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What is Conservatism?   March 4th, 2009
FoxNews suggests conservatives couldn't answer the question       

 
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There was an article this evening at Fox that suggested that when asked what conservatism stands for, many at CPAC (a conservative convention) couldn't answer the question. I offer my position on what sums up conservatism.

http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/03/04/deseno_conservatism/

The high point of the survey came when I spotted columnist George Will walking through the lobby of the Omni-Shoreham Hotel. I asked him if he would take my survey. He hurried along and said, 'I'm meeting my children for dinner.' I walked with him and pleaded, 'But it's only one question! Let me ask as we walk.' 'Fine,' he said. 'What's the question?' I asked him for a short definition of Conservatism, to which he replied, 'It can't be done -- the answer is far too complex.'

That, Sir, is why we are losing...

The definition of conservatism, encompassing all its ideas put in its simplest form, is this:

'Conserving the rights of the individual against the trespasses of government, and the trespasses of others.'


That definition is not inaccurate, but I think it comes off as a bit academic for public consumption--and requires the answer to be pondered to understand the entirety of what it means. And while *I* don't believe the above definition could be applied to liberal philosophy, the casual reader can read that definition and simply think, "Who doesn't believe that?" without fully processing the implications. Conservatism comes off sounding so formless that it seems everyone's a conservative (they're not), or it sounds like conservatism is so complex that a simple definition has to be esoteric (it doesn't).

My answer as to how to briefly define conservatism, or what it stands for, is:True, my definition is not as concise as the definition offered at Fox. But in my opinion it shouldn't be about reducing every aspect of conservatism into a single all-encompassing esoteric sentence, but offering a simple answer that conveys the bulk of our ideology in a way that the average person can relate to... and not walk away trying to figure out what the answer means.

Now if someone could tell me what liberalism stands for, that'd be something...


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