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Author Topic: What is a conservative?
philnotfil
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This seems to be a pretty comprehensive list of conservative beliefs, although somewhat out of order.

From conservapedia.com

* Limited government and balanced budgets
* Capitalism and free markets
* Classroom prayer
* Prohibition of abortion and respect for human life
* Abstinence education
* Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage
* Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls
* Laws against pornography
* The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
* Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)
* The death penalty
* Parental control of education
* Private medical care and retirement plans
* Canceling failed social support programs
* No world government
* Enforcement of current laws regarding immigration
* Respect for our military ... past and present
* Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming
* Low taxes, especially for families
* Confederationism (less power for the federal government and more for local and state governments)
* A strong national defense


Are there issues that were left off of the list that need to be on it? Are there issues on this list that aren't defining characteristics of conservatives?

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TomDavidson
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While I think that any one of those positions could fairly be characterized as the "conservative" one on that specific issue, I think many self-described conservatives might not necessarily hold -- on any given issue -- that specific position.
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Greg Davidson
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This is a list that puts a positive spin on American views of conservatism (conservatives in the rest of the world do not share American conservatives view of global warming, the relative power for state vs. federal government is often dependent on which serves their ideology better, the ideology is on principle against almost all social programs, because by definition all government programs are failures)

Emphasis on victimization (War on Christmas, etc.)

Distrust of science and experts, particularly where there is a conflict between that science/expertise and cherished beliefs (most conservatives not in America do not reject the broad consensus of the scientific community regarding global warming).

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JWatts
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I think TomDavidson is right. That is a mix of views held by different Conservatives. I doubt it correlates with many conservatives overall.

And Conservapedia tends to be a religious conservative site, so it's not a good basis for a list covering all conservatives.

Classroom prayer - should be School Prayer Choice

And this phrasing is just inflammatory:
"Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming".

And a lot was left off:
Classical Liberalism
Respect for Tradition
Desire for Self-sufficiency
Pro-Nuclear power
Respect for Religion
Desire for Independence
Respect for the Constitution
Rights are not Privileges and vice versa
The Private sector is more efficient than the public sector
Criminals should be punished
Americans have the right to keep the fruit of his own labors.

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Jordan
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quote:
JWatts:
Pro-Nuclear power

I didn't know that was a conservative position in the US, thanks for enlightening me. [Smile]
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Chael
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Jordan: Pro-coal is also a conservative position in the US. It really depends on the individual. [Wink]
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JWatts
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US support for Nuclear power
quote:
Obama's support for nuclear power apparently hasn't done much to change how Democrats view the issue, as a slim majority of 51% favor it, virtually unchanged from last year. Most of the increased support for nuclear energy over the past three years has come among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, who have consistently been more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to favor the use of nuclear energy.
Link

Current support for Nuclear Power:
Democrats: 51%
Republican: 74%

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TomDavidson
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Yeah. Pro-nuclear in lieu of coal is more of a liberal position, but there's a hardcore group of aging liberals who're stuck on the whole "radiating waste" thing and aren't going to budge until they die.

Perhaps it would be fairer to say "pro-power-plant" and "dismissive of environmental concerns" are conservative positions. [Smile]

[ February 25, 2011, 10:50 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
And a lot was left off:

Most of those are independent of political standing, despite how much anyone tries to use spin to suggest that their opponents don't support them.

Also, Democrat/Republican is not even remotely the same as Liberal/Conservative.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Also, Democrat/Republican is not even remotely the same as Liberal/Conservative. [/QB]

This is very difficult for some people to understand.
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edgmatt
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quote:
Perhaps it would be fairer to say "pro-power-plant" and "dismissive of environmental concerns" are conservative positions. [Smile]

Nope. That wouldn't be fair to say at all, and "dismissive of environmental concerns" is not a conservative stance.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
"dismissive of environmental concerns" is not a conservative stance.
I would say "dismissive of environmental concerns" is precisely as fair a position as "Rejection of junk science."
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
"dismissive of environmental concerns" is not a conservative stance.
I would say "dismissive of environmental concerns" is precisely as fair a position as "Rejection of junk science."
And you would be wrong.
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TomDavidson
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Yeah, I'm going to accept your arbitration on that one. [Wink]

Out of interest, though, can you present to me a mainstream conservative environmental position that is not dismissive of the need to protect the environment?

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Yeah, I'm going to accept your arbitration on that one. [Wink]

Out of interest, though, can you present to me a mainstream conservative environmental position that is not dismissive of the need to protect the environment?

I could present it, but you'd never see it. I suggest you try Google.
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TomDavidson
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Go ahead and try. Let's find a major conservative environmental initiative, shall we? One that'll bring some real, quantifiable benefits to an area of the environment neglected by liberal voters.

I'll wait. No hurry. Take your time.

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JWatts
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Do you ever do any research yourself? You are always asking other people for proof, but you never bother proving your own point. That just seems intellectually lazy.
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TomDavidson
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I do quite a bit of research myself. I just don't share it with people, often because it amuses me not to. [Smile] But if you've got an example of a mainstream conservative environmental initiative that addresses something liberals weren't addressing, let me know.

[ February 25, 2011, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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JWatts
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quote:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 3, 1970
There you go, took about 30 seconds.
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TheRallanator
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
This seems to be a pretty comprehensive list of conservative beliefs, although somewhat out of order.

From conservapedia.com

* Limited government and balanced budgets
* Capitalism and free markets
* Classroom prayer
* Prohibition of abortion and respect for human life
* Abstinence education
* Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage
* Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls
* Laws against pornography
* The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
* Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)
* The death penalty
* Parental control of education
* Private medical care and retirement plans
* Canceling failed social support programs
* No world government
* Enforcement of current laws regarding immigration
* Respect for our military ... past and present
* Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming
* Low taxes, especially for families
* Confederationism (less power for the federal government and more for local and state governments)
* A strong national defense


Are there issues that were left off of the list that need to be on it? Are there issues on this list that aren't defining characteristics of conservatives?

That's not conservative beliefs, that's conservative beliefs according to the Conservapedia echo chamber (or to be more precise, conservative beliefs according to site owner Andy Schlafy). And they've got an even worse case of No True Scotsman Syndrome than Free Republic when it comes to denouncing people as not being proper conservatives if they don't agree with the local hive mind on everything.
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TomDavidson
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Are you defining "conservative" as "Republican?"
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Are you defining "conservative" as "Republican?"

Are you saying that Richard Nixon was not conservative?
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flydye
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I would say in many ways Nixon was NOT a Conservative. Doesn't anyone remember Price Freezes?

Hasn't this thread been mentioned about a half a dozen times in the short years I've been here?

[ February 25, 2011, 10:12 PM: Message edited by: flydye ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I do quite a bit of research myself. I just don't share it with people, often because it amuses me not to. [Smile] But if you've got an example of a mainstream conservative environmental initiative that addresses something liberals weren't addressing, let me know.

Look toward Wendel Berry/The Front Porch Republic for at least one significant showing.

You're on a weak point here, because while they're not a loud group, there is enough of an environmentalist presence among conservatives that it can't be dismissed.

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TheRallanator
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Are you defining "conservative" as "Republican?"

We're in Conservapedia country here. "Republican" and "conservative" aren't synonymous because of all those damn RINOs and by gosh wouldn't it be better for America and freedom and Jesus Christ if they all got kicked out by the Tea Party.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
there is enough of an environmentalist presence among conservatives that it can't be dismissed
But here's the thing: are these just "conservatives" who, on this one issue, happen to be fairly "liberal?" I know plenty of pro-choice conservatives, too, and plenty of pro-same-sex-marriage conservatives as well. But no one would claim that being pro-choice was the "conservative" position on that issue.
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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by flydye:
I would say in many ways Nixon was NOT a Conservative. Doesn't anyone remember Price Freezes?

Hasn't this thread been mentioned about a half a dozen times in the short years I've been here?

Nixon also created EPA, engaged in diplomacy with the Soviets, made his famous trip to China, and supported ERA. I think he'd be regarded as RINO now.
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Viking_Longship
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A list of postions is not a political philosophy.

The article Phil is quoting also states

quote:
Alternatively, a conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the morality of the Bible for the benefit of all, recognizing that the Bible is the most logical book ever written.
I doubt this is a position the majority of conservatives really believe. I think the author is going by "this is what I believe, I am conservative, therefore this is what a conservative should believe."

I think the Conservative movement right now is analogous to Protestant Christianity in the first few centuries after the reformation. While Lutherans, Anglicans and Calvinists had little regard for one another they could all agree that Rome was the greatest threat to Christendom.

Paleo-cons don't regard Mainstream Conservatives as true conservatives. Mainstream Conservatives think that Paleo-cons are deluded and unwilling to realize how dangerous the world is ect ect. What they all can agree on is that the Democrats are such a threat that it's better to hold your nose and vote for a Republican from the other faction than to risk one of those "socialists" coming to power.

So ultimately I have to disagree that it's not about Republicans and Democrats. It's just less about loyalty to the GOP than fear of the Democrats (and vice-versa)

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TheRallanator
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
A list of postions is not a political philosophy.

The article Phil is quoting also states

quote:
Alternatively, a conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the morality of the Bible for the benefit of all, recognizing that the Bible is the most logical book ever written.
I doubt this is a position the majority of conservatives really believe. I think the author is going by "this is what I believe, I am conservative, therefore this is what a conservative should believe."
In this case it's "This is what I believe, I am a conservative, therefore anyone who disagrees with me hates basic human decency". I just had a sneak peek at the article's history, and it's one of many articles where Andy Schlafy decided to come down from on high, give everyone the Final Word On The Matter According To Andy Schlafy, and proceed to spend all his spare time reverting edits which contradict him and having editors who disagree with him banned for being stealth liberals.
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Viking_Longship
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Rall that's ironic because the line I quoted is exactly the kind of thing that they like to use as evedence of the stupidity and religous fanatcism of the right on Huffpost.
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philnotfil
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There is a reason why I didn't quote the rest of the article [Smile]

I don't think that the list is completely accurate, but I do think it provides a better starting point for discussing conservatism than a liberal list of what conservatives believe (or the conservapedia entry on what liberals believe as a starting point for discussing liberals).

I find it amusing that the list starts with:
* Limited government and balanced budgets

and then includes:
* Prohibition of abortion
* Laws against pornography
* The death penalty
* Enforcement of current laws regarding immigration
* Low taxes, especially for families
* A strong national defense

A strong national defense doesn't have to conflict with limited and government and balanced budgets, but the current conservative definition of a strong national defense includes a defense budget that is at least double what it needs to be, gets us into land wars in Asia, and brought us the Patriot Act.

There are other similar conflicts between theory and practice on this list. For example, the death penalty. I support the death penalty in theory, but our current practice combines the worst aspects of having a death penalty with the worst aspects of not having a death penalty. We would be better off without what we currently have as the death penalty.

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TheRallanator
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They need to start quoting COnservapedia directly. We're talking a place so utterly mad that they've declared war on Relativity because it's "just a theory" and it's part of the humanist/atheist agenda to use science as a propaganda tool for encouraging moral relativism. Screw Intelligent Design, these guys are apparently pioneers of Intelligent Moving [Big Grin]
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michaellve
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quote:
* Prohibition of abortion and respect for human life
* Abstinence education
* Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage
* Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls
* Laws against pornography
* The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
* Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)
* The death penalty

How is that this brand of conservative can both have a "respect for human life" and believe that the death penalty. Ethically I would think that most people who are against abortion should be against the death penalty, either way it would be ending a human life. If it is only for God to take and create life then that is it, end of story, no abortion and no death penalty. Aren't they the same crime, assuming God's place as the giver and taker of life.
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edgmatt
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I don't necessarily agree with it, but I think the argument is: Someone who commits an atrocity of a certain level, they give up their right to life. The reasoning is that if I brutally murder 2 people, I have the potential to kill more, so it is better to end my life then risk the lives of any other person who is innocent. Someone else could probably articulate that better, but I think that is the jist of it.

Also, michaelle, you changed the political stance into a religious one. There are many religious conservatives who are against the death penalty for exactly the reason you just described. That is the stance I have, and I am a conservative.

HOWEVER, that being said, my daughter was just born on Thursday, and I am keenly aware of the fact that if anyone intentionally killed her or attempted to kill her, I would have exactly 0 hesitation or compunction killing them on the spot. I don't think Christians take the stance of "no killing no matter what". At least I don't.

[ February 26, 2011, 10:49 AM: Message edited by: edgmatt ]

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Viking_Longship
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I think one can take the stance most Buddhists take on killing (although they extend it further) that one can defend oneself but one should do it without emotional agression or the desire to revenge.

edgematt if you follow the link the writer makes little distinction between poltics and religion so I think for this individual it's a valid question.

micheal I think most Christians are syncrotists meaning they retain the parts of the faith they like and integrate them with what they already believe. This is why even in my church and in the Catholic Church their are many members who agree with the church on abortion but reject it on the death penalty, war and social justice.

If one is an evangellical it's not too hard to find support for the death penalty in the Old Testament.

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edgmatt
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Yes. My only point was that a religious stance shouldn't be confused with a political one.

It would be more contradictory for a Christian to be both for the death penalty and against abortion than a Conservative.

The phrase "respect for life" is a little ambiguous. How much respect? Christians tend to be against both abortion and the death penalty, which indicates a deeper "respect" for life if you want to put it that way. Conservatives say we respect life, so no abortions, but there are times where life is forfeit.

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Pyrtolin
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The reason that "respect for life" is ambiguous there that everyone will say they support it, but they'll disagree on what it means. Conservatives on this issue will claim that respecting life means "no abortions" while liberals will claim that it means supporting reproductive choice because the developing fetus does not yet count as distinct life.

On the other hand, death penalty supporters will say that it is out of a desire to promote respect for life that it becomes a necessary tool to remove those that don't show that respect and push others who might otherwise be on the fence into supporting it out of fear of punishment.

[ February 26, 2011, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

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TommySama
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This thread reminds me of a humorous breakdown of the history of philosophy I saw recently. Ornery take of this list:

What does a conservative morality look like without God?
What is a conservative morality?
What is a conservative?

(Funny version)

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Gaoics79
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quote:
But here's the thing: are these just "conservatives" who, on this one issue, happen to be fairly "liberal?" I know plenty of pro-choice conservatives, too, and plenty of pro-same-sex-marriage conservatives as well. But no one would claim that being pro-choice was the "conservative" position on that issue.
Now if this isn't begging the question, I don't know what is.
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Adam Masterman
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I think Tom is correct in general (that people can often have a liberal position in an otherwise conservative ideology), but he's demonstrably wrong about environmental policies in particular. Hunters, fisherman and sportsmen are big on conservation, have been for decades, and come at the issue from a very conservative point of view.
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