Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake
jaylake

[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.
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