Month: February 2017

How would you define conservatism?

A recent survey from Gallup found that the United States remains an overwhelmingly conservative country, with conservatives outnumbering liberals in 44 states, tied in just two, and lagging in only four. Although the gap has narrowed in some regions, conservatives still enjoy at least a 20-point advantage in 13 states (Alabama is fifth, where we outnumber liberals by a whopping 30 points). With so many Americans calling themselves conservative, one would assume its definition would be simple to explain. One would be wrong. Conservatism, as a word, doesn’t fully describe the many aspects of our philosophy. Some of its principles and processes aren’t “conservative” at all, just as modern liberalism is often quite illiberal. That makes defining conservatism incredibly difficult. So much so that, as pointed out in the National Review, when its founder William F. Buckley was asked to define the term for a book titled What is Conservatism?, the usually confident and always prolific writer produced an essay sheepishly titled “Notes toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism; Reluctantly and Apologetically Given by William F. Buckley.” If Buckley couldn’t do it, then nobody can ... yet others have tried. “What is conservatism?” Abraham Lincoln asked. “Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried.” Yes, but conservatism also seeks variety, preferring creativity to centralization, and there’s nothing old and tried about what happens within a vibrant free market. Just ask the buggy whip industry. Conservatism also “understands the important role that traditions, institutions, habits,…