I figure it is only fair to define a Conservative now that I have gone to great lengths to define a Liberal. I am going to go through the same basic steps I did with the first mini-series on "Liberal."
Conservative as an adjective originated in the 14th century, long before the Republican Party, Federalists, and Democratic Party. According to Merriam Webster dictionary the word is defined as, "Of or constituting a political party professing the principles of conservatism; tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions; marked by moderation or caution; practicing conservative Judaism." (Conservative, 2009)
So let us break this down and see what if any of this applies to me in particular. Since I am a professing Libertarian the first part would not apply; the second may apply except I disdain the status quo and tend to look for more modern, up to date methods of doing things. As I dislike stagnation and the idea of hanging on too beliefs that are quite outdated the second would definitely not apply. As for the third portion, I am somewhat cautious in life, if only to be sure of a plan before implementing it, so in this case it does apply partially. Lastly, I am not Jewish, I do not follow a religious credo, or path so this would not apply either.
As a word defined it is simply to be conservative, unfortunately this definition means that anyone who grabs hold of that word as a definition of themselves are in fact admitting their inability to change, or unwillingness to adapt to the times. "A thing moderately good is not as good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice." Thomas Paine, the Rights of Man 1791. Even our founding fathers thought that it is wise to change at times, for without change stagnation occurs and with it the eventual deterioration of the nation. As PatrickHenry stated, in his Speech at the First Continental Congress, Philadelphia 1774, "I am not a Virginian, but an American." Which can be meant in one-way, pride in oneself and ones choices is a good thing; however, as a nation it is important to remember we are all Americans. Each of us has been granted the rights to agree or disagree on many levels simply because we are Americans!
The problem with the definition of the word conservative is that it relates back to the word conservatism, which means, "A disposition in politics to preserve what is established. Alternatively, A political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs. Lastly it is the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change." (Conservatism, 2009) I agree with the portions regarding investing, and taking care of ones own issues etc. however, I disagree with never changing. In the case of the Constitution it is the foundation of this nation, however even the conservative side of the political spectrum has perverted it to fit its needs. Change has occurred and now is set in stone for many of the conservative mindset.
What happened to liberty, justice, and freedom for ALL? I can see how being a "conservative" is attractive, however, I can also see how resting in traditions that no longer fit can be destructive to a nation such as ours. Look to the immigration "problem" and we see this. "Rather than quarrel about territory, let the poor. The needy, and oppressed of earth, and those who want land, resort to the fertile plains of our western country, the second land of promise, and there dwell in peace, fulfilling the first and greatest commandment." George Washington To David Humphreys July 25, 1785. Modern Americans think that "immigration" is a bad thing--however, who has actually looked at the problems with the system that make it harder to be a citizen than is at times possible to follow. It is OUR system that must be changed, not immigration banned.
Lastly we should read what Thomas Jefferson said to John Adams (January 22, 1821) "How easily we prescribe for others a cure for their difficulties, while we cannot cure our own." Sure, I could be seen as partially conservative, or I could be seen as a freedom loving, constitution supporting, American who believes in no god, and supports the equal rights of all citizens!
I end with this final quotation from one of my favorite founding fathers, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." Thomas Paine Common Sense- 1776. Even today, this is true, but for the fighting of the citizens and brothers of this nation. Stop fighting about ideological differences, start looking to what makes each side important, and what can be the determinate to each side as well. Let us work together and fix what is broken.
Conservative. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved August 30, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservative
Conservatism. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved September 4, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservatism