Over the past couple of decades, it’s become painfully obvious that despite all the books we’ve sold and conferences we’ve sold out, most Americans still cannot define what “conservatism” actually is.
Case in point, I was on CSPAN for an hour prior to the election, and an articulate and intelligent caller said he’d never heard someone talk like me before about the issues facing the country. So he asked me why I’m a conservative.
Here is the answer I gave him:
I’m a conservative because I believe in conserving things. Those things that have proven throughout history to be what’s best for the human condition this side of eternity. Those things which are based in the ‘Laws of Nature and Nature’s God’ as our founding document puts it. The Declaration of Independence, which is the mission statement for America. And these things are what’s best for all of us regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, because we’re all made in the image of the same God — from whom our rights come
However, over the past couple
Conservatism is not a smorgasbord with an a la carte menu, where we can pick and choose the things we like and then indulge away. It’s an all-encompassing worldview that sees history holistically, because people are holistic as well. We are body, mind, and soul — not naturalistic accidents or a random set of impulses.
Of course, in any given era conservatism can be applied selectively based on the priorities of the time. For example, Reagan is considered by many our greatest conservative president despite his 1986 amnesty that backfired, or the massive deficits he ran up at the time (with plenty of help from the Democrats in Congress).
However, the existential crisis facing the country at the time was the Soviet Union. An “evil empire” that every day for a generation threatened to undo our way of life, and therefore make our domestic disputes irrelevant if they were successful. Reagan’s leadership played a vital role in tearing down that Red Curtain, thus conserving our way of life. And for that he unquestionably is a conservative hero.
Therefore, it is healthy and productive for our movement to debate and discuss with one another the most prudent way to apply what we believe. On such matters, reasonable and principled people may disagree and do so vehemently, even.
But what is not healthy or productive for our movement is to not agree on what we believe or to not even know. In fact, if that’s where we are, then we’re really not a movement at all.
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