why one would choose to be conservative

Today we continue our guest series on the legitimate reasons one would hold a particular political view. I again ask readers not to focus on their view, but the other, in search of common ground. Today we explore Why One Would Choose to be Conservative.

As with liberalism, we start with conservative extremists, not as representative, but for reasons that will become clear in the series conclusion:

Racists – There are no two ways about it, just as no Democratic presidential candidate since 1960 has received less than 82% of the African-American vote, those who are prejudiced vote in the other direction.

Anarchists – And those who would overthrow the government, for whatever reason, vote with the party who would at least limit it.

Religious Zealots – Those who would hold a literal interpretation of the Bible over our Constitution align with the party that wraps itself in religion.

Materialists – Greedy, filthy-rich people who want to keep as much as possible for themselves.

And just as with liberals, there are those who vote conservative because of their passion for a single issue:

Business – Attributing this country’s success to the strength of our free-enterprise system, some object to any restriction upon business whatsoever.

Abortion – Those who equate ending a pregnancy within the womb to murder.

Guns – It’s in the Constitution, so don’t you restrict my right to own any gun one iota.

And just as with liberalism, there are legitimate reasons one would choose to be conservative.

We again need to recognize that the labels have flipped over the years. European “conservatives” sought to preserve the monarchy the Americans (“classical liberals”) revolted against.

But today, generalizing, while liberals are by and large idealistic, conservatives tend to be more pragmatic.

They don’t necessarily disagree with the problems liberals identify, but they don’t think passing laws to fix them works very well.

And they definitely don’t see government as a very effective means of solving society’s problems.

At the core of conservatism is a belief in a free-market economy as clearly the most prosperous economic engine the world has ever seen, so much so that many equate the free market with freedom itself.

They believe that any government interference in that economy creates inefficiency. Less efficiency means less prosperity. Too much inefficiency, and we are no longer the economic powerhouse we could be.

Conservatives are far more comfortable with the disparate outcomes of the free market. They like to say that everyone is guaranteed equal opportunity, but not equal results.

As one conservative writer put it, “Man is flawed. This world is imperfect. Youth is fleeting. Life isn’t fair. Conservatives are comfortable acknowledging all of these things.”

But conservatives are afraid that the more we “rob from the rich and give to the poor,” the less incentive there is to drive economic activity, which means a lower standard of living.

Just as with liberals, there are a myriad of reasons one could be conservative. Socially, philosophers have debated for thousands of years whether standards of right and wrong stay the same forever or change over time. Social conservatives are more likely to believe in moral absolutes.

I again don’t want to be too cursory or over-generalize, but that pretty much captures it for me – let the free market do its thing, and interfere with it as little as possible.

So conservatives, is there anything important I left out? Or liberals, anything I glossed over? Remember, the goal is to understand each other, not insult the other.

Because next comes the hard part, In Search of Common Ground….



Photo by Mitch Nielsen on Unsplash