someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all. A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else. A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them. A conservative typically adheres to principles of personal responsibility, moral values, and limited government, agreeing with George Washington’s Farewell Address that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” to political prosperity. Religious conservatism is a big driver of social conservatism. Religious conservatism is growing in the world and it is affecting politics (see: Religious conservatism and politics). Former President Ronald Reagan said, “The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom.” (From Conservapedia)
Specifically, conservatives seek or support:
- Limited government and balanced budgets
- Capitalism and free markets
- Classroom prayer
- Respect for human life and prohibition of abortion
- Abstinence education
- Traditional marriage, not same-sex “marriage”
- The concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt
- Family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household
- Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls
- Laws against pornography
- First Amendment rights to free speech and religious freedom
- The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
- Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)
- Parental control of education (parental rights)
- Private medical care and retirement plans
- Canceling failed social support programs
- Opposition to globalism, one-world government, and the War on Sovereignty
- Economic nationalism over globalist free trade
- Valuing patriotism, self-governance, and sovereignty
- Border security and enforcement of strong immigration laws, opposition to mass migration and open borders
- Respect for our military … past and present
- Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming
- Minimal taxation
- Federalism (Separation of powers among the National, State and Local governments)
- Favoring states’ rights over federal power, while accepting the Constitutional role of the federal government, and favoring subsidiarity
- Opposition to big government and the Nanny State
- A strong national defense
- An Originalist and Textualist interpretation of the Constitution
- A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it
- Ending entitlement programs
- Voluntary charity to those in genuine need
- Founding Fathers – “All men are created equal” (Declaration of Independence). Men are not created with the same abilities or circumstances and it is not government’s role to attempt to make them the same. They are born with the same rights.
- Progressives – It is the government’s responsibility to correct inequality through redistribution & control.
- Natural Rights
- Founding Fathers – “Human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence). Men are free to live their lives the way they desire in order to pursue happiness in the way they choose. Happiness is not guaranteed. A “right” is something endowed at birth that cannot be taken away. Using the word “among” indicates there are other natural rights. Property rights and economic freedom are an integral and essential part of man’s natural rights. The Puritan work ethic valued hard work, providing for one’s family, and the right to keep the fruits of one’s labor.
- Progressives – A “right” is something you are given and not something that you have naturally. Progressives believe that one man’s right to certain things: a home, income, and health care supersede the right of another man to keep the property he has earned. Government decides which rights to give to people and groups; government can also take those rights away. Property rights are neither sacred nor protected. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness listed in the Declaration of Independence are redefined to mean government-guaranteed economic security.
- Consent of the Governed
- Founding Fathers – “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence). James Madison wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” The Founding Fathers understood that men were not perfectly good so they needed to form some sort of government to secure their natural rights. But just as important, they needed a government constrained by the consent of the people.
- Progressives – The uninformed masses need an elite group to lead them because they aren’t capable of doing it themselves. They treat those that disagree with them with contempt and quash alternative views.
- Redefining rights to be entitlements thereby justifying the redistribution of the private property of some for the benefit of others.
- By labeling profit as greed and instituting a planned economy through limits on profits and production to force economic equality.
- By redefining charity to be the government taking money through taxes to take care of anyone deemed in need rather than the voluntary giving of one’s own resources.
The moral superiority of economic freedom is proven by the outcome: More people live better under capitalism than any other system. Central control produces shortages, waste, laziness, and a lack of creative entrepreneurism. It does not provide adequately or abundantly for those it claims to help; instead, it decreases the living standard for all. If a man is not guaranteed the freedom to keep the fruits of his labor, he is not free and tyranny with a loss of all rights will follow.
The Founding Fathers also believed that men need three qualities to remain free:
- People need to be knowledgeable enough to elect good representatives that will preserve their freedoms.
- People must be moral enough to possess self-restraint to live responsibly and not tread on the rights of others.
- People must be vigilant enough to protect their rights. (Declaration of Independence states that men have a right and a duty to overthrow a government that tramples on their natural rights so they can pursue happiness and ensure security for their rights.)
American commentators who ally themselves with the conservative movement but reject its religious or moral underpinnings are generally known as neoconservatives. In the United States, conservatives are generally characterized by the following beliefs:
- Support of limited government.
- A preference for freedom of opportunity over equality of result.
- Patriotism, nationalism, and support of a strong defense.
- Support of the institution of marriage.
- Emphasis on social values, like prayer and pro-life principles.
Paleoconservatives are conservatives who are more focused on social issues and American sovereignty and are suspicious of both big government and big business, along with globalism and multiculturalism. They also lean against foreign interventionism. Neoconservatives criticize this with the pejorative term of “isolationism,” as they believe in promoting democracy worldwide, even where different religious or value systems are incompatible with democracy-induced changes in control.
A notable paleoconservative was Democrat Congressman from Georgia, Larry McDonald. He was also second Chairman of the John Birch Society, and President of Western Goals. McDonald was aboard Korean Airlines Flight 007 when it was shot down by the Soviets near Moneron Island in 1983. Other paleoconservatives include Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo.