What is a True "Conservative"?

I've often wondered whether I am a conservative or not. I guess it's because I'm not sure if I know the definition--or at least the definition that everyone agrees on. Well, now I've been called one, so I guess I better find out what it is.

I know a conservative is someone that conserves (or is in favor of conserving) something. I always assumed that if I were a Conservative it meant that I was in favor of conserving the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Then, several years ago, when hard-line Soviet Communists were trying to depose Mikhail Gorbachev, they were described by the American press as Conservatives. That threw me into a conundrum. If that's what a conservative is--to conserve what currently exists--then throw this baby out with the bathwater!!

This morning in his Post of the Week, Bob Aagard at The World According to Me, linked to my recent post, "Why Utah Mormons Fell for George W. Bush". His post was complimentary, so I am assuming that his reference to me therein as a "true conservative" was complimentary as well, but for me it dredged up ghosts of Communists past, and I began to wonder, "Is that what I really am?"

The term "true conservative" dredged up for me ghosts of Communists past.

Dictionary.com defines a conservative as someone who is
disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
Almost good...but yikes! Which one is it? Restoring, or preserving? You see my quandary?

So for you who have read my blog, what am I? Take the following quiz. Am I a:
  1. Conservative
  2. Bircher
  3. Conspiracy nut
  4. Paulista
  5. Constitutionalist
  6. Paultard
  7. Other


  1. The press likes to refer to Communists, Islamic fundamentalists, etc., as "conservatives," in order to sully the term. Don't worry about that.

    I vote for Paulista for you.

  2. Frank,

    My grandmother was vice chair of the Utah Republican Party. She was a true conservative and a respected Utah Republican. My guess, she is looking down from Heaven and wondering what has happened to the true conservative principles and values she embraced.

    On the other hand, I think she would have liked your blog.

  3. Craig,

    Paulista was my vote, too!


    Thank you, kind sir. And I, as well, appreciate greatly the intelligence, wit, and stimulating conversation of the Utah Amicus.

  4. 3, 4, 6, 2?, and 7 (closet progressive) ;)

  5. Assuming "Paulista" is what Ron Paul supporters like to be called, I vote for that. In the last GOP debate, all the candidates were asked what principles they planned to govern by.
    Ron Paul was the only one who mentioned the Constitution, which makes him a conservative IMHO-- he's also a libertarian of course (also a good thing).

  6. Don,

    In that order? I've given up conspiracy mongering long ago...I think... ;-)


    I actually have called myself a Constitutionalist in recent years to clarify any misconception that people might have against conservatism, but I like your definition. The more I study Ron Paul's platform and writings, the more I appreciate libertarianism (for example as regards the "drug war").

  7. I would go with Constitutionalist. In my mind that is a much more descriptive term - descriptive of what a political "conservative" ought to be.

  8. I agree Constitutionalist is a descriptive term (although my spell checker has never heard of it).

    There are paleo, neo, economic and social conservatives. Anyway Bush may have ruined the reputation of all the conservatives to the point they will retire the brand.

  9. Where I grew up in South Africa, the Conservatives were the guys who would let go of apartheid and other racist policies. The Democratic party was the one that was pushing freedom and equality.

    I typically don't like labels because I think that it compartmentalizes people. For instance Obama and Hillary both claim to be progressive liberals, but I think their approaches to problems would differ vastly. Same label, one I might vote for, one I will never vote for.

  10. The term 'conservative' doesn't mean what it used to, so I think Constitutionalist is a fair label. We must remember, the Founders were the rebels of their day...

  11. My impression of you has always been what I refer to as a "traditional" conservative. Which to me means you value the principles that once made the Republican party great, but recognize they have since lost touch.

    It's an admirable label, even for one as "far left" as myself.

  12. Rebel,

    The founders were rebels of a sort, but their disadvantage vis-a-vis us is that they didn't have a Constitution that protected their rights.

    Jason The,

    Thanks for the compliment. That is a very good definition of what I am (or strive to be).


Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. If you have a Google/Blogger account, to be apprised of ongoing comment activity on this article, please click the "Subscribe" link below.

Popular posts from this blog