What is Conservatism?

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by pro2A, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. pro2A

    pro2A Hell, It's about time!

    There is a pretty good debate going on right now about what conservatism is.

    I have reiterated this many times, but Conservatism is about personal responsibility, little government and personal freedom, liberty, life and property. There are a lot of misconceptions about conservatism.

    For example we are callous and only care about ourselves. That we want anarchy etc... these claims are not true in the least bit.

    This guy explains it pretty well...

    YouTube - What is Conservatism?

    MenInTights likes this.

  2. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    I think you are using a too narrow definition here. I'd say what you say defines "conservatism" is more a definition of libertarianism. And while it's true that in the Republican Party, there is a libertarian wing, there are also other wings which call themselves "conservative", but emphasize other values.

    Also, the term "conservatism" is not equivalent to "member of the Republican Party". Conservatism in general means "interested in preserving the status quo" (Latin: "conservare" = "preserving", "maintaining"), and thus meant and still means very different things through history and in other countries.

    At the time of the American Revolution and War of Independence, it was progressive and revolutionary to stand for liberty, personal freedom and small government, while it was conservative (in the general meaning of the word) to cling to the British monarchy. Prior to the Civil War, it was progressive to support the end of slavery, but "conservative" to support slavery. Today, of course, it's no longer conservative to support slavery or monarchy in America. But in Britain, for example, it's still conservative to support monarchy.

    The Republican Party has different wings. Besides the libertarian wing you mentioned, there is, for example, also a strong Christian wing. They don't emphasize personal freedom, but tradition and traditional values, even when they get in conflict with personal freedom (for example, they oppose gay rights based on Christian values, which is a restriction of personal freedom). Many Christian conservatives also have no problem with a big state, as long as the state money serves the end of supporting Christian values (think of "compassionate conservatism"). There also is the Neoconservative wing, which is not in favor of small government, but instead supports big government, especially on the field of military and security.

    In general, you could say conservatism usually is defined by strong support of tradition and traditional values, often Christian values, including respect for authority. Conservatives emphasize the importance of "law and order", much more than libertarians or liberals. And they are very wary of progressive attempts at changing the status quo -- be it on the field of civil rights or economics.

    The Bush government, for example, was strongly influenced by the Christian and Neoconservative wing of the Republican Party and hardly at all by the libertarian wing. Under Bush's rule, the state was expanded more than under any other government since LBJ, the public dept rose to new highs hardly ever seen before, and many government programs were stared ("No Child Left Behind", various funding for Christian organizations, an extreme increase of the military). Also, never before, personal freedom was restricted as much as under Bush's "Patriot Act".

    Bush was not a conservative by the definition you used at all.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  3. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    That was a great video. I have never really made the connection between small towns and conservatives, but that's a great point. That's makes so much sense on so many levels. As soon as you get to the city level, tax money moves away from being my neighbor's sweat and hard work to some tree that money grows on.
    I'm glad that liberals are saying what we've said for 4 years. Bush was not a conservative. He talked a good conservative game in 2000 and 2004, but he never really acted on it. True conservatives (Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan for example) are hard to find because the end result of their quest for power and political office is to diminish that power. Once Reagan got the power of the office, he used that power to dismantle every department except Department of Defense. That's a rare trait for a politician.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
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  4. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    "Conservatives" in modern America tend to be economic liberals and social conservatives, which is to say they support less government intervention in the economy, but tend to think the government should censor or ban recreational drugs, prostitution, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, gay marriage, and pornography. Furthermore, they tend to favor policies that help promote Christianity and traditional values, they support the death penalty, are opposed to gun control, are less friendly towards science than liberals, and are more likely to support the censorship of art, entertainment, and literature than liberals. Lastly, they tend to support a more aggressive approach to foreign policy than liberals.

    "Conservatives" in general, tend to support the status quo or else that of some bygone era. They're just big on tradition, basically.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2009
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  5. gusto

    gusto Registered Member

    There are some interesting ideas here but I think that the comments are too reflective of America when if fact conservativtism is a worldwide concept. It truly does not even exist any more in the western democracies because it is a very narrow ideology that would never win over enough people to win an election. The present government of Canada is said to be "Very conservative" However we still have welfare, employment insurance, socialized healthcare, old age pensions, generous child credits and a whole host of other social programs that would be anathema to a true "conservative". This same state of affairs exists in the USA so what is a conservative in the USA today? It's some one who sees the old established order both in power and influence threatened by a multi cultural liberal and free society. That is why with out exception they are opposed to any and all reforms that would impower those that are not of their class and position. They also want to preserve the USA as the foremost military power on the earth willing to conduct American foreign policy in the unilateral might makes right way that they have been doing for the last 60 years. Obama threatens them with his let's talk to our adversaries and see if we can work thing out. This is not a conservative idea. As Macain said,"bomb bomb, bomb bomb, Iran. He said Afterwards that "it was a joke" but it was no joke, that's the way the right thinks.
    Conservative movements all over the world have always had a "nationalism" or a nationalistic spirit at their core. This persents a very big and insolvable problem for the American right. There was a time in the USA when enough of the population was white European decent that this nationalism could be used to gain power by promising to maintain this racial order of things in the country.
    The present demographics are such that this constituency is rapidly shrinking and they are not going to attract the multi cultural voters to their cause of maintaining the status quo.
    They will have to do what the Canadian Cons. have done and become just another liberal party that is just a bit more cautious. If they don't change they are dead meat in the new USA where too many people know what their real agenda is.
  6. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    Well, at least Bush is not a conservative by the definition pro2A presented above, not a libertarian conservative like Reagan or Goldwater. But there are reasons to say he was a "conservative" after all -- Neocons and theocons are conservatives too, after all, just different branches within all conservatives who don't meet pro's definition. Certainly, they are not liberals or libertarians.

    Interesting enough, Neoconservatives are not small-government at all and have their roots in a left-leaning movement that can even be traced back to Trotzkist communists in the 1930s and 40s.

    If you follow the arguments by the libertarian movement, which usually sympathizes with Reagan and Goldwater, you will see many libertarians have big troubles with the rise of Neocons and theocons within the Republican Party, to the degree some of them demand a realignment with the Democratic Party, because they strongly disagree with the anti-personal freedom stances of the theocons, the interventionist and militaristic stances of the Neocons and the big-government stances of both.
  7. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    I understand exactly what you're talking about. And I know that Prescott Bush (neocon) is tied into some shady fellows, but I really haven't taken the time to investigate it. It just doesn't matter to me. This is the reason why the Republican party is so fractured now. On the libertarian side are leaders such as Ron Paul, Mark Stanford, Glenn Beck and to a lessor extent Rush Limbaugh and the Neocon side has John McCain, Colin Powell and a lot of the Senate and House. Those 2 divisions hate each other. So much so that many of us libertarians have just left. I'll never give money to the party again. To individuals yes, but party no.

    If I had to guess the future of the libertarian wing (who I call the conservatives), I think we have to extend an olive branch to libertarian minded members of the Democrat party in order to create a political force. Personally, I would vote for any party that supports my core belief of smaller federal government and more state's rights. If to get that we had to create a platform that supports legalized drugs and some other libertarian-Democrat policies, that's completely cool.

    And just as an aside. I liked a lot of what Bush did. I'm not a Bush hater by any means. But, my moment of clarity with Bush not being a true Conservative started in 2003. Bush had made oil security an issue in 2000 and he finally got the House and Senate on his side on '03. So, we all thought that this was it. Finally ANWR would open, we would explore more shale, etc.. Well, nothing happened. I don't ever remember Bush giving an energy speech during those years. Because, as we found out a few years ago, oil companies make a lot more money when the demand and supply is stressed than when we are at full supply. Regan crashed the price of oil during his 2 terms, Bush more than tripled it. What a politician's attitude on oil is tells you a lot about his philosophy. Bush had 2 years between 2002-2004 to get what he wanted on oil and he did nothing.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009

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