What Is A Conservative? How To Know If You Are A Conservative!
So, what is a conservative? There are a lot of different definitions of conservative most of them rely on one person or another as the model. This, in the end, is not a workable solution since all such opinions differ.
What is a conservative? Human models:
There is the Reagan type conservative, and then the Buckley like conservative, and the Trump type conservative, which I do not believe to be conservative at all.
As an example of the variation: Goldwater was the model for the Reagan style of conservative thought, which according to Reagan was more Libertarian than anything else. This brand of conservative thinking did not go well with William Buckley who founded National Review.
Religious and authoritarian conservative models:
There are religious conservatives from the religious right which was once known as the silent majority, and there are those who make the central point of their conservative thought the control of society by law and order and authoritarianism! There are all sorts of variations, but none of them answer the real question of what is conservative!
Models from the old world conservatives:
I want to be clear that I am not talking about conservative in the British sense. I am not trying to promote a monarchy or establish or maintain an elite as is the habit of some. I am talking about a truly American style conservatism which is almost the exact opposite!
A method for determining who is a conservative
So, what method or standard is in place to measure whether or not a particular idea or the ideas of a particular person are in fact conservative? If I say someone is a social conservative, that brings out both the best and the worst of people and ideas! If I speak of fiscal conservatives, the same sort of issues arise! What is the measure of this thing we call conservative? Well, it turns out we have had a good measure of such ideas and thoughts for around 240 years at the time of this talk. It is our Constitution! The definition of conservative is one who holds to the beliefs laid out in the Constitution! Constitutional thought is that thought which corresponds to the U.S. Constitution.
I submit this one idea to you as the great and truly conservative and truly American definition for conservatives and conservative thinking! Brace yourselves, because this is not going to be pleasant for many in supposedly conservative circles! It is the whole Constitution!
The majority of the Constitution simply deals with the 3 branches of government, and the restrictions placed on government and the manner in which the government is intended to operate. In other words, it is the operator manual of our republic. The first 10 amendments are known as the Bill Of Rights and they enumerate a set of rights of the people and restrictions on government. Those who seek to abide by these rights and restrictions are those who are preserving our Constitutional heritage are those who are by definition, conservatives!
What is a conservative? Let the Bill of Rights tell us:
The first 10 amendments are known as the Bill Of Rights and they enumerate a set of rights of the people and restrictions on government. Those who seek to abide by these rights and restrictions are those who are preserving our Constitutional heritage are those who are by definition, conservatives! Conversely, those who seek to restrict these rights, or seek to increase government control beyond these limitations are not conservatives!
How to know if you are a conservative
The Bill Of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
If you seek to limit free speech, free press, free assembly, or freedom of religion, you are not conservative.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
If you seek to restrict the right to keep and bear arms, you are not conservative.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
If you want to have soldiers quartered in private homes by force in time of peace, you are not a conservative.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
If you seek to search and take property without a specific and detailed warrant from a judge, you are not conservative.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
If you seek limit due process or the right to avoid self-incrimination or restrict an individual’s right to fair bail, and just compensation for private property taken for public use, you are not conservative!
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
If you try to restrict the right to a speedy and public trial by jury, the right for the accused to confront witnesses against him, the ability of the accused to call his own witnesses and have legal counsel for criminal or civil cases, you are not a conservative.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
If you seek to restrict law suits by restricting a person;s right to trial by jury, you are not conservative.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
If you think that excessive bail and cruel or unusual punishment are okay, then you are not conservative.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
If you put the rights of the federal government ahead of the rights of the individual, you are not conservative!
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
If you put the rights of the federal government ahead of the rights of the individual state, you are not conservative!
So, there you have it, a definition of what is conservative and what is not based on our Republic’s founding document. I know that many of you will have problems with one or another of these points, but it is true and solid.
In reality, there are degrees of conservatism and the Constitution is the compass by which we can determine the rightness or the wrongness of an idea or a person.