What is a conservative?

2 minute read


What is a conservative?

In many western democracies, there are two main political parties: the left and the right.

In Australia, this is Labor and the Liberals (capital-L is important!), though the Greens seem to be staking out some territory usually thought of as Labor’s remit.

In the UK, this is Labour and the Conservatives.

In the use, this is the Democratic Party, and the …

A few years ago, I would have said that the Republican Party is the right-wing of the general political establishment. But they’ve revealed themselves to be nothing more than radicals, at least a significant minority of the Republican congressional delegation. That significant minority fanned the populist flames that led to five people dying at the US Capitol.

As a result, I’ve been wondering what is conservatism?

When I was in college, I was a member of the Young Liberals. Again: the L is important. This party is not liberal in the US sense, it is conservative. I helped out on the stump with various Liberal candidates in Brisbane in local, state, and federal elections.

The reason I got involved with them instead of Labor or the Nationals was because the Young Liberals embodied some of the things I thought were true: free enterprise is good; society is good.

Unfortunately, the right wing now most loudly promotes free enterprise, but the left wing promotes the good of society more than the right.

Here in the US, there are other fault lines: healthcare, infrastructure, and immigration with societal racism permeating it all.

We cannot have a society without healthcare. Society flourishes with good infrastructure. And E Pluribus Unum is a founding principle of American democracy.

The Republican party has been saying for ten years that they have something to replace Obamacare.

I’ve yet to see it.

The Republican party has been saying “it’s infrastructure week” for four years.

I’ve yet to see it.

The Republican party has been saying, with respect to immigration, that “Donald Trump is the law and order president”.

I’ve yet to see it. More, we’ve seen that he is not that at all.

GOP on immigration

So, what is conservatism? What would make a real conservative party?

I am going to leave out of the party definition any semblance of religion. Christianity, as an evangelical religion, does not want to maintain the status quo. The conservative value of self-reliance should leave it up to the individual what their beliefs or lack thereof are.

And the US First Amendment should disabuse anyone of imposing a state-sponsored religion.

For me:

  • A true conservative party wants to maintain the status quo.
  • A true conservative party values family and family connections.
  • A true conservative party values self-reliance and endeavor.
  • A true conservative party changes the status quo when family or self-reliance are threatened.

I’m wondering what conservatives think?