What are conservatives... for?

Author: Double_R ,

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  • Double_R
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    Watching right wing media fawn over Rush Limbaugh yesterday really got me thinking about something...

    In one interview Dan Quayle was talking about Rush's ability to speak on conservatism and highlight its virtues, which he summarized about 3 or 4 times as "less taxes, less regulations". In another interview (I did not get the speaker's name) she described conservatism as "not being for handouts, but rather an opportunity to build your own leg up in life".

    Regarding the first interview, what I realize is that "less" anything is a relative term. In order for you to be "for" less of something then someone else must first propose an amount of that thing. In other words this cannot be a value, it's merely opposition to someone else's values.

    But I found the second interview more bothersome, for if this is how conservatism is defined then it is an entire ideology built on opposing a strawman. To define yourself as being against handouts is to assert by definition that anyone who does not share your ideology is for handouts. Setting aside that this completely misrepresents what liberalism is all about, this is more importantly and once again; not a value but merely opposition to someone else's values.

    So I ask, if you are a conservative and you largely agree with what these interviewees had to say... what is your ideology "for"?
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Double_R
    This core strategy of framing their case as what they're against is also heavily utilised by the left-wing media and platforms.

    This 'attack first, defend later' media war-front is much more seen in the 'Western world' whereas Eastern cultures operate either via censorship or defensive media, celebrating achievements, speaking well of the intentions of politicians etc.

    To understand how and why this became a core strategy for politics, you need to observe the actual way the cultures fight real wars in themselves. The 'style' of most nations that use attack-first style media and political platforms, is very similar to how they deploy their military around the world and go about international politics (and vice versa for very 'pleasant, supportive' media nations).

    As for this forum thread's topic, there are fundamentally 3 types of convervative:

    1. The most popular is the 'family first, protect my people first' ethos Conservative. They believe the world is full of threats and want to keep their nation, family and 'people' as well as property safe. Safety is their top priority. They tend to be very religious.
    2. Then we have the pro-nation types. They believe their nation is the best in the world and while in some ways being isolatinist, they are in other ways imperialist, wishing the whole world would bow before their race, creed, culture etc. Pride is their top priority and Respect paid towards their 'people' is indeed very improtant. They also value family as much as the safety-oriented conservatives.
    3. Then we have the Ancaps/Libartarians, who was almost as popular as position 2 and on official surveys often out-populate the nationalists because most nationalists tend to be 'in the closet' about their true agenda. The first problem is that Libertarians often deny they are Ancaps, since Ancaps are much more pragmatic and ruthlessly honest about their agenda, while Libertarians sugarcoat the 'dog eat dog' anti-harmony ethos they are trying to foster behind 'freedom for all' mantra. Libertarians tend to be very naive about what happens when you remove restrictions on the rich and/or normal to prey on the poor and/or minorities. Unrelenting Freedom is their top priority.

  • Bringerofrain
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    Most everyone builds their ideology on straw man's of others as opposed to it standing on it's own merits. 

    My neighbor has a sign that says something like 

    "We support gay rights
    We believe in science
    We believe in equality"

    The whole sign is basically saying their entire ideology is built on a straw man. That is why I have so much respect for communists and libertarians whose views are complete opposites. Their ideologies stand on their own and don't depend on straw man's.

  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Double_R
    racism and fascism....duh...is this a trick question?
  • Greyparrot
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    Libertarians tend to be very naive about what happens when you remove restrictions on the rich and/or normal to prey on the poor and/or minorities.
    Oh Noes! If the Libertarians have their way, Walmart will be at my door oppressing me with...flyers? Shudder at the exploitation!

    Didn't you score below the Authoritarian line on your political quiz?
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Bringerofrain
    Republicans loosely support western values.

    Democrats loosely oppose Western Cultural values.

    I saw Biden on a CNN interview recently explaining why killing Uyghurs is just a different norm of Chinese culture as a response to past western oppression. 

  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Didn't you score below the Authoritarian line on your [sic] political quiz?
    I did, because I don't fancy bowing before a CEO rather than actual national leader. :)

    If you'd like to discuss this properly, I suggest dropping the sardonic tone, it actually is hard to understand your genuine point at times vs what you're joking about.

    [sic] ~ it was not my quiz, I did not claim to have made either.
  • Greyparrot
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    I think you are naive about what Scrooge McDuck can do to you oppressively in a nation filled with private lawyers waiting to sign you up on the next class-action lawsuit.
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    I am not underestimating at all, especially not if said nation is Libertarian/Ancap.
  • Sum1hugme
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      It's my understanding that Conservatism entails an originalist reading of the Constitution. And the idea of "conserving" the Constitution is where the name comes from.
  • Greyparrot
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    Libertarians utilize the army of private sector Lawyers to regulate oppressors instead of a single Congressman. It's a subtle but major difference because it decentralizes regulation and makes it way more efficient and less corrupt. In fact, much of the so-called regulations being passed are actually either protections for the ultra-rich against private sector regulation, or a means to extort their competition. (Same old Washington DC Protection/Extortion racket played since FDR)

    As a glaring example, take a long hard look at how Section 230 came to be as a shield for the tech giants against the oppressed minorities. 

    This is why centralized regulation is typically crony, inefficient and oppressive to minorities. 
  • oromagi
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    --> @Double_R
    Watching right wing media fawn over Rush Limbaugh yesterday really got me thinking about something...

    In one interview Dan Quayle was talking about Rush's ability to speak on conservatism and highlight its virtues, which he summarized about 3 or 4 times as "less taxes, less regulations". In another interview (I did not get the speaker's name) she described conservatism as "not being for handouts, but rather an opportunity to build your own leg up in life".

    Regarding the first interview, what I realize is that "less" anything is a relative term. In order for you to be "for" less of something then someone else must first propose an amount of that thing. In other words this cannot be a value, it's merely opposition to someone else's values.

    But I found the second interview more bothersome, for if this is how conservatism is defined then it is an entire ideology built on opposing a strawman. To define yourself as being against handouts is to assert by definition that anyone who does not share your ideology is for handouts. Setting aside that this completely misrepresents what liberalism is all about, this is more importantly and once again; not a value but merely opposition to someone else's values.

    So I ask, if you are a conservative and you largely agree with what these interviewees had to say... what is your ideology "for"?
    I see little overlap between the modern Republican and American Conservatism.  John Paul Stevens liked to illustrate the radical shift in American politics during his lifetime by reminding people that he was nominated as the most conservative Justice on the Supreme Court and retired as the most liberal Justice on the Supreme Court without once changing his mind on any political principle.

    Russell Kirk's Ten Principles of Conservatism offers

    1. First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.
    2. Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
    3. Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.
    4. Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.
    5. Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
    6. Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.
    7. Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
    8. Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
    9. Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.
    10. Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.
    Going by these principles we might successfully argue that the last four Democratic presidents were all more conservative than the last four Republican presidents.  American political parties traditionally update and confirm their core ideology at their respective national conventions every four years with the exception of the Republican's 2020 convention- which saw no value in representing any kind of ideological attachment (2016 presaged this change by simply adopting the 2012 platform minus all three condemnations of Russian aggression and autocracy, true story).

  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    You are either being extremely sarcastic (which backfires on your side of the argument) or are an extremely confused individual. Either way, it serves me 0 benefit to reply to you from this point onwards in this thread.
  • Greyparrot
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    Okay sorry, I thought you knew alot about Section 230. My bad.
  • bmdrocks21
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    --> @Double_R
    Well the modern Republican party isn't conservative. They have conceded on most social issues. Since Reagan, "conservatism" has been about low taxes and small government-nothing else.

    While minimizing taxes and federalism are part of what it means to be an American conservative, they are really only a small part of it.

    It is about promoting a strong family, strong communities, defending the Constitution/having an originalist interpretation of it, monoculturalism rather than multiculturalism, religious/moral laws and attitudes, among other things.

    The whole free trade obsession shenanigans are a recent, poor development in the party. Historically, the Republican party supported large tariffs.
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @bmdrocks21
    Would you say that you agree with my earlier post in this thread? I am curious if you and I both perceive the Conservative outlook the same. I agree with what you just wrote.
  • Bringerofrain
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    --> @bmdrocks21
    Conservatism is an inherently losing ideology. They continue to try to hold onto the status quo and when liberals change the status quo, than they just seek to preserve that one instead. 

    I think the republican party is starting to realize they need to pander to conservatives while actually just making token efforts at conservatism to keep those voters. 

    Both parties are nearly identical. In fact Trump was basically a democrat, liberals even agreed with the policies he pushed, but only opposed them when he became the voice of them.

    The media would have you believe Trump was a extreme right winger. In all honesty establishment politicians only opposed him because of his lack of decorum. Had he cared about decorum he would be very loved by the media and establishment politicians. 

    The same thing is going to happen to biden. A lot of Biden's policies look similar to Trump's but now republicans will oppose them to give the facade of actually having a 2 party system, when in reality he was just elected to passify the left wing elements of the democratic party. 

    Tldr, both parties pander to their radical element and promise change while continually acting like moderates who have policies with merely cosmetic differences.







  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Double_R
    as "less taxes, less regulations". In another interview (I did not get the speaker's name) she described conservatism as "not being for handouts, but rather an opportunity to build your own leg up in life".
    I don't think that is conservatism.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    I don't think that is conservatism.
    It isn't. Conservatism today means conserving traditional values from the enlightened thinkers of Western Civilization that the founding fathers created the country on.

    Liberalism is today focused on ramming postmodernist bullshit down our throats in an effort to destroy those western proscribed values.
  • zedvictor4
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    --> @Double_R
    Conservatives are for an inherited conservatism....A conservatism that doesn't necessarily want to keep pace with the demands and needs of a changing World, or cede power to a changing society......Conversely though, a  World and society Conservatives seem necessarily  intent on changing.

    Something of a dilemma.

    Clever people, just rebrand.....But old traditions die hard for some.


  • Double_R
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Conservatism today means conserving traditional values from the enlightened thinkers of Western Civilization that the founding fathers created the country on.
    And what values would those be?
  • Double_R
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    --> @Bringerofrain
    Most everyone builds their ideology on straw man's of others as opposed to it standing on it's own merits. 

    My neighbor has a sign that says something like 

    "We support gay rights
    We believe in science
    We believe in equality"
    This is not the same.

    It is true that every ideology requires opposition, otherwise it’s just stating the obvious (belief in science being an example).

    It is also true that many people do strawman their opposition, that’s not relevant to the question here. It wasn’t me describing conservatism as “being against hand outs” that was the self described conservative being interviewed. That matters in this conversation since the point is for conservatives to define their own ideology.

    But more importantly, on that point about less taxes and less regulations... this is where it gets incoherent to me. This is not an unusual characterization of conservative principals, but unlike “belief in science”, this isn’t a principal at all. One may need opposition to science in order to consider their belief in science an ideology, but absent that opposition they can still believe in science.

    Less taxes and less regulations in contrast, cannot be held at all without someone first proposing taxes and regulations. The only position one could take to make this coherent would be total anarchy, but I’ve never heard a prominent conservative figure take that position and I don’t think it would be tenable they did. So I’m back to square one.

  • Bringerofrain
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    --> @Double_R
    Everyone believes in science. The sign in this instance was just an attack on conservatives accusing them of not believing in science by claiming to believe in science. 

    On the other hand. You are right. "Less taxes" is not an ideology.  

    It's just like with these covid "lock downs" . Liberals will claim to be following science when in fact science does not say how we should balance risk reward scenarios. 
  • bmdrocks21
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    --> @Bringerofrain
    I don't buy that they are essentially the same party. Trump pushed for a public charge rule, limited refugees drastically, had a remain in Mexico policy, supported a wall, and supported a keystone pipeline.

    Biden is the opposite of all of that and wants to put strong restrictions on firearms, which the Democrat Congress supports and GOP opposes.

    There is a liberal wing of the Republican party and conservative (relatively speaking) wing of the Democrat party, and they make up a rather large portion of Congress and are fairly similar in beliefs.

    There are a handful of issues the parties disagree on (guns being probably the biggest one), but the majority of Republicans couldn't reasonably be called "conservatives"
  • bmdrocks21
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    @RM

    I'd agree with a lot of that. I'd say numbers one and two are conservative (although #2 is a little bit of a strawman), however I have never really considered libertarians to be conservative.

    Maximizing freedom, aka libtertarianism, is more of a classical liberal stance. They are about maximizing freedom, as you said, while conservatives put order first and freedom second, as Russell Kirk put it.