Saturday, July 15, 2006

What is a "Real Conservative?"

What do I mean by "real conservative?" The term conservative pre-dates the conventional American left-right division. Depending upon the era, a conservative can fall to the left or to the right. Conservatism is different than that.

Webster's defines conservatism as "a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change." I think I agree with that definition as well as adhering to the general priciples of conservatism.

Change happens. But when looking at a situation where change would be beneficial, one has to wonder: What is the nature of the change? Does the change have to be drastic or can it be more gradual? I generally choose gradual change. It's an iterative approach that builds on what has already been established as good and makes it better.

How does this play out from a governmental position? What kind of government would I choose if given the choice? I certainly believe that our government should provide its residents with a basic level of security and stability. It should also protect the minority from the majority and ensure that certain rights are indeed self-evident and inalienable. It should also be involved in critical infrastructure, like the highway system, the ports, and border control. In short, the government should uphold our Constitution and existing laws, making changes only when absolutely necessary.

What does this mean in terms of how our government should operate? Certainly, because I generally believe that change should be gradual rather than abrupt, our government should seek to enforce existing laws and keep new legislation to a minimum. It should also refrain from prying into its residents' personal affairs.

The government should seek to be small, only requesting funds (i.e., taxes) to provide this basic level of security, stability, and infrastructure. It should stay out of religion, out of the schools for the most part (the federal government can certainly pony up some money for science if it believes it can achieve its primary objectives with more quality engineers, physicists, or doctors).

So these are the things that make a conservative government:

1. Small government. This means fiscal restraint. Less pork. Raising taxes in times of prosperity, lowering them in downturns.
2. Right to privacy. The government should stay out of my personal affairs. It should stay out of people's bedrooms, bathrooms, churches, and libraries.
3. Separation of church and state.
4. Protect the borders.
5. Develop and/or guide critical infrastructure, like highways, bridges, dams, telecommunications, etc.
6. Fully back the dollar.
7. Develop a military that can protect us against invasion.
8. I will add more as I think of them, but this is a good start.

Next post on this topic will be how our current government is doing in these respects.