Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[politics] What does it mean to be a conservative? (Special snark-free edition.)

sheelangig asked recently in comments:

Okay, I've googled around, and read a few things, and now I'd like to know; what ARE conservative principles? This is a genuine question, I presume they must exist, I just cannot extrapolate them from the behaviors I see on the news. I realize I'm biased, so somebody help me out here?

Without snark, here's my understanding of conservative principles, in no particular order of priority.

  • Fiscal responsibility in maintaining responsible budgets and reducing person and business tax burden

  • Smaller government ("That government governs best which governs least.")

  • Privatization of many government functions to allow the efficiency of market forces to manage costs and improve delivery quality

  • Business friendly tax and economic policy with the intention of spurring growth and job development

  • Strong foreign policy relying on a combination of diplomacy and military strength without becoming directly involved in nation building or the internal affairs of others — "muscularism"

  • States' rights taking priority over Federalism

  • Narrow (or strict) adherence to Constitutional principles and the rule of law, specifically including strong support for 2nd Amendment rights

  • Strong law enforcement

  • Ethics in government and private life

  • No "social engineering" of family and personal life through government intervention

  • Individual rights taking priority over government intervention in private life

I've probably left off some important stuff, but that's my broad, net understanding of what it means to be a conservative. Feel free to correct me in comments, from any political angle.

I might turn the snark machine back on tomorrow and point out where I think the contemporary conservative movement has gone badly astray of my understanding of its principles, but that seems sort of like shooting fish in a barrel. Leaving aside specific complaints about the current leadership, I will say that neither the NeoCons nor the Dominionists have done their conservative brethren any favors at all in terms of how they've distorted the Republican Party's words and deeds.
Tags: politics

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