Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Is A "Conservative"

I think conservatism has lost its luster due to poor policies by so called conservatives and lack of a good defense by real conservatives. It is time we brought some definition to the brand.
This will be long but worthy of your time. If we are going to reclaim America we better know where we stand and who we are.

The definition of “conservative”
By Steven J Allen

I am often asked what I mean by “a conservative.”
It’s difficult to define membership in a group that makes up over half the adult population of the United States. But here’s my best effort.

* A conservative believes in the motto quoted by Henry David Thoreau, “That government is best which governs least.” A conservative’s vision of government was put forth by Thomas Jefferson: “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another [and] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”

* A conservative believes that individuals and families are the basic units of society, and that anti-family policies (such as the current ultra-high tax rates on working families) should be ended.

* A conservative believes that, however unattainable the goal of moral perfection, people should strive to put morality and their families ahead of other concerns in their lives.

* A conservative has compassion for the poor and opposes policies, such as those based on socialism and on opposition to new technology, that cause or extend poverty.

* A conservative believes in the free trade of goods and services, but rejects the mercantilism (“welfare for corporations”) that masquerades as free trade.

* A conservative believes that great weight should be put on the wisdom expressed in the founding documents of Western civilization and American society, including the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution with its Bill of Rights.

* A conservative believes in the Rule of Law – that a law means what it says, as the language of the law was understood when the law was written. A conservative rejects the idea of a Living Constitution, under which lawyers and judges can change laws by undemocratic means. If judges are allowed such power, Jefferson noted, the U.S. Constitution “is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

* A conservative believes that public policy should encourage advancement based on ability and achievement, not on membership in an actual or concocted group.

* A conservative understands that “the public interest,” as determined by governing elites, is not the public interest – that, not surprisingly, it represents the interests of the governing elites.

* A conservative has respect for those who have made sacrifices in the cause of freedom, and for those who put their lives in peril to protect others. A conservative has respect for people who work hard and play by the rules.

* A conservative believes that military force should be used with care, in limited circumstances in which the cause of freedom and the just interests of the United States are at stake. A conservative believes that government officials should not put American servicemen and servicewomen in harm’s way without giving them a clearly-defined mission and the resources they need for victory.

* A conservative believes that the United States should avoid entangling alliances and the trappings of empire.

* A conservative has compassion for the oppressed and seeks peacefully to free them from oppression.

* A conservative believes that people have the right to protect their families and businesses from criminals.

* A conservative sees the United States of America as a special place because of its history as a beacon for freedom-loving people from around the world. A conservative believes the United States is blessed by the presence of people from countless nations and cultures when those people are hard-working, law-abiding, and eager to interact with other Americans through a shared language.

* A conservative believes that people should be treated fairly – that, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., they should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” – and that racism, anti-Semitism, ridicule of groups such as Southerners and rural people, hatred of Christians (or particular groups of Christians), and other forms of bigotry are unacceptable. A conservative rejects the false classification of human beings into discrete groups called “races,” whether such racism is motivated by fantasies of racial supremacy or of permanent racial grievance. A conservative considers policies based on “race” to be unethical and immoral.

* A conservative rejects the worship of government power that is reflected in such fascist ideologies as communism, national socialism (Nazism), and theocracy. A conservative believes that communists, national socialists, theocrats, racists, and other advocates of oppression and hate should be ostracized.

* A conservative abhors violence and rejects the initiation of force in settling political disputes.

* A conservative is part of the majority that voted against Clintonism (corruption in the name of liberalism) in 1992 and 1996. A conservative is one of those who, in the congressional elections of 1994-2004, voted Republican in the belief that they were voting against Big Government corruption.

* A conservative identifies with the political movement led in the 1960s by supporters of Barry Goldwater, in the late ’70s and in the ’80s by Ronald Reagan and his supporters, and in the early ’90s by the framers of and advocates for the Contract with America.

A person does not have to adhere to a strict set of political principles to meet my definition of conservative. One of the characteristics I associate with true conservatives is that they believe in free argument and debate, not unthinking uniformity of opinion.

“Political correctness” is for liberals. Indeed, the term “politically correct” was first used, without irony, by Marxists.

No two people agree on everything, and no two conservatives agree on 100% of the issues. As a political movement, conservatism is broad enough to include several types of person:

* Libertarian conservatives seek to reduce the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government. They say to bureaucrats and politicians: “Leave us alone!” and “Mind your own business!” Libertarians proudly refuse to recognize political reality. But, within the ranks of conservatives, libertarianism serves a necessary and critical function: it is the brake in the train of conservatism. By libertarian conservative standards, every proposal must be measured as to whether it will ultimately strengthen or weaken Big Government. Ronald Reagan referred to libertarianism as “the heart of conservatism.”

* Traditionalist conservatives (including “religious conservatives”) seek to preserve traditional values and traditional culture, and emphasize the importance of morality and religious faith. Most traditionalist conservatives are regularly involved in religious activities. Often, traditionalist conservatives are Southern Baptists, or are among the Catholics who were most favorable to Pope John Paul II, or are orthodox Jews, or Mormons, or belong to some other religious denomination that emphasizes tradition and family life. But they can be of any religious view. Traditionalist conservatives stand in opposition to secularist extremists, who seek to erase every public reference to religious views other than their own, and to Radical Religious Left organizations such as the National Council of Churches, which seek to use the power of government to impose their religious views on society.

* Neoconservatives are often former liberals and democratic socialists who have acknowledged the failure of liberalism and socialism to solve society’s problems, in the sense of the old saying, “A neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.” Most older neoconservatives are former members of the branch of liberalism and democratic socialism associated with New York intellectuals; they rebelled against policies that condoned or promoted Communism. Neoconservatives tend to emphasize scientific analysis of the success or failure of government programs – for example, by statistical studies of whether “welfare,” “affirmative action” discrimination, broad restrictions on gun ownership, and other policies actually improve the lives of the people they are supposed to help. They believe the U.S. should play a leading role in world affairs, especially in defense of beleaguered democracies such as Israel. They favor strong action to promote the spread of democracy in the world, noting that constitutional democracies rarely – or, by some measures, never – fight wars against each other. (In recent years, many critics of the Bush Administration have used the term “neoconservative” to refer to anyone who supported the Iraq War and related endeavors.)

* Populist conservatives believe that grassroots citizens, not the political or cultural elite, should have the most influence in the halls of power. This view was reflected in William F. Buckley Jr.’s remark that he would rather be governed by the first 300 people in the Boston telephone book than by the faculty at Harvard. Populist conservatives, who usually have backgrounds in poor and middle class families, are among the most avid students of public affairs, as is reflected in the public response to populist-oriented media such as Fox News and political talk radio. Populist conservatives are especially skeptical of policies favored by pseudo-intellectuals and by elites in Washington and Hollywood.

* Dynamic conservatives believe that economic growth and economic opportunity (the chance to improve one’s station in life) are keys to solving many of society’s problems. Associated with supply-side economics, they emphasize the need to cut taxes, and they emphasize the liberating aspects of new technology such as computers and the Internet. Though this group is small compared to other types of conservatives, it is highly influential because of its ability to engage in the rapid spread of information and ideas.

There are people who aren’t so deeply involved in politics that they can identify with one of the groups listed above. They just know what they believe is right, and they think conservatives best represent that point of view.

On many issues, from military intervention to immigration policy, there is disagreement among conservatives. That’s why it is important that conservatives argue and debate the issues among themselves, not just with our adversaries.

Ultimately, a conservative is someone who fits reasonably well into one or more of these groups, and who feels comfortable working in coalition with others who are called conservative.

What is a Conservative
by Lyn Nofgizer

"Allowing for differences I would define a conservative, first as one who believes in the Constitution as it is written. That takes care of free speech, freedom of religion, the right to petition the government, the right to keep and bear arms and, in the words of William O. Douglas in one of his saner moments, 'the right to be let alone.'

"Second, a conservative believes in small, limited government at every level. Along with this he believes strongly in individual responsibility. That is, a person or a family should take care of itself and turn for help to government only when all other means have been exhausted. It also means that society, before government, has a duty to take care of its own. Government should be a resource of last resort.

"Third, a conservative believes taxes should be levied for the purpose of financing the limited responsibilities of government such as providing for the common defense, catching and incarcerating criminals, minting money and filling potholes. Taxes should not be levied for the purpose of redistributing wealth.

"That's about it.

"I know there are those who say a conservative should be pro-life, which I am, but I'm not sure a person has to be that to qualify as a conservative. Nor am I sure that a person must be opposed to pornography, which I am. In both cases there are questions of individual rights and responsibilities which are arguable.

"One other thing I think a conservative believes is that the parents, not government, are and should be responsible for the upbringing and behavior of their children.

These two writings clearly bring forward the conservative and the value that has been lost by those who claim the name but fail to practice the art. Washington DC is littered with those who have small parts but claim to be wholly conservative when they are not. This has bastardized conservatism and is tearing away the fabric of America.
I suggest reading these through a few times. A solid position is much harder to argue from then one that weaves and bobs. America can be won again because these are the values we are looking for. Unless you can clearly define those values you will never stand out. We need to raise up leaders who clearly are conservative and know what that means.

More great reading on defining Conservative:

The Definition of Conservative

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Blogger My Blog said...


5:27 AM, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous JMB said...

Good job on this one Ablur.
I looked intently for something to be here, that I might disagree with, but no such luck!

6:05 AM, February 28, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...

I read a lot of sites attempting to define a conservative. There are quite a few sites on the net, but most have a liberal bent to a conservative definition. I found three that I really liked. The last one has a no copy clause so I left a link to it.

I think knowing and understanding who we are and what we stand for will help unify and build strength in our cause. I also think that being conservative we have many things that can draw others to our side. Having a clear and concise definition will allow us to do just that.

9:35 AM, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the bipartisan system of politics is a huge part of the it possible that the whole idea of "labeling" is also a part of the problem? How about not just either a 'liberal' or a 'conservative' and the definitions that people put on these terms, but instead an 'American' that can truly endorse the basic founding principles of America: freedom of belief. Let's just make this work, all of us, together.
ps. please no more name calling; bloggers are the worst at this, it sometimes feels like schoolyard chanting.

7:54 PM, March 13, 2009  

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