Conservatism is misdiagnosed

Matthew White

Conservatism is a radical philosophy that has almost nothing to do with the establishment.

Now, a lot of people are probably scratching their heads and saying this doesn’t make sense. Those people are probably thinking, “Wait a minute, isn’t the ‘religious-right’ conservative? And, isn’t George W. Bush conservative?” among other things.

In some cases, yes, they may be, but in many more cases definitely not.

There are a lot of myths floating around about conservatism that are perpetuated by election-year politics. For some groups, and for some politicians, hijacking the term “conservative” has paid off handsomely in recent elections.

Those who look to impose their religious viewpoints on all of society are not conservatives, even if their values happen to be. These people have robbed conservatism of its meaning by ignoring one of its most important concepts – freedom of thought. True conservatives believe in the power of their ideas – not in the power of law – to conserve traditional values.

Others have confused the meaning of the word “conservative” by accepting the label and rejecting the philosophy. These men and women are false prophets. Establishing a centralized government and launching preemptive wars against foreign lands is the philosophy of fascism, communism and those reformed liberals who call themselves neo-conservatives.

Still others, have called themselves “moderate” conservatives, as if it’s possible to believe in something only half the time. True conservatives know that skepticism of the government and maximizing personal freedom exist in no amount of moderation what-so-ever.

So, if conservatism is none of these things, then what is it?

Conservatism is the philosophy of freedom. Conservatives believe that government must be closer to the people – rather than further from them. Conservatives believe in the importance of local, county and state government, relying upon Washington D.C. only as a last resort. Further, they believe that being self-reliant is always superior to dependent on an unreliable government.

Conservatives believe in the absence of laws in the realm of morality. Yes, this means not proscribing religion into the law, but it also means not interjecting law into religion; freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

Conservatives believe in peace through superior firepower. Having a strong military prevents war, rather than encourages it. Hostile nations will not start a war they cannot win.

Conservatives believe that taxes steal freedom. The money a person earns ought to be spent how that person chooses, it shouldn’t be ripped away from them.

Conservatives believe government policies that intervene into the economy, that promote redistribution of wealth from one sector of society to another, are fundamentally immoral and tantamount to theft. The government has absolutely no right to take your hard-earned money and give it to someone who did nothing to earn it.

Barry Goldwater’s thunderous words in 1964 still hold true: Conservatives “cherish diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We don’t seek to live anyone’s life for him, we only seek to secure his rights, and guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks that cannot otherwise be performed.”

Matt White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].