: You’re An Individual, Not A Group


Who are you? You’re reading this political blog so I ask you, who are you? How do you define yourself?

Political pundits through the last election have divided us in to groups such as conservatives, neo-cons, libertarians, liberals, socialists, Marxists, immigrants, Latinos, Americans, Native Americans, Democrats and Republicans. Do you see one of those groups as being your group? If so, that’s very sad because you are not that group. You are an individual with power, privilege and priority.

In a political discussion or event, if you see a person, then you may be a conservative.

In a political discussion or event, if you see a group, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

You are important because you are an individual, not because of your job, income, blood line, social status or group to which you belong. You may belong to a group, a state, a country, or a demographic, but you are NOT that group, state, country or demographic. You are a person. Gender, race, social status, age, sexual orientation and physical abilities do not increase or decrease your value. Your greatest value is because you are you.

If you are a conservative, you know this to be true. If you are a conservative, you know you and I lose our individuality when we are lumped together with others and treated as a group. Individual needs as well as individual abilities are erased when seen merely as a member of a group. Rules and limits applied to the group limit the individual, especially when the rules or limits may be inappropriate or utterly useless for you or I as an individual.

That is why conservatives do not see America as a mass of local agencies called states that are subservient to the federal government.

That is why conservatives do not agree that people are to be rewarded with welfare, affirmative action or special titles and bonuses merely based on racial, gender or economic distinctions. Individuals are to be rewarded for their own individual effort, not for being part of class of people.

Programs are wrong if they give one class of people an advantage over another class. They do not respect individuals. That leads to inefficiency and a “less-than-excellent” system.

This means also that persons with limiting physical conditions are to be equally valued and respected as anyone who does not have the limiting physical condition. Precisely, that means not just disabled, but also the elderly, and especially the unborn are valuable humans.

Conservatives lose debates and elections when they forget individuals and push issues. When the person is forgotten in a debate and policy becomes the issue, conservatives lose their battles. Elections as well as debates are won one individual at a time.

The belief in the value of an individual is at the core of a true conservative’s world view. Every other conservative belief stems from this one belief. Ignore this one conservative belief and you will lose the strength of your belief in property rights, personal freedom, and personal responsibility.

Mike Kopp has exercised hi political muscle as a media director to two statewide campaigns, a television political reporter, a lobbyist, and staff assistant to the Senate Majority Leader. He is currently a communications director working from his home in Wilton, ND.

Mike Kopp has exercised his political muscle as a media director to two statewide campaigns, a television political reporter, a lobbyist, and staff assistant to the Senate Majority Leader. He is currently a communications contractor working from his home in Wilton, ND.

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  • sbark

    Individualism………its really the basis of what built this country

    the Dem’crat Party cannot ever have the country to be unified. They just can’t. They would not exist without conflict. They cannot survive without chaos of class envy. They cannot co-exist without an us versus them
    Notice the Left always says the rich dont pay their fair share……….they never throw out a figure of what that fair share is, they dont say a 60% rate, because it only gives them a 8 day supply of new revenue, and next year they will have to claim the “fair share” needs to be 70%………
    They have thrown out figures defining rich. Under Clinton that was 2 million per year, but notice that is already down to 250,000, and this with QE1,2,34 and its bloated monatary supplies, which if anything should be pushing the “rich’ definition upwards.

    The ironic thing, if the Left keeps spending (the real problem), they will need to define rich down to 5.00 bucks above the poor level for a family of 5, which is 34000, in order to raise the revenue to even just balance the yearly deficit, let alone chip away at the 16 trillion debt.

    • $8194357

      and 2 tru 4 skool of any statist tyranical kind…

  • $8194357

    Constitutional individualism based on standing alone before a Holy God
    on Judgement Day….Collectivism since the tower of Bable has been shown to
    be of no defense when “accusing” God for our own individual failures, huh..

    • Mike

      Good point..and one with which I agree.

      • $8194357

        The crowd defense or “collective” is one the devil has folks thinking there is safety in….Sooooo wrong..
        God Bless now, Hear?

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    The Left is at constant war against the very idea of the individual. It has been so since ancient times. They are the witch doctors and zombies of primitive collectivism and promote a religion of envy, hatred, decay and death.

    • two_amber_lamps

      My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
      My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do….

      • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

        I beg to differ! I haven’t heard anything as articulate as “Ooh, eee, ooh, ah, ah” from anyone on the left since HHH.

    • $8194357

      2 tru

  • WOOF

    “Now this is the Law of the Jungle—
    as old and as true as the sky;
    And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
    but the wolf that shall break it must die.
    As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk,
    the Law runneth forward and back;
    For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
    and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

  • Thresherman

    Actually there are only 2 groups. those who want more governmental control and those who do not.

  • SusanBeehler

    So why is the label a true conservative so important? We are all individuals yet we are interdependent. There would be no left without a right. A capitalist needs a group to build capital. An employer needs employees to achieve his label. Hard workers can be slaves, hard
    work does guarantee freedom. Many on this blog when they post have to label others, why? Labeling stunts open communication, learning and growth. You cannot be a majority in a democracy without a group of people. It is getting stuck in policy and losing focus on what truly makes a place good for individuals to grow which is the problem with identifying with a group as being the answer to a problem.

    • Flamejob5

      Once you begin to learn & understand principles you’ll find the left/right false paradigm quickly fading away and all there really is left is either up or down.

      Liberty or Tyranny.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Labels are important because that’s how we identify things. People who don’t want labels in politics are usually people who want to be freed from principles.

  • kjuu

    And yet it is condered “wrong” for an individual to have emotional feelings for a member of the same sex that are currently reserved for members of the opposite sex because, reasons. So we urge government to act against a “group” of people and deny them the ability to marry, hold a job, or live the way the correct group does.

    I defend conservatism all over the place. But it needs to really look at its own hypocrisy and fix it. Otherwise it’s freedom for me but not for thee.

    • Mike

      Conservatives also believe in a moral order or natural law.

  • Lynn Bergman

    Mike touches on one of Frederick Bastiat’s two key elements of the “rule of law”, that a law favor no single individual or group over another.
    Bastiat’s other element is that a law be PERMANENT. Legislation is often passed “temporarily” to address a flaw that inevitably becomes fully exposed with time. Can you say “fiscal cliff”?
    If legislators abided by these two elements of the rule of law, there would be only 5% of the legislation currently passed and the sessions would last under40 days.

    • Mike

      Legislation is often passed to appease the insatiable demand for instant gratification, pass a law that meets today’s need regardless of tomorrow’s potential.

  • waterjoe

    Some valid points, but I don’t know if it should be tagged under “philosophy.” In philosophy, including political philosophy, there is a difference between “individual” and “person.” The writer confuses the two.

    The distinction is important because it differentiates, and therefore highlights, the tension between “libertarian” conservatives and Burkean/Kirk conservatives. From the view of the Burkean/Kirk conservatives, both the political left and the political right errs in both grouping and sometimes over-emphasizing individualism. What else is the left’s obsession with abortion, sex without consequences, same-sex marriage, and such but individualism in morals?

    • Mike

      The distinction is good for a robust discussion not limited to 600 words. Perhaps not even limited to the 600 pages of Kirk’s Essays.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    When you are part of the group that holds the political and financial power I guess it is easy to claim that it doesn’t make a difference.

  • kevindf

    Why does the free lunch bunch whine like little babies whenever their theories are challenged?

  • borborygmi

    Can you be an individual, or does interdependence preclude individuality to some extent. Law, morals, social mores, will all take a toll on individuality. Just the human need to belong will hinder your individuality. Individuality reminds me of the rebellious teen that cuts his hair different, wears ‘unique clothes’ gets a tat, soon many more rebellious teens do the same thing and poof individuality disappears.

    • Mike

      So should that teen be lumped together with all others who cut their hair that way, wear unique clothing and tats? Should they bear the sins and burdens of all who cut their hair that way, wear their clothes that way, or wear their ink that way?

      • borborygmi

        You are assuming that certain groups of teens have sins and burdens because of the way they look? If the goal is to be an individual by joining a group then individualism is diminished. Unless you are living and surviving on your own you can’t be an individual. Dependency on your fellow man is inherent in most people. Perhaps this is all interpretation of what individualism is? What is the definition? 1: the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant. VERY FEW ARE THIS or can be this in todays society……2:a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control…..This way leads to anarchy. Even that may be impossible. If a group of anarchists get together to plan …..whoops there goes individuality……” collective or state control” state control is self explanatory what is collective control ? Religion, Family, Social mores, customs. Whoops there goes individuality again.

        • Mike

          re: “You are assuming that certain groups of teens have sins and burdens because of the way they look.”

          Whoa! Exactly 100% the opposite. Exactly 180 degrees from that. I didn’t realize what I’d written was not understood. My point is that an individual is to be seen as a valuable human being, as an individual, not as a member of a group and never should be seen as the group, but only be seen as an individual.
          Quote: “…you are not that group…” That includes the group of people who dress a certain way, talk a certain way, ride a certain kind of motorcycle, listen to a certain type of music.

          Sheesh, me thinkest thou lookest for an argument that is not here.
          The answer and reply to your points 1 and 2 are clear in the post as written.

          • borborygmi

            I am saying that the pursuit of individuality is a farce except in the most superficial sense. Gather a few people together and individuality will fade. People like to be a member of a group except for a very few.

        • Mike

          Borborygmi — what do you think of this site?


          • borborygmi

            It brings forth nothing new. Class warfare has been present forever. It is a common state of man with envy on one side and abuse of power at polar opposites but working as social catalysts. . Thou shalt not covet……Why make a rule if it didn’t exist.

  • $8194357

    Its what we do…………


    I am now passing this on for you to watch. It’s not just enjoyable, it is riveting! If you are a veteran, I say thank you, for everything!

    When you are done pass it on to others. I think it’s important. Take the time for this one. You won’t be disappointed.


  • chris

    Actually we are both individuals and groups. That is why the only system that works is one with both a free market and government protections. People who only see in black and white will never understand the real complexities of the world.

    • Mike

      Government protection of whom for whom by whom and why?

      • chris

        Well, I’m talking about protection for those people who are disadvantaged by those who have an unfair advantage. For example, people who are disabled and have nobody to depend on need special care and assistance. Another example are factory workers, who need a guarantee that their working environment are not hazardous. I can list off hundreds of other examples, but I’m hoping that you get the point.

        I do not agree with Social Darwinists who believe that disadvantaged people deserve to rot away so that the strong can survive and prosper. Ann Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche be damned.


        • Mike

          You may be right. Is it the government’s job? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly every American, regardless of ability needs equal protection, but to create a special class of individuals to receive “special” protection that is not afforded to others is not right.
          Is it YOUR job to provide for, support, protect those who are disabled and have no one to depend on? Definitely!! “In as much as you’ve done it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”

          • chris

            “You may be right. Is it the government’s job? ”

            It’s both the government’s job and society’s job. Both have benefits and shortfalls, and they tend to complement each other when done right.

            “to create a special class of individuals to receive “special” protection that is not afforded to others is not right. ”

            People who are especially disadvantaged should receive special protections. Children are one such group, and they indeed enjoy special protections that adults don’t get.

          • Mike

            I see your point, but this opens the abuse of definition. Who defines those people whom you label as “disadvantaged?”
            Children are NOT disadvantaged. They are weak, they are defenseless and society works to protect them. Indeed government may endorse and agree with a mutual system of protection. This is true for any civil society.
            However, once it becomes the government’s job to define who is “disadvantaged,” the government then can take from the advantaged to “protect” the disadvantaged. If the government determines all white males over 40 are a new disadvantaged class, then all white females over 40, and everyone else is required by the government to protect and support this newly-defined group of “disavantaged.”
            That’s why it is NOT the government’s job.

          • Mike

            Quote: “Gender, race, social status, age, sexual orientation and physical
            abilities do not increase or decrease your value. Your greatest value
            is because you are you.”

          • Mike

            me vs. Stephen Hawking. Who is the disadvantaged one?

          • Mike

            Bottom line: It is NOT government’s job to define and then set up programs to level the playing field for “disadvantaged.”

            That is and MUST be the community’s job — family, neighbors, church, etc. Who took care of the elderly and the disabled before the government made it part of its own your tax-supported business?

            It is NOT the government’s job! It is YOUR job and MINE!

          • chris

            Fine, go back to your tea party talking points. But just understand that your “nostalgic” fantasy of the past is mostly just smoke and mirrors. Back then, blacks weren’t human, women were confined to the kitchen and bedroom, and child abuse was rampant. The truly disadvantaged, like the disabled, never had long to live.

            If you want to go back to those days, then count me out.

          • Mike

            ah-ha. Labeling. Grouping. You’ve clearly demonstrated my point for me. Thank you.

            As far as I know, I’ve never read a Tea Party talking point.
            Blacks were elevated in American society thanks to people such as Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King jr, not the government.
            Women were never confined to the kitchen any more than men were confined to the factory.
            Child abuse has never been more rampant than it is today.

          • chris

            Tea party talking point = government is bad. If I’ve mistaken, please correct me.

            Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King were the catalysts that resulted in legislation that outlawed segregation. Without the essential anti-segregation laws, it would still exist in parts of the country, and therefore the efforts of these people would have been in vain.

            Men were never “confined to the factory”. They were presidents, CEOs, generals, and basically everything else. It took legislation like Employment Protection Act to allow women to start taking “men’s” jobs.

            It only seems like child abuse is more rampant today because there is more awareness of it. However, back then, beatings and whippings were not only accepted, but they weren’t even considered child abuse. It was ok to take a tree branch and swell up the back of your 5-year-old. Reports of child molestations didn’t start coming out until the last few decades, because before it was considered taboo to even talk about. Thanks to legislation, there is a consequence for scaring up your or other children.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Tea party talking point = government is bad. If I’ve mistaken, please correct me.

            You’ve mistaken. Tea parties are not anarchist.

            It would be more accurate, if we’re going to boil it down to a phrase, if you said “government is too large.”

          • chris

            Tell me one piece of governmental legislation the Tea Party supports.

          • Onslaught1066
          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            “Governmental legislation” huh?


            Well sure. I think about 90% of the tea party would support appropriations to maintain a military to support the country.

            There’s one.

          • Mike

            Chris, I’ve enjoyed this thought-provoking exchange, but in my humble opinion, it seems you have too high an estimate of government’s benevolence and too low an estimate of mankind’s power.

          • chris

            I like how you don’t even attempt to respond to 90% of my arguments, but simply fall back to your main talking points. I don’t believe the government has the answer to everything, but I also don’t believe it’s the cause of every problem. There have been many good laws but also very bad ones. The government, just like with any tool, needs to be used correctly, and it has it’s limits. I wholly reject your assessment that we should be rolling back government legislation of the past 100 years and go back to living in little houses on the prairie. Excuse my labeling, but you seem to hold to a very reactionary political view, intent on going back to some nostalgic fantasy past where everything was better.

          • Mike

            You are attributing to me statements that I did not make, not beliefs I do not believe.

          • Mike

            Chris — what do you think of this site? It proposes to do exactly what I wrote that conservatives disagree with. Do you agree with this site?


          • chris

            I pretty much agree with the site, although I haven’t read the whole thing. The country as a whole prospers when we have a strong middle class, and it suffers when we don’t. This is not to say we shouldn’t have rich people, but rather the rich shouldn’t hold a monopoly over money and power while everybody else stays unjustly poor and powerless.

          • borborygmi

            quantum physics or politics?

          • chris

            To say that government shouldn’t be involved because there is potential of abuse is really a folly argument. There is always a potential of government abuse in anything it does, and at the same time there is always a potential of abuse by private individuals and corporations. This is why we have checks and balances. To protect from abuse by corporations and individuals, we have government protections, and to protect from abuse by the government, we have elections, protests, etc.

            Regarding the definition of “disadvantaged”, there are some people who clearly fall in that category, like the elderly and disabled. However there are others who might be on the grey line, and it’s a matter of situation and even opinion whether they need special protections, such as “marginalized” people like minorities, the impoverished, and women. I believe the civil rights acts were necessary to protect these groups from unfair marginalization. Consider the Employment Protection Act, where it’s unlawful to not hire someone based on their race, sex, religion, etc.