Al Alborn challenged me to come up with an elevator speech as to what kind of conservative I am.
I immediately began thinking of the many persuasions that my fellow self-declared ‘conservatives’ align with.
Reality is that there are many forms of conservatism.
When I say that I am conservative, my elevator speech would be something like:
“I believe in each person being judged upon their merits and achievements. I believe in the freedom of the individual to be free from others that may want to control their thought, body, or limit their opportunities. As for government, less government can be better government, but government has a role when man refuses to self-regulate their actions either physically, financially, or spiritually. I believe that if you want it then you must pay for it.”
A recent poll (October 2010) shows that 54% of Americans now deem themselves ‘conservative’ to some degree, which is a radical jump from an average of 42.5% since 1994’s conservative surge to power.
Since 1980, 40% or greater of Americans have consistently self-declared themselves ‘conservative’.
The challenge for conservatives is that they are as much at war with each other as they are with their liberal counterparts.
The inherent friction is that social conservatives are just as likely to be statist as are the most strident big government liberal or progressive. Since many conservatives lean heavily towards libertarianism then there is an internal cultural war constantly underway.
There are many forms of conservative:
— Liberal conservatism
— Conservative liberalism
— Libertarian conservatism
Within this branch of conservatism there are five main branches which often combine with core beliefs from one of the other six main forms:
—->> Small government conservatism
—->> Christian libertarianism
— Fiscal conservatism
— Green conservatism
— Cultural and social conservatism
— Religious conservatism
… and potentially Anarchists
On the Left there generally are liberals, progressives, socialists, communists, and anarchists … if one were to broadly define the spectrum; none of them having much in common despite claims from the Right.
Credit where it is due:
!! Liberals can also be center-right as well as moderates and on the left. Liberals have a long history of being just as fiscally conservative (balance the budget) as their ‘conservative’ counterparts, sometimes more so because conservatives are likely to argue for greater defense expenditures without desire to actually pay for them.
!! Liberals can also be small government types: this assumes that society in general acknowledge and give primacy to the concept of individual rights and freedoms being more important than ‘traditions’.
To say that ‘it is complicated’ is a gross understatement.
There is no inherently right answer. There is an appropriate answer for the times that we live in — and to get 51% of ‘we the people’ to agree on that is a major challenge no matter where you and I fall within the political spectrum.