Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Misnomer of Conservatism

by Bruce Walker - February 23, 2008 - The American Thinker

As we "conservatives" thrash about trying to find who is a real conservative, we should also seek to find what we mean by conservative. Conservatism, supposedly, is like a stool with three legs: Fiscal, Social, and National Security. Those three concerns are what identify those of us on the "Right." Yet those of us who call ourselves conservatives see the silliness of that definition. If there were no national security threat, would those "National Security" conservatives cease to be conservative? No, of course not. If the national debt and entitlements were not obscenely vast, would those "Fiscal" conservatives cease to be conservative? Again, no. If Roe v. Wade were overruled and Americans began returning to churches and synagogues, would "Social" conservatives whither away? The very question seems absurd.

Why, then, do we have so many problems identifying what conservatism is in American politics? There is an easy, though not simple, answer to that question: What we have come to call "conservative" or the Right is a group of principles whose definitional names have been invented by those who hate those principles.

When Skip Stamm came to the Al-Pam Conservative Club meeting in Elizabeth City last year he brought with him a test that was supposedly able to identify which political label applied to someone. What was really interesting was the amazing results of the test that night, typical of most groups. People who had absolutely opposite opinions on some issue were given the exact same label. People who agreed on more than 70% of the issues would be labeled completely different.

The test dramatized two things.

1. The popular groupings (which are the subject of the article above) are highly suspect overall and do not provide a reliable way to classify people.

2. We need to be more sensitive to someone's overall view of issues and not let one or two issues define them.

The Democrat Party and the Republican Party have two different world views. They are differentiated by our appreciation of freedom for others. If you accept that everyone else should be allowed freedom to do as they wish as long as they don't harm another, you are a conservative. If you think that no one should be allowed more freedom (or success) than another, you are a liberal.


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