Of course, different people have different definitions of it. With all the talk about finding a “conservative” candidate in 2012 and one who will represent our “conservative” values, I started thinking about what conservatism actually is. Do most folks know the meaning of it, or is it simply a word used to echo thoughts that they themselves have yet to fully grasp?
I believe that conservatism has many different branches. The first is the fear of God. This is not meant as “Christianity” or pushing a religion at you; it’s meant by the fact that every one of our Founders had a fear (or respect) of God, whether they actually believed in Him or not (our Founders had very different faiths and they all respected one another). Basically, this fear of God means the opposite of a faithless society in which anything goes. It means having morals that actually play a part in our lives. Fear of God means respect of others’ religions, since that is in our Bill of Rights (1st Amendment, in fact– must mean it’s pretty important). This constant “war on religion” by the current administration is in direct conflict with this fundamental belief of conservatism, which is a large reason for the strong opposition to the actions that demonstrate that war. This branch of conservatism does not mean you are “forced” to believe in God; it simply means that you respect the people who do and do not try to convince them otherwise. Conservatism believes that we were founded as a God-fearing country and should remain that way.
Smaller government is a huge issue for conservatism. The central government’s sole purpose was to protect the United States from threats abroad; after that, Constitutionally, its duties end. The TEA Party is a perfect example of conservatism. The “Taxed Enough Already” Party is fed up with the ever-increasing size of government and seek to end that growth. Though the movement has declined a bit since its peak in the 2010 midterm election, it is not gone. There are still evidences of it in many areas of government; the fact that so many TEA Party conservatives were elected to Congress in 2010 lend credence to the fact that it isn’t going to disappear fast. Smaller government is the root of this branch; when the government reaches too far into our lives, it will never remove itself. This is why ObamaCare is such an important issue; once the government controls your healthcare, they will have an easy way into your diet, transportation, education, and more. That’s not to say that they aren’t already overstepping their boundaries in those areas, but it will only get worse if ObamaCare is instituted.
What is conservatism? Like I said, answers vary. There are many foundational principles to it that I didn’t highlight above; I only chose a few. I’ll be continuing to blog about conservatism in the coming days, highlighting the rest of the fundamentals that weren’t yet mentioned. Comment with your personal views of conservatism and what it is; I would love to hear what you think about it!