You’ve heard the terms ‘faux’ and ‘pseudo’ conservative, but who are they … what are they? No doubt all of you conservatives out there have been the victims of bias in some form or another, and have been frustrated at the blatant lies about what conservative beliefs really are. You most likely share my frustration towards those around you who think they understand what conservatives stand for. Like me, you know they are almost always wrong about your beliefs. Yet the lies and ignorance continue to rear their ugly heads every time you listen to a liberal talk, write, or even sing about the evil conservatives.
In the speeches I’ve given I always try to address this point. I’ll ask everyone if they share my frustration about the falsehoods of what conservatives stand for, and they always say yes. Then I ask them what it is that conservatives really do stand for, and can they articulate that to those around them. Blank stares usually fill the room at this point.
When someone says conservatives hate the environment, children, the elderly, the poor, minorities, women, and homosexuals … how do you counter that? Do you even try to? These are the most common attacks against conservatives based on falsehoods. You should be able to explain them away, but so many of you don’t. How can people ever understand what conservatives stand for if you never tell them?
Next, I ask the audience to tell me what a conservative is. Amazingly, most of them can’t tell me. Conservatism is not like porn. There is no ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ element applied to it. Conservatism is real, and concrete in its values. There’s no room for interpretation of its core principles.
I’ve seen many attempts to explain what conservative beliefs are, but few actually address the core principles. Usually, they are both wrong anyway … because they are being explained by someone who isn’t a conservative. Sometimes they are way too philosophical in their attempt to explain what conservatives believe. This comes off as an overreaching attempt to seem dignified, and it ignores the core principles.
Unlike most other political philosophies, conservatism isn’t a religion. Nor do you have to be religious to be conservative. In fact, that’s one of the most incorrect myths of conservatism. Conservatives have core principles, and we do not support those who abandon them. But what are those core principles?
I will attempt to list those principles for you in this piece, and I’ll follow with some myth debunking as well. Please understand, I’m only attempting to list the core principles that are universal among conservatives. There are undoubtedly many other beliefs conservatives hold on their own as individuals … beliefs that most conservatives may share. Those beliefs, while common, are not core principles of being conservative, however.
Conservative Core Principles
- Non-Invasive Government
When asked what conservatives believe, most will immediately say small government. However, they are using the improper wording. Conservatives believe in non-invasive government. Usually a non-invasive government is small in scope, but it’s not the size of government that conservatives harp against. A small government that happened to be invasive would be contrary to core conservative principles. Likewise, a large but non-invasive government that sticks to its proper functions wouldn’t violate conservative principles.
- Strict Adherence To The United States Constitution
This is the most important principle of conservatism in the United States. There is nothing that ranks above adherence to the Constitution. So why did I list this second? The US Constitution sets up a non-invasive government. The fact that our government has become very invasive illustrates the greatest violation of our greatest core principle. Conservatives believe there is absolutely no negotiation when it comes to the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights are never to be touched, altered, or interpreted. Any other changes to the Constitution itself, or our laws, must be done in strict adherence to the Constitution itself.
- Low Taxes
The enemies of conservatism (socialists, Marxists, and communists) constantly try to spin this issue to mean conservatives are against all taxes … not true. Conservatives believe taxes should only be enough to cover the founders’ stated function of our government. We are to keep the fruits of our labors. The average American (who pays taxes) loses nearly 50% of their income to taxation of some form. Conservatives understand the need for roads, defense, first responders, etc., but your hard earned money is going for new cars for members of congress. That is flat out theft. The more of your money you keep, the better you and your family can live.
- Fair Taxes
Everyone in the United States should pay an equal portion of their income for taxes because everyone in the United States utilizes services paid for by taxes. To say that some should pay taxes while others do not is simply unfair, and blatant theft. Since we all partake in those services … we should all pay an equal portion of our salary for those services.
- A Well-Funded Military
It always amuses me when people say conservatives are against all taxes, and then in the next breath deride the conservative for their support of the military. The military, in case you didn’t know, is funded via taxation. Conservatives believe the military to be extremely important for many reasons. We want to spare no expense to ensure our military is the best trained and equipped fighting force on this planet, but we also expect them to be good stewards of our money. Advanced technology is worth the money because it will ensure more of our men and women come home safely.
- Personal Choice
This novel idea is inseparable from the valued conservative ideals … freedom and liberty. Conservatives believe you should have the right to choose openly … always. Don’t like your child’s school? Choose another. Don’t want a small fuel-efficient car? Choose another. Don’t like your utility company? Choose another. Don’t want to eat health food? Choose another. Don’t like your insurance company? Choose another. Limiting that choice is an affront to the basic principles of freedom and liberty. Our government has limited our choices. We can’t pick our child’s school. We can’t buy insurance from another state. The government is even trying to take away our choice to eat and drive what we want.
- Personal Responsibility
Conservatism dictates that you are responsible for yourself and your family … no one else. No one else is responsible for you or your family either. If you want to eat, have shelter, drive a car, and buy nice things … you must work for them all by yourself. To expect someone else to provide for you is sloth, and theft.
- Free Market Competition
This is paired with personal choice mentioned earlier. Aside from ensuring minimal safety standards, the government should have no influence in the free market system. If a company makes a product, we are free to choose to buy it or not. If we choose another company’s product over this one … then you didn’t compete well enough. The free market is an amazing thing. Conservatives understand that competition leads to advancement in quality, selection, and even better prices. If a company can’t compete, for whatever reason, they will go out of business. Conservatives believe that banks who don’t manage money as well as their competitors should not be saved. Same goes for car and mortgage companies.
- Equal Opportunity
Conservatives believe every person is capable of equal greatness, and every person should be given equal opportunity to pursue that greatness. Every person, however, is not guaranteed that greatness. Allowing certain segments of the population to have extra assistance, benefits, and opportunities is not equal opportunity … it’s unequal, and usually biased. You should only be guaranteed an equal chance … not an equal result.
- Personal Property Rights
Conservatives believe their property is … well … theirs. This shocking revelation that offends so easily nowadays is a founding principles of the United States. What you earn is yours, and you are not obligated to share with anyone else if you don’t wish to. Back in the day, when you owned your house … you owned your house. You purchased the land underneath it, built or purchased the home on top of your land, and then you owned it. You were free to do as you wished with your land and your home, and no one could take it away. Now, you buy the land, you buy the home, but it can be taken away from you if you don’t trim the bushes (on your land) well enough for some dweeb somewhere. If you own your home and land outright, it can still be taken away by the government if you don’t pay taxes on any service provided by the government. Conservatives believe if you own it … it’s yours. No one should be allowed to take it from you.
- Personal Defense
Conservatives believe you have a right to protect your person, family, and property with force. If you shoot someone who is on your property stealing from you … you aren’t the bad guy. You didn’t seek an altercation, and you shouldn’t be required to rely upon other people to solve this problem. If anyone comes into your home, or assaults you, you should have the right to defend yourself with deadly force without prosecution.
- Limited Welfare
Conservatives believe welfare is a temporary safety net for able-bodied workers. Conservatives believe in taking care of those that can’t take care of themselves, but able-bodied people should only have access to that safety net for a temporary period of time. Opinions on how to handle this problem are numerous among conservatives, but conservatives all agree that welfare should not be a perpetual benefit of not working.
- The United States of America Is A Republic
While this may seem redundant to the strict adherence to the Constitution mentioned earlier … I felt it necessary to mention. Recently, in Texas, new curriculum was approved for schools. Democrats and liberals were furious over the fact that US Government classes would teach that the government of the United States was republic, not democratic. The US was, in fact, founded as a republic … which stands for equal representation and rule of law. A democratic government stands for majority rule without equal representation for those in the minority.
I believe those to be the absolute core principles of conservatism. As I said before, there are many other beliefs that conservatives tend to share, but I don’t think they are core principles for all conservatives. Conservatives may even disagree with the implementation of some of our core principles. For instance, there are differing views on how to limit welfare, and some conservatives do not believe that you should use deadly force against a burglar. All conservatives, however, agree that there needs to be limited welfare, and that you should have the right of self-defense. Disagreeing on some issues is natural, and should be met with open arms. It’s the core principles that are the concrete foundation of conservatism. You’ll never find a conservative without the principles I’ve listed here.
Unfortunately, many faux conservatives have taken up arms against true conservatives for not agreeing with them 100% of the time on issues beyond these core principles. A true conservative would never take that approach. This tactic has given aid to the enemies of conservatism (perhaps by design), and has perpetuated many myths of conservatism.
Conservatives face a great deal of myth about their beliefs every day. I’d like to take a moment and address some of them below.
Myths of Conservative Beliefs
- Conservatives Hate The Poor
Nothing could be further from the truth. Conservatives fully believe in Lao Tzu’s quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Asking the poor to pay their fare share for utilizing services is not hatred … it’s equality. Demanding the poor not pay for services they utilize, and asking others to pay for it instead is hatred and theft. Creating a system that makes it impossible, or at least undesirable, for the poor to better themselves is hatred and oppression. Motivating them to work harder, better themselves, and giving them the opportunity to advance is love. That’s the conservative’s view of the poor. How ironic conservatives are called the enemy of the poor while the poor redneck southern conservative is attacked for being poor.
- Conservatives Hate Minorities
The most laughable claim of all. Conservatives opposed slavery, were willing to go to war to free the slaves, and they died doing so. Conservatives have been, and continue to be, the tip of the spear for minority rights. Conservative beliefs are all catered to benefit the poor and minorities. Lower taxes, less invasive government, equal opportunity, personal choice, free markets … what minority doesn’t want those things? Conservatives don’t believe in giving minorities benefits that others don’t get, and we don’t believe in separating them out into groups. Conservatism’s goal is to give minorities the tools to succeed on their own merit, because we believe they have merit. Telling a minority they can’t do it on their own without help is stating that you think they are inferior in some way. This simply isn’t true. Conservatives don’t even like the term minority … they are Americans. They deserve the same chance at success as everyone else, and like everyone else they deserve to have a temporary safety net if they fall.
- Conservatives Are Religious
A lot of conservatives are, but not all of us. Many conservatives hold no faith. Religion is not a core principle of conservatism at all. In fact, sometimes they are at odds with one another, but never when it comes to the core principles. The religious right is just that … the religious right … not conservative. By religious right, I mean the fanatical religious zealots. Not the typical American of faith. The religious right is often at odds with the core conservative principles because they put their faith above the Constitution, and attempt to apply it to others who do not wish it.
- Conservatives Are Against Abortion
The vast majority are, but it isn’t a core principle to believe that life begins at conception. Conservatives, however, do favor the science of life, and that science supports the pro-life movement in the vast majority of circumstances. Conservatives also tend to be supportive of abortion if the mother’s life is in danger. The pro-life crowd is typically not. Although medical science has all but eliminated the necessity to make that choice. With conservatives … they oppose the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling on abortion, and call for it to be overturned. Why? Not because they are pro-life, but because the ruling was unconstitutional and illegal.
- Conservatives Hate The Environment
Yes, I know, conservatives really do hate clean water and air. Give me a break. If conservatives hate our environment being clean then why are conservatives always more clean than hippies? If you ask me, they seem to like things dirty, not us. Conservatives believe in the science in dealing with the environment. To date, the majority of the science does not support man-made global warming. There never has been a majority of scientists who did believe we were responsible for the now defunct warming trends. Conservatives support the cleanest form of mass energy on the planet … nuclear. We support high mileage cars. We just don’t want to give up our powerful engines and functionality to get a car that doesn’t fit our lifestyle because of a myth. We also wonder why Ford can’t sell its 62.5 mpg car in the US because of excessive taxes on its clean burning fuel. Does anyone really think a 50 mpg SUV wouldn’t sell in the US? Conservatives also tend to be outdoors people. The environmentalists always seem to be city-slickers. Who do you think is a better steward of the environment; someone who spend a good portion of their lives enjoying the outdoors and nature, or someone who rarely sets foot outdoors?
- Conservatives Are Against Equal Pay For Women
Nonsense! In fact, the studies that show women make less than men always fail to factor in children, time off, and women leaving the workforce to tend to their family. If everything is 100% equal between a man and woman … meaning she won’t have any kids, and take time off for family … then the company should pay them both equally based on their performance. I have never met a conservative who thinks otherwise. The reality is, however, that women tend to have babies and take time out of the workforce. Therefore, she will not be as solid an asset to the company as a man would in many circumstances.
- Conservatives Are The Enemy Of Children
Considering NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) is a liberal group, and conservatives tend to be the champions of family values … I find this amusing. Conservatives catch flak for being the enemy of children because of education funding mostly. We oppose wasteful spending on education that doesn’t work. We support reverting back to a system similar to the one we had before the Department of Education. A system that is universally recognized as being superior to our current system which has been in decline since its implementation. Conservatives actually support education of children more than anyone else, and we are willing to make changes to see our kids get the best education possible. Conservatives also support school choice, school competition, and schools having more control over their budget. All will improve a child’s education.
- Conservatives Hate The Elderly
Sorry mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa … I guess conservatives hate you and want you to die. This has been in the playbook for decades to attack conservatives. It’s not rooted in any fact, and has no validity. Conservatism is the best friend of the elderly American. The most notable reason why is our core principle of personal choice. You should be able to choose your doctor and pharmacy … along with anything else. Opponents of conservatism don’t want seniors to have that choice. Conservative beliefs of personal property rights would protect seniors from losing their homes when they retire, and take a hit to their income. That, along with conservative low tax principles, would allow more money to remain in a retiree’s hands to do with as they see fit. Let’s not forget about a non-invasive government leaving them alone, and not telling them where they have to live or whether they can live at all.
- Conservatives Are All Republican
Not even remotely close. Traditional Democrats are conservative as well, and Republicans are often not conservative. Republicans change their beliefs on a semi-frequent basis to draw votes. Conservatives always carry the core values with them. Just because the Republican Party most closely adheres to conservative values than the modern Democrat Party doesn’t mean they are one in the same. When conservatives accurately point out that the majority of Americans see themselves as conservative … they aren’t saying that the majority of Americans are Republican. Many Americans are conservative, but have no party allegiance.