Conservatism as Moral Imperative: Why am I Conservative?
In July of 2003, a group of Berkely researchers for the American Psychological Association did a study on what makes a Conservative. Rather unsurprisingly, after basing their “research” on the fairly specious definitions to be found in “fifty years of literature,” they basically decided that Conservatives are narrow-minded, bigoted fearmongers by nature or psychology. That Conservatism, in other words, was a pathology rather than a set of values.
I’m not going to spend this post dispelling the moronic notions put forth in this five-year-old study; if I recall it was fairly deftly dispatched at the time. But I did come upon this study again the other day, and it got me thinking: why am I conservative? What is it that makes being Conservative make so much sense to me?
It is that question I’ll try to answer.
I like to tell people I tried being a liberal once, while I was in college. I found out I felt neither guilty for my own position in life, nor entitled to anyone else’s. As glib as this is, there’s also a lot of truth to it — and it cuts to the heart of my position of Conservatism.
In contrast to the mainstream (and incorrect) view of Conservatism, I am not judgemental or pessimistic. I’m not wealthy by any financial standard. I’m not distrusting of, nor biased against, those of other races or genders. I’m also not a fan of NASCAR, just to eliminate all stereotypes.
Instead, I am something of an optimist. Although I usually consider myself a realist, the fact is, I believe the best is always possible. I’m quick to give my trust (though not as quick to give it back once I’ve been burned), and quick to believe in people. True to stereotype, I am an Evangelical Christian, which goes a long way to explain my concern and, yes, compassion, for my fellow man.
All these things are why I am a Conservative.
I believe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “A man is governed best who is governed least.” I believe man — every human, regardless of race, creed or sex, is capable of providing for himself without help from a government entity. Because of this, I believe every individual ought to be responsible for himself and his own family. Indeed, I believe we function at our best when we are unfettered by government intervention. I don’t believe a man ought to be given special dispensation because of race. Being black is not a handicap, and anyone who thinks it is, is a racist. The same goes for being female. Or gay, for that matter. I believe it is not compassionate to foster dependence upon others.
Real compassion, I believe, is in allowing a person to make his own decisions with the same opportunity for reward and consequence as everybody else. I don’t believe compassion is forcing others to provide for anyone — rather, when somebody needs help, compassion is providing for them yourself.
I am Conservative, because I believe it is the morally correct position. I believe a man’s thoughts, beliefs and actions (so long as those actions don’t adversely and without permission impede another’s freedoms) are between him and God alone. I don’t believe in telling somebody what they can and can’t do within their own persons or households — with exceptions only for that which would needlessly harm another human being. I also don’t believe in forcing members of society to morally justify or accept those positions in others that they find distasteful or immoral.
I am a Conservative because my conscience demands it. Slavery in any form — intellectual, moral, political or physical — is evil. I believe the money a man makes is his money, and that when that money is taxed, it is to be for the purposes outlined in the Constitution — and not for anything else. To do otherwise is to make that man a slave.
I am a Conservative because I believe life is precious, and must be protected. I believe humanity is the highest life form on earth, and created after God’s own Image. Therefore, at all costs, human life must be sustained.
Finally, I am conservative because I believe it is the job of government — the job we, the People, pay them for — to protect us from those who would do us harm. This is the mandate from the people. This is the only morality of government: to keep the peoples’ trust. To keep us safe.
Conservatism is for me, a moral imperative. I am Conservative because it is the way that makes the most sense — from an intellectual level, as well as spiritual.