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Lv 7
chin asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 1 decade ago

What does it mean to be a conservative?

I feel I may have straw manned the conservative position a bit in my last question. What are the basic tenets? Are there any fundamental axioms to the philosophy? Conservative relative to what? Does the goalpost always move as societies' values change? I have listened to conservative radio talk shows all my life (I actually quite enjoy Savage's show) and much of my family identifies with conservatism so I think I have a reasonable idea of the sorts of things that people believe in but I was told I don't know the first thing about it so I would like to be informed.

I know that my philosophy, libertarianism, is based on the non aggression principle, private property and individualism and all the logical implications that follow from that. What is conservatism?



Which values?

Update 2:


Thank you for actually answering the question. How did you come to the conclusions you hold (many of them I agree with) and why do you label them as conservative? What is the conservative principal that led you to be anti-war for example and why do so many of your brethren not follow suit?

Update 3:


So conservatism is just another word for constitutionalist? Should congress have declared war before we entered into Iraq and Afghanistan? Should we have a central bank? What about the military commissions and patriot acts? These are just a couple of examples of many unconstitutional things the government does that I rarely hear conservatives complain about.

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Gotta love some of the people here, on both sides. Just out of control.

    Anyway, the conservatism you're probably referring to came about in the latter half of the twentieth century, as a response to a growth in government in every sector, but especially social welfare. It was apparent in Barry Goldwater's 1968 campaign for President, when he railed against the size of government. He said taxes were too high and spending was out of control, he wanted to pursue a much more aggressive foreign policy, and protect what many refer to as "traditional/family values" (pro-life, anti-gay marriage, etc).

    This conservatism gained steam after Goldwater's crushing defeat to Johnson in '68. Throughout the 1970s, anti-tax protests were all over, there was great frustration with the Carter administration's handling of the Iran hostage crisis, and many fought the Roe v. Wade decision.

    Then in 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency, and he pursued this kind of three-pillared conservatism that we see today: National Security (aggressive, show America's strength), Economics (low taxes, low spending when it comes to social welfare), and Social Values (again, those "traditional family values" that a lot of Christian groups refer to- opposed to gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion).

    The country apparently approved, and in '84, Reagan was reelected with 49 states going in his favor. This conservatism continued even into the Clinton Administration, when the GOP took back the House and Senate in 1994.

    It continues today, but has had an identity crisis, and instead of being the Establishment view that it had been during the Reagan/Republican Revolutions, it is now the grass-roots Tea Party movement we see on the news.

    The conservative stance could change again in the future, as the country changes. But for now, it is essentially what Reagan and Goldwater spoke about- again, those three pillars.

    Source(s): I'm not a hard core conservative, and pragmatism is probably my only real ideology, but I'd definitely call myself a moderate Republican.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It means:

    >Anger and fear are the staple emotions

    >You fear the government and people on the street you don't know prompting you to carry firearms

    >You are extremely patriotic and think your country does no wrong and at the same time you think your government wants to take all your rights away and enslave you

    >You have lowered EQ / ability to empathize

    >You have poor social skills

    >You are independent and work in jobs that don't require much social interaction

    >You covet guns and equate owning guns to freedom

    >You believe 1 man should run every function of the government and be paid minimum wage

    >You believe in evil and that society should take no responsibility for social problems aside from executions and imprisonment

    >You fear anything and anyone different

    >You like war, it fascinates you and you dream about you and your kids killing foreigners together as a family someday

    >You can't take criticism but you poorly articulate constant attacks on others

    >You have trouble expressing yourself without the aid of alcohol

    >You suspect the government is "out to git ya" but can't explain what exactly that means

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    It means to conserve the Constitution. And to those that yell "Racist! Sexist!" You can stop whining because the Constitution has been Amended.

    It basically means to follow the rules of our country. I do not see how that is a bad thing, well, unless you want a socialist state where you get handed everything and have no freedom...

  • 1 decade ago

    I am happy to know that I don't have family values, am a fundamentalist Christian, and just "evil."

    I guess that says quite a lot about me, huh?

    This Conservative is pro States rights, small government, low(er) taxes, pro education, pro environment (but anti EPA), pro choice, faithful, pro gun restrictions, anti war, and pro gay marriage.

    Liberals had me pegged!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Conservatism, quite literally, means to keep things the same, thereby ruling out any chance of improvement.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It means having values and being self-reliant, unlike liberals who reward crime and laziness.

    "Which values?"

    What do you mean 'which values'? Values are unknown to some? Self-reliance is a value, as is love for truth, freedom, and morals.

  • Green
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    In almost all cases, it means that you are a fundamentalist Christian. There are a few libertarians, but they are so rare that it is not even worth noting.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    to pretend to be in favor of "family values" and "small government"

    while imposing your religion and beliefs upon others at your own convenience.

    and being a hypocrite by having multiple affairs & divorces.......while imposing your "family values" on the rest of the community.

  • 1 decade ago

    Conservatives are pure Evil..

  • 1 decade ago

    Conservativism = scared close-minded people

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