Uncommon Sense

October 15, 2018

Defining Conservatives

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

A self-defined conservative laid out a number of points why he finds conservatism attractive. These are not all of his points, just some and I respond to these. Here is my truncation of his list, mostly without the supporting commentary:

  1. Conservatives are in favor of less government.
  2. Conservatives are in favor of following the law.
  3. Conservatives seem to support lower taxes. Government can’t really do anything right, companies are much better at getting the right products to the right people at the right time. The higher taxes go, the less well they can do that and the more government will step in and screw things up even further.
  4. Conservatives want people to reach their full potential. They want people to enjoy life and be the most that they can be – without interference from anyone else or from the government – especially from the government.
  5. Conservatives are pro-immigration … but they want legal immigration, not illegal immigration.
  6. Conservatives value life.
  7. Conservatives believe in helping out people who have less than they do. Did you know that 80% of charity money comes from conservatives?
  8. Conservatives believe in the Constitution and that the Constitution is the paramount law of the land. They believe the government should follow the Constitution and the law and not butt into people’s private affairs.
  9. Conservatives will fight for your right to say whatever you please even if they disagree with it.
  10. If you’re poor, a conservative will give you a chance at a job, they will try to help you get an education and a place to live, food and clothing if you need it. But they also expect you to take responsibility for your own life.
  11. The way I see it, is that conservatives want things – like in politics – to work.
  12. Conservatives favor capitalism over socialism because they know that capitalism works better.
  13. Conservatives believe in a strong defense because every country that has dropped their defense has been attacked by some other country.

I don’t know how far I will go with these, but here are some of my responses.

Conservatives are in favor of less government. Well, yes and no. The federal government has expanded under all Democrats and Republican presidents in my lifetime, so no matter what is said, we have gotten more government and not less. The claim that conservatives are in favor of less government is ideological support for their attempts to cut parts of the government they do not like. They tend to follow actions in this vein, for example, with irrational demands to expand military spending (often as a way to support military-industrial corporations, which donate heavily to their political coffers e.g. ordering new tanks when many of the tanks we have are being scrapped because they are unneeded). They seem to be in favor of what they like and not in favor of what they do not. So, there is no position here, just ideological support for “smaller government” in the areas they do not like and larger government in the areas they do.

Conservatives value life. Uh, again, yes and no. Conservatives are frequently anti-abortion. Once you are born, however, you are on your own. And if you make a really big mistake, like breaking the law while black or brown, they are staunchly in favor of the death penalty. So, again, this is a statement meant to portray conservatives in a good light, but really, who doesn’t value life, especially their own? Everyone values life. But being “pro-life” is just ideological cover for what they want to do, like banning abortion, which is a huge government intrusion into people’s private lives. So, here again, their desire for smaller government doesn’t extend to government restrictions on abortion. They want more government regulations in this area, but less in business.

Conservatives believe in helping out people who have less than they do. They just do not want the government involved. They prefer a situation in which the poor know who is giving them a handout. They prefer “charity” as the mode in which we help out our fellow citizens who are struggling. Clearly studies show that “charity” is not up to the task, but still the government, which is really the collective “we” as in “we the people,” should not be involved, say critics. Examples of other countries which have effectively figured out how to provide their citizens with basic supports (healthcare, education, etc.) we cannot copy because well, it would make government effective and the last thing conservatives want is a perception of the government being effective. The government is the only power in play that can rein in uncontrolled capitalism and the richest conservatives do not want that. Government has to be perceived as being inefficient and incompetent … except in the areas they like, such as the military.

Conservatives want things – like in politics – to work. Uh, like everybody else? Actually, they seem to want politics to work the way they want it to and, if it does not, they set about changing how politics works. They recently have been gung ho for voter suppression when historically they have been in favor of the act of voting for everyone. It was just that they began to lose too many elections because the wrong kind of voters were voting.

Conservatives believe in the Constitution and that the Constitution is the paramount law of the land. Well, who doesn’t? It is interesting, however, that whenever the conservatives discover the Constitution doesn’t say what they want, they set about changing it. For example, the Second Amendment right to bear arms was viewed since its writing as a collective right for Americans to bear arms in support of militias. But that wasn’t good enough, so centuries old settled law was changed so that bearing a firearm became an individual right. (With regard to the NRA’s campaign to change the “normal” interpretation of the constitution, Chief Justice Warren Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”) More recently, the Supreme Court’s conservatives have given corporations free speech rights as well as the right to donate as much political money as they want, as if those “powers” of corporations were not just manifestations of their executive officers, giving them super powers as citizens.

Basically, I guess I am arguing that we need to stop using broad descriptive generalizations and, actually, I intend to stop talking about conservatives as people. A responder on Quora who was asked “can conservatives say anything nice about liberals?” responded that he had many nice things to say about people who claim to be liberals but what constitutes a liberal is way too broad for generalizations (epithets yes, generalizations no) so that there was nothing he could say which applied to all liberals. I think the same thing can be said to apply to conservatives.

So, I will try mightily to not talk about conservatives … but conservative ideas and ideology, well, I think there is an open season on those.


  1. Here, let me fix all this: Conservatives are immune to their hypocrisy.

    Liked by 4 people

    Comment by john zande — October 15, 2018 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

    • The Great Zande, master of Snark! Ah, I believe you are true about some but that is shared by a great many of us. Truth to be told, I miss the real conservatives, a la Dwight Eisenhower, from my youth. What this current crop of politicians are haven’t a label in my mind … yet.

      “I return to my statement that if a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power .” D.D. Eisenhower

      On Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 12:42 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 15, 2018 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  2. Hah! These 13 points are VERY general and fast, broad strokes aren’t they!? 😬

    Many Conservatives who want less government also applaud other wealthy Conservatives who “steal” from our government. Then, if they are the victims of theft, private or from the IRS, they bitch how horribly managed and under-staffed the government (they want less of!) is/was when they were stolen from and the government they hate in the first place didn’t stop or catch the thieves! LOL

    And the Constitution? Our system of 3-Branched Checks and Balances government system? 1) In theory it’s a democracy, of the fluctuating majority (non-whites), NOT of the minority (now the rich white man). 2) It should be a Secular government, exactly how the majority of Founding Fathers drew it up. And 3) It should value the well-being of ALL citizens no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation, politics, or their free-speech free-press when it should be protected. But the reality is Conservatives do NOT want these liberties for all citizens.

    My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” — Adlai Stevenson

    If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” — Noam Chomsky

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Professor Taboo — October 15, 2018 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  3. The clowns who pass as conservatives now days are so fake in their supposed conservatism. My opinion, others may vary. Yes, old Ike was a more real conservative. He also was the last POTUS to stand up to the zionist entity. 1956 and the Suez disaster for the entity, UK and France. He told them back off and let Egypt keep control of the canal or he’d start bombing them.
    Dad liked Ike, having served under him as Ike had been over all US Army commander in North Africa/Europe. Dads’ unit was anti aircraft and he was a mechanic. Lucky man, never saw combat personally. I think that is why he was depressed when I enlisted in the USMC, but I knew I was going to get drafted soon.
    At one time, last century, the elephant gang was the anti war party. Taft I think may have been the last POTUS of that gang when they were anti war.
    Now days the old saying about a “dimes’ worth of difference” is so far wrong. Now they are just the opposite sides to the very same coin. Heads they win. Tails we lose. War is big profits for the defense contractors and they poor tons of cash into re-election campaigns. Now that Miss Waffle House waitress has quit being our(??) UN secretary, will she run for POTUS in 2020? I’m curious as I may not be around to see her try.
    Mr. President, you could do a similar post on what passes for liberals/progressives in ‘Merikkka today also. Just as fake, just as phony as the crap who call themselves conservatives. This country needs a workers party. Yeah, I know, the old saying that as one got old, he/she becomes more ‘conservative’. Well, I don’t fit that mold. I get more pissed off at this crapola we get dumped on us, but I see myself as being more socialist as I age. Of course we need real people who can actually think first. Oh, and they need to be younger than 50, leaves me out, thanks be to the universe.
    Or, maybe better yet; Thank Ceiling Cat!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — October 16, 2018 @ 4:06 am | Reply

    • Once again, I find myself in total agreement with you! (No surprise, I guess.) It seems that the attempts to vilify the word “liberal” are coming home to roost. There also isn’t a singular voice (or just a few voices) declaiming what it means to be a liberal or conservative (William F Buckley comes to mind) and as a consequence, people are making up their own definitions and their own ideologies so what we have is faux everything. What a mess.

      On Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 4:06 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 16, 2018 @ 9:03 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: