Conservatism is a political and social term from the Latin verb conservare meaning to save or preserve. As the name suggests it usually indicates support for tradition and traditional values. According to my dictionary a political conservative is one who is:
1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate; avoiding unnecessary risk taking.
3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit; conservative in speech or actions.
Now that I have defined the term for us, and we're all on the same page intellectually speaking, let's look at what makes a political conservative "tick". Everything from here on down is my personal world view, which may or may not be in agreement with the world view of anybody else... and it doesn't have to in order to be valid. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A conservative is one who believes that our culture, traditions and Constitutional guarantees are invaluable (that word means priceless - it does not mean without value, Bubba). The conservative believes that change may become necessary in many things, but holds culture, tradition, and the Constitution to be sacrosanct (consult Webster's). He believes that it is a personal responsibility for all true Americans to preserve those things so that future generations may enjoy them. Yes, you read that correctly. The conservative considers anyone who does not hold those same values in the highest esteem to be something less than a true American. The good news is that conservatives do not see those people as subhuman... just as terribly misguided and irrevocably ignorant.
Conservatives attempt to choose their words with reasonable care, so as not to unwittingly offend another person. They also see offending the sensitivities of others as acceptable when the ignorance of those "others" cannot be overcome by pure reason.
Conservatives believe in the sanctity of human life, perhaps to a fault. This belief includes all human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of unavoidable death . At the same time, they believe in the penalty of death for those who have committed crimes deserving of that penalty against others. A conservative's sympathies are with the victims of crime, not those who commit the crimes. They also believe that there are those among us whose characters are not salvageable, and therefore unfit to live among civilized persons. And why should one who has taken a life, other than in self-defense or in defense of the life of another, be allowed to live out their life to its natural conclusion at the expense of the honest citizen? A swift application of Mosaic Law (that's the "eye-for-an-eye" thing) would make the world a safer, better place. A lawful death sentence in the USA takes an average of 17 years to reach its conclusion.
Conservatives understand that children, who are the most innocent and defenseless among us, should be protected to the "nth degree" of the law, yet our liberal courts are (for the most-part) issuing judicial slaps upon the wrist to those who molest and murder children. We are not happy about that.
Conservatives believe that personal satisfaction comes from a job well done, and that a person should be able to reap the rewards of their own labors, skills and talents without having to support those who choose not to labor for the rewards our society can provide. Those who are physically and mentally capable of earning their own way should be required to do so. There is no birthright to success. Just a birthright to be afforded an opportunity to become successful through personal effort. You have no right to ask anybody to give you some of what they have earned because you are too lazy to work. The world owes you absolutely nothing. The fact that you are simply present on this planet is not a particular blessing to the rest of the occupants until you apply yourself, and become a productive member of the society in which you live.
Conservatives support energy conservation - and, by and large, we think that Political Correctness is a ridiculous waste of energy. How did Americans ever let it become incorrect to speak one's mind using the normal everyday words of the English language - including idiom, cant, colloquialisms and jargon? Why should we have to search our entire vocabulary inventory to avoid the possibility of offending somebody? Nowhere is it written that we have the right to go through life without ever being offended. If you should find yourself offended tell the other party "I find that offensive." (Then either stand your ground and prepare to argue against whatever it was that offended you, or turn on your heel and leave the area. After which you should just suck it up and get on with your life.) Other than that, we also support the conservative management of our natural energy resources! The natural transition from this point would be to explore...
"Hate crimes". Hatred is not a "crime" in the real world. Hatred is an emotion... an attitude... a state of mind... the end result of a thought process. It is the physical expression of that emotion, in some otherwise illegal manner, that may constitute a crime. Hatred is at the extreme negative end of the love-hate emotional continuum, and is a particularly unsatisfactory - but natural - emotion. Hatred is a learned emotion, and hatred of a person or thing may be learned from a very negative personal experience, or it may be unintentionally - or intentionally - taught. (Neo-Nazi's teach their children to hate "niggers and Jews" from an age that predates reason and the ability to fully understand. The children, seeking the approval and love of their parents, learn and recite these mantras of hate by rote.) The terrorist attack of 9-11 generated a significantly strong and wide-spread dislike for anything Muslim among the people of the United States. In some it instilled fear, in others anger, and in many it instilled hatred of the Muslim culture, all things Islamic, and anyone who even appeared to be of middle eastern descent. But, in almost all Americans, 9-11 instilled some degree of distrust! Human beings tend to be distrustful of anything out of the ordinary... especially if they can easily identify those "things" from their size, shape, manner of dress, speech, or color. Look upon that distrust as a survival mechanism.
Conservatives had a self-imposed "vow of silence". Until recently conservatives were the fabled "silent majority". You did not see conservatives rioting in the 1950s and 1960s. You did not see conservatives "dropping out" and running off to join the drug infested liberal "hippie" communes of the 1960s and '70s. However, in 2009, the "silent majority" realized they were not being heard over the tumultuous clamor of the socialist/Marxist liberals. The cacophonous whining of the "entitlement whores" (those who think the government owes them something for simply existing) and their "pimps" (the bleeding heart, liberal politicians who wish to increase their voter base by giving the first group anything they ask for) echo through the halls of the Congress, reverberating almost as loudly as the big money of corporate America and labor unions. We know that "money talks while....". Seeing the direction in which the NObama Administration was taking the country with bailouts, stimulus packages, increased entitlement programs, amnesty for illegal aliens, B.O.'s Global Apology Tour, and mortgaging the country to China (of all people), conservatives organized, mobilized, and gave birth to the 21st century version of the Boston Tea Party. For those of you who have never attended a Tea Party, it is a non-violent demonstration of the people's frustration with gargantuan government continuing to grow, and consuming everything in sight in order to keep the beast moving. There have been no calls for a revolution, or even a coup d'etat... yet. We are not happy with the government, and we see nothing on the horizon that might mollify us. We are, in typical conservative fashion, expressing our displeasure peacefully.
Conservatives generally accept and support everybody's religious beliefs, but without internalizing those beliefs or adopting them as their own... as long as there is no harm to man or beast in their "worship services". Conservatives may disagree with the practice of "Religion X", but they will not try to stop anybody else from the practice of that religion. Conservatives may believe that anyone without a religion is foolish, but they won't try to force their beliefs on others. If you have chosen to be an atheist, and someone approaches you to proselytize for "The First Church of XYZ", a simple "No thank you." should suffice. A loudly yelled "Get outta my face, Buttlips!" should work equally well, but that approach is a bloody nose looking for a place to happen... and may even initiate some hard feelings. You do not have a right to never see or hear something religious, but if you find it offensive you do have the right not to look or listen. Conservatives also don't believe that you have a right to try to ruin the holidays of those who do have religious convictions.
Conservatives are the folks who will literally stand up for the Constitution, when the left-wingers try to repeal it. Being conservative doesn't mean you have an insatiable desire to consume the seemingly interminable supply of male bovine excrement that political Washington D.C. keeps feeding the nation. We are not mushrooms... if we are kept in the dark and fed BS long enough we will turn bad!
Conservatives believe that our Constitution is the oldest "living" document in the world. But it is fully mature, and needs no further "growth". It is complete and perfect the way it reads today, just as it was 233 years ago. The bad news is that there hasn't been a true conservative in the White House since Ronald Reagan!
That may not be, as my heading claims, "exactly" what a conservative is, but it's close enough to get you thinking about conservatism!