Conservatism? Where art thou?

(from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservatism)

Conservatism, One entry found.

Main Entry: Conservatism, pronunciation

kən-ˈsər-vəˌti-zəm

Function: noun

Date: 1832

1.capitalized a: the principles and policies of a Conservative party b: the Conservative party

2 a: disposition in politics to preserve what is established b: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change ; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)

3: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change

 

I have several questions about this as a philosophy and a political strategy. Clearly when candidates say they are conservative they are referring to 2 but even that definition includes a resistance to change, something the McCain campaign claims it is all about. How can he be both? Can anyone? Is this ‘change’ reference to George W. Bush’s policies? Is change needed because his policies were so bad that people who normally oppose abrupt change have, in fact, embraced something new as a result? Is this definition even relevant? It is from 1832. To get to the bottom of this I dug a little deeper.

This was one site I found, http://www.conservative-resources.com/definition-of-conservative.html — this page says the following:

Just like the definition of liberal, the definition of conservative can be divided into 6 key principles:

  1. Belief in natural law
  2. Belief in established institutions
  3. Preference for liberty over equality
  4. Suspicion of power—and of human nature
  5. Belief in exceptionalism
  6. Belief in the individual

Now, I am not a conservative by any definition. I am a total, unabashed liberal. I believe our government should do for us collectively what we cannot do individually. What I would like to do, and hopefully this isn’t asking too much, is to hear from conservatives. What does it mean to you? Do you fit into any of these categories? Do you feel your beliefs are distorted by the media, covered fairly, not at all? None of the above? How does your view of conservatism guide your political choices and how do you think the current GOP presidential ticket fits in.

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