Herein lies the definition of a conservative


In the current political discourse, we seem to spend more time labeling the messenger than actually listening to the message. We would rather deal with “issues” than actually explore core values and ideals of parties and candidates. We find it easier to exclude the ideas of others because they are “far right” or “far left.” We never ask, “Who is actually in the middle and what does that mean?” Being a conservative apparently places one on the “extreme right,” wherever that may be. I think it’s time to set the record straight and actually define what a political conservative is. I am not discussing political parties, but core political philosophies.

Because political conservatives anchor their strength in their adherence to the principles and the words of our federal Constitution and the constitutions of the various states, conservatives define the absolute center of the political spectrum. If the constitutions are the written process and procedures we created for self-government, then the group that adheres directly to those documents, as written, must define the political center.

Conservatives believe in the value of each and every person and the ability of that person to choose to be whatever they might desire. Conservatives believe that personal integrity and honor are the essential cornerstones of individual liberty and a free society. Conservatives vigorously defend the right to individual choice, but also demand individual responsibility and personal accountability for the choices made. Conservatives believe each person must be first reliant upon themselves and not on others for their individual welfare. Conservatives believe the fruits of personal effort are the rightful property of the individual who put forth the effort and are not subject to divestment without their consent. Conservatives believe success for one person does not mean failure for another. Conservatives believe there is no limit to the greatness that may be achieved by any individual except for the limits that an individual places upon themselves.

Conservatives believe that free and open debate of ideas and matters of fact strengthen our liberty and our society while labeling and personal attacks on one with differing philosophy demeans all. Conservatives welcome debate on values and principles; debate using fact and logic and not emotionalism.

With direct respect to government, conservatives believe limited government, exercising powers and authority delegated by the people, is in the best interest of all and the growth of personal freedom. Government performs only those tasks not reasonable for individual states or citizens. Conservatives believe any law, rule or regulation made by any branch of government, at any level, must have a clear and basic authority in the appropriate constitution, otherwise such act is an abuse of power. Conservatives believe the judicial branch serves to determine outcomes based on the law as written. The judiciary has no authority to establish policy, “interpret” the intent of the legislative branch or restrict or extend the authority of any branch of government, if not expressly delegated in the appropriate constitution.

Conservatives believe unalienable individual rights are endowed upon us by our Creator and the primary duty of any government is to protect those individual rights. Conservatives also believe that because rights flow from our Creator to us, government can neither create nor deny rights.

Conservatives believe that “providing for the general welfare” does not empower government to exercise powers not specifically delegated and certainly does not empower government to implement a redistribution of wealth, by any means. Conservatives believe that taxes raised by government are appropriate to pay for the services and functions specifically delegated to government and taxes, fees and levies laid upon the people without clear underlying authority are inappropriate. Conservatives understand that private property is essential to liberty and serves as the basic wealth generator for individuals and our economic freedom. The role of government is to protect private property.

I am a conservative. How about you?

As a side note to those who read and comment on my work — thank you. I appreciate and value your interest and comments. For those who do comment, I only ask that you comment on what I actually wrote and not on what you thought I wrote.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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