Why I’m A Conservative
By: Robert E. Meyer
The question of why someone should be a Conservative, is one that may be addressed in differing ways. Much is made out of the traditional dictionary definitions of what constitutes a Liberal or Conservative, but these types of discussions tend to obfuscate the real issue in dispute. So much of the current loathing over conservatives, is based on an entirely specious foundation as to what being conservative is all about. It might be better to start this discussion by defining just what conservatism is not.
First of all, a Conservative is not one who lacks compassion. A conservative sees compassion as doing what is in the best interest of the individual or corporate body at large, over the long haul. We know that if you give a man a fish he has food for a day, but teaching him how to fish, gives him food for a life time. Both teaching and giving have implications on what true compassion really is about. One who gives, but never instructs, fosters an ugly sort of dependence, which leaves the recipient in the lurch once the giving ends. The teacher, on the other hand, leaves a lasting empowerment and inspiration with his/her charges. Which then is greater compassion long term?
A Conservative believes that the best charity is a boost to someone who eventually won’t need that help, but that out of gratefulness, will render the same help to someone in his former position. A conservative doesn’t see charity as a life-long dependency on government agencies, or a new program from a politician who is investing in his perpetual incumbency–he instead calls this a condition of bondage.
A Conservative is not opposed to all taxation, but rather sees taxes as a necessary evil, and therefore wants to encourage only the level of taxation that will support the necessities of limited civil government. Tax policy shouldn’t be used as a means to punish economic social classes that have benefitted from the America Dream, nor as a wedge to promote envy, discontentment and coveting. Fiscal policies should be like tides that can raise all boats. Economic egalitarianism is an evil that creates more unfairness and disparity than it corrects. Some level of poverty will be with us always, and not everyone will achieve the same results, nor should we expect it to be so. Needs ought to be met through personal philanthropy and a conscience of obligation toward oneâ€™s fellow man, but not through state coercion.
Conservatives aren’t moral relativists. They find such a system of belief is self-contradictory. They thus believe in a transcendent truth and moral absolutes. They don’t confuse truth with opinion, and thus maintain a hierarchy of values and beliefs. They are not concerned so much with genuflecting to “your truth” and “my truth,” but rather discovering “the truth.” Hate and violence are not fostered by moral certitude, or by persons who believe that certain principles are transcendent and immutable, but rather by forgetting that all individuals are created in the image of God, thus they have inherent value.
Conservatives aren’t Neanderthals caught up in the past. They simply understand that approval of immorality isn’t tantamount to being “progressive.” Progress in technology doesn’t impact the principles that are at the foundations of traditional mores. Instead of “keeping up with the times,” the conservative asks whether the cultural paradigm is deviating from transcendent truth.
Conservatives do not revel in state hegemony, or believe government has all the answers, or that they should do everything. The government has a limited function to provide national defense, law enforcement, and enhance “general welfare” (not hand-outs, but universal rather than specific welfare). Conservatives believe the state shouldn’t do those things that ought to come from, the family, neighbors and friends, the church, public charity, or God.
Conservatives generally don’t see religious faith as a sham to control people, nor do they think that man created God, but rather that he is sovereign. They don’t try to claim, that God, out of necessity, is on their side. They pray for the wisdom, understanding and humility to be on God’s side–for God has preferences in the conduct of human affairs.
These are some of the reasons why I’m a Conservative.