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What Exactly Is A Conservative?

Written by | March 25th, 2011

For many years, and particularly over the last few years, we hear the term Conservative, used, generally, to describe the political right, in The United States; but, can such an ambiguous word be used to accurately describe the political right? Are all said Conservatives indeed to the political right?

According to the Founders of The United States, the further left, is the addition of more Government, and the further right, was less Government. Therefore, the furthest left would be, rightly called, tyranny; with the furthest right, anarchy. (ref.) It is said that the majority of Americans are center-right, which, in my humble opinion, would accurately describe where our Founders positioned us, Constitutionally, in 1787.

If we were to sub-divide the word, Conservative, we could begin to really start breaking it into many different sub-categories; to name a few: Social Conservatives, Christian Conservatives, Political Conservatives, and Constitutional Conservatives.

Unfortunately, and perhaps, naturally, I suppose there is a general hypocrisy in most politics, in all countries; but, in The United States, it really does seem that most people, in some way or another, wants our Federal Government to be limited; in other words, less intrusive in certain areas of our lives. On the other hand, while most people want a Limited Government in some areas, they still want The Federal Government to intervene in other areas of our lives. This thinking is not only arbitrary among different groups of constituents, but, it lacks any sort of cohesion upon which we can have a Federal Government that is fair, just, limited, and operates with any sort of real continuity.

Allow me to elaborate:

Social, and Christian, Conservatives:

Social, and Christian, Conservatives, I believe, are well-intended people; they have a vision in their mind of what the entire United States should look like, and they often lobby The Federal Government to pass certain laws that would apply to the entire country. But, even with the best intentions, should people really be asking for such things from our Federal Government? Or, worse, should our Federal Government even oblige such requests? Well, since The Constitution of The United States is the document upon which all laws are suppose to stem from; and, since our Congress was given 16 very specific, and Enumerated Powers – then, absent of any such Enumerated Power, naturally, that would lead me to The 10th Amendment of The Constitution, which says:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Therefore, the simple answer is, no! Even with the best of intentions, no one in the Federal Government has the lawful, or moral, authority, to decide what is best for all 50 states in The United States, unless they have been given explicit authority by The Constitution. And, irregardless of what their constituents may demand!

Political Conservatives:

This is a group that really confuses me:
Many people say they are political Conservatives, but, they often don’t define what they mean, nor are they asked to specifically define it. Just like any other group, faction, or party, I think Political Conservatives have some platform in mind – which is based off of Ronald Reagan’s (who I do admire in many ways) Presidency, and some other factors that arose from the modern Conservative movement, with William Buckley (who I also admire for several reasons) and some others. But, so often, when I hear several of the people in this group talk, or read what they write, I ask, where is that in The Constitution? If this were truly Conservative, wouldn’t it align with our Constitution? With this group, I find that I often agree in principle, but, many times, not in practice. And, this is the group that often gets the label neo-con, or neo-conservative, assigned to them. This group claims to be fiscally Conservative, and for Limited Government, but they don’t seem to quite put together that perpetual, and non-explicitly-defensive, war, is very costly; many of our fellow citizens die; the Federal bureaucracy grows; and, as a result, our Liberties shrink.

Constitutional Conservatives:

This is the group of Americans that I mostly identify with:
This group tends to be less, or non-partisan; their only desire is to best understand our original intents Constitution, including any subsequent Amendments; then they try to elect people to The Federal Government who will be most diligent to this great document. It is hard for many people to refute that our Founders created a nearly perfect formula, as evidenced by the prosperity of The United States, over the years; the fact that many countries since have somewhat modeled our Constitution. And, to date, our Constitution is the longest existing Constitution in the world! Which speaks volumes to the amazing work of our Founders.

Libertarians and Tea Partiers:

There is also The Libertarian Party that sprung up in 1971, after being disappointed with The Nixon Administration; and, similarly, The Tea Party, which sprung up out of disappointment with The George W. Bush Administration; which has extended to The Obama Administration. My values tend to align well with the values of The Libertarian and Tea Parties; as I find their core beliefs to be grounded in our Founding values, and very closely aligned to our Constitution; with the goal being, maximum individual liberties, and limited Government!

The interesting thing with all of the aforementioned groups, is, all of us tend to share many common values: We all tend to be patriotic; we all tend to have a real admiration for our Founders, and all that they accomplished, and passed onto us; we all tend to have a lot of admiration for our servicemen and women; and, on and on. All these factions combined, makes up a great majority of the population in America; and, at the heart of our ideology, we really do, generally-speaking, have the same idea of which direction we would like our country to go in. But, unfortunately, the way we get there is not always the same, and, often, very divisive.

I have said this many times, over the last three years, but it is worth repeating:
The common-denominator for all Conservatives, should be, The Tenth Amendment! It is absolutely fine having different social, economic, and religious views – These are virtues which have made us such an exceptional country. However, it should be imperative that we demand for The Federal Government to shrink back into The Limited Powers they were given, so that we can go back to reclaiming our Liberties inside of our respective states; without worrying what laws will be passed Federally, that will further strip away our individual liberties, as a nation. I have no doubt- especially with the inception of social media, that if one state has a great idea, it will surely take hold in the other states. We simply do not need, nor should we expect, anything from the Federal Government, outside of the powers they were given by our Founders. And, let’s face it: had The Federal Government remained diligent to those powers, over the years, we likely, on a Federal-level, would not be in the financial mess we are in, today!

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6 thoughts on “What Exactly Is A Conservative?

  1. Jeff Minor

    “My values tend to align well with the values of The Libertarian and Tea Parties; as I find their core beliefs to be the most grounded in our Founding values, and most closely aligned to our Constitution; with the goal being, maximum individual liberties, and limited Government!”

    Exactly. There is a pathology of need in this country. We need to repeal the 17th amendment and make Senators accountable to their state legislatures. The 17th takes power away from the state.

  2. kevinbsnyder

    It is a very good article Mark. I am fairly libertarian. I do think under the bill of rights that the federal government has the duty to protect all life. Including the unborn. I know some conservatives and libertarians disagree with that however those rights are being denied to the unborn. I am certainly not part of the religious right but I do see a moral issue here that is imperative. Of course “Life, Liberty and Happiness” is also mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. So if an unborn child is alive, and a human being, then certainly those Constitutional protections would apply.

    Mostly I like to use “Left” or “Right” more then “conservative” and “liberal”. Seems the latter two are much more subjective while the former two are less so.

  3. Jackie Durkee

    Very good article and I don’t think there is anything I disagree with. As a Christian I also grapple with the whole abortion issue. On one hand, I think abortion is immoral and just think there should not be laws in the states allowing one person to kill another person. I feel the unborn children have those same rights. On the other hand, you are so right about Prohibition. Once you legalize something, it is so hard to make it illegal. So while I feel that it should be illegal, I don’t believe it ever will be.

    I also believe that the above article demonstrates why it appears that the Conservatives just don’t have their act together. It is like having 4 or 5 parties within a party.

  4. Bob Baker

    Nice piece Mark and on the mark, if you will pardon the intentional pun.

    I consider myself a Libertarian and a Conservative, but like you said, those are simply inadequate labels to describe people with varied interests. I too am Christian, but like you, feel the abortion issue should be left to the states. I have no interest in forcing my ideals on anyone else, but find myself carrying a terribly heavy burden of the cost of other people’s ideals that have been placed upon me, my children, and their children. I’ve noticed that when people say, “We should do something to help these people,” they usually mean rich people that make more money than us should do something. They don’t seem to understand that whatever charity they pass into law will be placed on their, and everyone else’s, backs, in perpetuity, while politician’s claim they have “done a great service for the underprivileged.”

    I see the one uniting issue for the Tea Party, Libertarians, and Conservatives being limited government. Of course people like me, over 55, have to be willing to give up some promised benefits from Medicare and social security, but if we don’t, it’s all coming down anyway. I’ve long been upset with the Republican party for adopting anti-abortion as a platform plank. I’m against it, but that doesn’t make it a political issue — it’s a moral issue. The deficit, and the Federal Reserve Corporation that manufactured the deficit, is a political issue, and one in which everyone should get involved.

    Our country’s best quality is the opportunity OFFERED by freedom, equal OPPORTUNITY for all, and EQUAL justice for all.

    We’ve got to reject the snake oil of socialism and the siren song of the Federal Reserve promising a free lunch.


  5. markross Post author

    ‎”If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.” – Governor Ronald Reagan (1975 interview with Reason Magazine)

    Further Reading:
    The very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism


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