Conservatism might not be what you think it is

Anastasia Spytsya

I have gotten used to receiving puzzled looks from acquaintances after telling them I’m a conservative. Those looks are usually followed with the question, “Oh, so you like President Bush?”

The questions and puzzled looks are the result of a big misunderstanding about conservatism and the Republican Party. Oftentimes, it is believed that these two matters are the same; however, it is a wrong interpretation of these ideas. The Republican Party is a political platform, and supporters of the party are interested in winning elections. Conservatives, on the other hand, are interested in maintaining the traditional culture.

First of all, conservatism is about conserving. This philosophy fights for conserving traditional values and promoting freedom. The one unifying principle that differentiates all conservatives from all non-conservatives is that the conservatives are trying to preserve and conserve something from the past for the future (in a political, social, economic and/or moral sense).

The reason conservatives believe in traditional values is not because we are uninterested in societal progress, and it is also not because we are stuck in the past. We simply like slow, well thought-out evolution that’s likely to lead to positive change. Now, more than ever, Americans should know that shallow hope and change can lead to disaster.

Conservatism is about believing in the great principles on which this country was founded and which made this nation the greatest. The Republican Party, which technically represents conservatism on the national political level, does not often stand for the traditional philosophy of the United States of America.

The biggest difference between Republicans and conservatives is that conservatives believe in the good for America, while Republicans will do good for anybody to gain power. But there are some other major differences.

Conservatives are in favor of fairness.

Republicans have often expressed desire to help struggling foreign countries by sending millions of dollars overseas. Of course, providing help is very generous; however, it is not fair when this “help,” a.k.a. taxpayers’ dollars, goes to corrupted politicians’ pockets and not to the families who need it to make ends meet. For example, the American government under former President Bush provided millions of dollars to Ukraine during its Orange Revolution, hoping to gain another close, political ally. It did not happen. The money was wasted. Real conservatives would be respectable about using this money and would send it to working American citizens because in the end, they were the ones who earned it.

The concept of personal responsibility is as conservative as apple pie is American.

Lately, however, American people have not seen much of this responsibility from either Republican or Democratic governments. President Bush and many other Republicans thought it was appropriate for some reason to bail out the manipulators on Wall Street. Maybe it was to gain more votes during the next elections. Or, maybe, it was to gain influence over such powerful institutions such as Wall Street. Now, if it was up to a true conservative, he or she would make Wall Street hucksters pay for their own mistakes. The concept of personal responsibility is one of the fundamental principles of the conservative philosophy, and it applies to everyone in the society.

Conservatives will care for the country and its people over political business any time.

A few months ago, the Republican Party lost yet another seat in the House of Representatives when a Democrat won in the historically Republican 23rd District in New York. At the beginning of the race, there were the candidates: Republican Dede Scozzafava, conservative Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owen. Scozzafava, from my point of view, was a fake Republican who is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and pro-big government spending. At the beginning of the race, Hoffman was called a “spoiler” of the Republican ticket because people favored him and Scozzafava equally, which gave Owen the majority of votes.

However, some famous conservative Republicans campaigned for Hoffman, which (a) made him a favorable candidate and (b) made the Republican National Committee realize that if Scozzafava stayed in the race, she would play that “spoiler” role and the Democrats would pick up the seat, so they forced her out in an effort to save the seat.

Which brings me to my point. It’s a common stereotype that conservatives are part of the Republican Party. Yet, Republicans managed to poke us in the eye with a sharp stick by choosing a candidate who doesn’t support the basics of conservatism. Republican leaders chose political business over the fight for traditional values.

As Michael Savage said, “America thought Bush was a conservative. He turned out to be just a Republican. And while there are Republicans who are conservatives, too, don’t let the ‘R’ after the name fool you.”

Anastasia Spytsya is a senior Russian translation major and political science minor. Contact her at [email protected].