Conservatism deserves second look, largely misunderstood

Pornography destroys healthy perception of men, women

Pornography destroys healthy perception of men, women

Melissa Dunson

Conservatism isn’t a dirty word.

In the last few decades, the term conservatism has been thrown around and slapped onto personalities ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter with nothing but negative connotations. Few people understand the true meaning of the term and still fewer take the time to appreciate the many wonderful effects conservatism has had on our country.

Critics have labeled conservatism the party of aristocracy that one critic specified, “Loves the order that dominates them.” The claim is that conservatism is inconsistent with freedom and civilization and will bring our country back to a system of peasants and serfs serving an elite few. At the very least, critics consider conservatives to be sheep who chose the easy way out by allowing someone else to think for them and only adopted their parents’ misguided beliefs. The truth is, not all conservatives are right wing extreme Christians guided by a world of absolutes that perpetuates a philosophy of inequality.

The term conservatism is defined by Wikipedia as “Opposition to rapid change in governmental and societal institutions.”

This definition emphasizes slow changes in any form of government through the rule of law rather than through revolution or sudden innovation. Historically, the major sub-ideologies of conservatism are social conservatism, fiscal conservatism and economic conservatism.

Social conservatism focuses on existing social norms and values by supporting local customs and societal evolutions as opposed to social innovation. Fiscal conservatism focuses on keeping governmental spending within its means. This viewpoint opposes excessive governmental debt and emphasizes balanced budgets and specifically tailoring governmental welfare programs to keep tax rates low.

With this definition, conservatives aren’t necessarily republican or democrat. Conservatism is an ideology not a political party. So the term “right wing” isn’t necessarily conservative. Historically, conservatives have resisted sudden change from both the right and left. Thus, it is less than accurate to assume all conservatives exhibit arrogant and condescending attributes as the easily targeted republican talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Critics laugh and categorize conservatives as small-minded because they oppose sudden change, but what’s wrong with stability? Without it we would have anarchy and constant revolution. Conservatism has served our country well for more than 200 years. It doesn’t destroy civilization; it preserves it. Conservatism leaves plenty of room for change and social justice, but insists that it be sought first through the appropriate channels and eventually, if necessary, reaching the point of revolution or social overhaul, but only exploring that option after every other has been exhausted.

In order to function effectively, every country needs a system. Our system is one of two major parties and a various collection of ideologies. One isn’t better than the other, just different and both are necessary for the proper functioning of our democratic republic.

So, enough of this arguing and condescending. Over-generalizing, stereotyping, and, dare I say, name-calling has never gotten us anywhere philosophically and only proves once more who is the bigger person. Let’s face it, we live in a part of the country where people are strongly associated with one ideology or the other (or they don’t care). Arguing about political parties and demonizing the other side’s frontman doesn’t convince anyone to switch parties. If anything, the endless political debate fortifies the animosity between labeled parties and turns off potential voters to the entire political process.