Conservatism – What is it and What Does it Mean?


Opinion by Patricia L Johnson

“Conservative” and Conservatism are words that have been used over and over again by most of the Republican presidential candidates.

The problem I have is I cannot seem to locate an in-depth definition for the word ‘conservative’. A definition that appears to have some consistency follows:

con·serv·a·tive/kənˈsərvətiv/

Adjective: Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in politics or religion.

Noun: A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in politics.

That definition may mean something to someone, but it doesn’t tell me what I want to know which is what exactly a ‘conservative’ is and how that label affects their political views?

I consider myself to be a person that is opposed to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, but by no stretch of the imagination could I call myself a ‘conservative’ (based on the apparent lack of values and morals exhibited by those that claim to be conservatives).

Perhaps my confusion is hidden in the words “traditional values”. When I think about traditional values I think of some of the values I was taught as a child; don’t lie, steal, cheat; care for those that can’t take care of themselves; be kind, considerate and caring; respect authority, and take good care of your little brothers. If you knew how my little brothers behaved, you’d understand why the last one, without a doubt, is the most difficult to follow.

Above all else we were taught to love our neighbors. We grew up in the hustle, bustle of the city and maybe that’s why we never learned how easy it is to look down on something or someone else for no reason other than ‘it’s the thing to do’.

I attended church on a regular basis, when I was younger, and the one thing I learned over and over each week was my God loved everyone. It didn’t matter if they were black, white, Hispanic, Asian, European, Middle Eastern, Gay, on birth control, or on Viagra. We were all God’s children and he cared about all of us equally. Is this something that is not taught to those that claim to be ‘conservatives’?

All our politicians claim to be religious, yet with few exceptions, they seem to be unable to make statements containing facts instead of fiction. Is there some passage in the Bible that I missed that says something to the effect that if you’re running for office it’s no longer a sin to lie?

It might benefit our politicians to once again read Robert Fulghum’s essay “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and follow the rules.

For those with any degree of principles one of Fulghum’s latest comments from “What I Want” will definitely bring a smile.

I want all candidates at Republican Party debates to be required to appear naked onstage so that at least some objective truth will be on offer”

© 2012 Patricia L Johnson

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