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Whats wrong with the term "conservative"?

Posted by Chance on February 24, 2006

I have grown up my entirely life under the conservative label, and while I agree with conservatives on many, many things, I dislike the label itself, and the ideology that can often go along with it. Conservative, by definition, means resistant to change. If you examine Republicans and conservative thought, it typically holds to traditional American values. In the realm of morality, conservatives typically want to preserve standards of decency and fight against the rising tide of Hollywood values. In the realm of economics, conservatives believe in a capitalistic system reflecting the Protestant work ethic and decry the rise of the welfare state. Also, conservatives have trust in more government power when it comes to the balance of civil liberties vs. national security. Conservatives don’t believe so much in a change of values in America, but more of a resistance to the change of values that seems to be going on in the nation.

The past year or so I have read much libertarian literature, and while libertarians are a type of hybrid between Democrats and Republicans, I feel in some sense that libertarians are conservatives who have a strong desire for change, and they are more politically passionate. While I don’t agree with everything in the libertarian party, I do share their dissatisfaction with many aspects of U.S. government and their desire for fundamental changes in U.S. policy.

There are a few examples of this. In public education, conservatives want to have public schools continue to teach traditional American values, and this is great, but I think they are going through the wrong avenue, which is the current public school system of today. Libertarians want school choice. They don’t want to keep the public school system and values of the past, they want to overhaul the system through eliminating government monopolies on the minds of young kids. Even many libertarian-minded Christians realize the folly of using a one-size-fits-all public school policy to teach any values to our kids. They realize that the answer is not to simply make the system teach different values, but to change the system entirely, so that parents can send their kids to the school of their choice.

Another example is economic matters. Conservatives focus on lower tax rates, but I don’t feel that they want to change the way business is done. Libertarians want to change things in the business world on every level from local to federal. They see how an over-regulated economy can actually decrease opportunity for the poor and rich alike.

Libertarians take the same sense of compassion for the poor and a desire for social change that many Democrats share, but it is in a different direction. Libertarians are warriors for the individual, for opportunity. Their sense of morality is not always agreeable with everyone, but they are for freedom.

Libertarians and Democrats are both passionate groups. However, the Democrats see the problems of the world and say “more government”. The Libertarians see the problems of the world and say “more freedom.”

How many times do you hear conservatives and liberals talk about freedom? We always hear about how some politician wants to pass a law to regulate that or this or how some constituency needs special protection. But when is the last time you heard a politician talk about an individuals freedom, when it was not referring to the so-called “right” to an abortion. Who talks about defending the constitution any more?

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