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Since Conservatives have been doing a lot of "soul searching" lately -- trying to figure out who they are, and what they stand for -- I thought we should try to lend them a hand.

Because afterall what are "friends and colleagues" for, if not to give some helpful feedback, on those "rare occasions" when, they might be actually desperate enough to hear it.

So let's give it a whirl, shall we ...

What is a Conservative?

A Conservative is someone who wants nothing in Government to change (long as they are in charge.)

A Conservative thinks the world should never change, society should never change, and if they could somehow dial everything back to the 1950's -- where Ward Clever was King, and Ronald Reagan was hawking lightbulbs for GE -- that everything in the world would be just swell.

In in word, a Conservative wants everything to be "just peachy" again -- like when they were kids.

What is their Biggest Problem?

Oh so many options, so little time.

If I had to boil it down:  Conservatives Biggest Problem is that they think the Role of Government is that it should have No Role.

That once they finally get to turn back the clock to "Peachy-ville" -- what Bill O'Reilly fondly recalls as Levittown, back in his formative years --

that then at that magic moment, Government should just Quit.

Finish. Done.  Call Grover to put it out of its misery. The Conservatives have finally found their Nirvana.

Well, I know there may be as many opinions on this topic, as there are Americans. So have at it, lend our fellow citizens a hand.  Someone needs to help them move all those "brick walls" out of the way ... if they are ever to arrive anywhere at all ...

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Comment Preferences

  •  What you have done here (9+ / 0-)

    is define conservatism as  is played out by folks who call themselves conservative. Sadly it bears no resemblance to to actual conservatism. If we actually had a conservative party here in the US it would be a good thing. First and foremost we would then have two parties actually interested in governing and the concept of checks and balances would actually function as designed.

    The 47% also "pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more" but when Romney does it he thinks it's a virtue, while when they do it, he thinks they are deadbeats.

    by jsfox on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:02:21 AM PST

    •  we have a rare moment in time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      to hold up a mirror to them.

      I'm thinking we should take it.

      Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
      -- Here's how.

      by jamess on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:05:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Given the Dysfunctional Economy We've Built, (4+ / 0-)

      there must be a party of plutocracy, and it's going to absorb any conservative party.

      American conservatism has always stood for allowing enough wealth concentration to allow it to push us, sooner or later, over the cliff back to plutocracy with most people working poor.

      Our system design was archaic the day it was released, it was significantly less adapted to its times than many of the ideas of the framers, such as Jefferson who felt that freedom from monopoly should be a basic human right. But that's too futuristic an economic concept for the system we got.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:15:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Correct! NT (0+ / 0-)


      "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

      by thresholder on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:53:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Conservative (3+ / 0-)

    Believes that government can do nothing right, but...
    ...but wants their Social Security check on time
    ...wants their medical bills fully covered by Medicare
    ...want FDIC insurance on their bank account
    ...wants the military to fight like Rambo
    ...wants their road maintained in good condition
    ...wants immediate excellent fire, police, and emergency medical response
    ...and more FOR THEM

  •  Bit dismissive, no? (5+ / 0-)

    True conservatism is a valuable check to societal change.  It is an effort to recognize and preserve the value of the traditions and social mores that go into making us who we are.  (The desire to roll back the clock to times gone by would be Reactionism.  The difference between a Conservative and a Reactionary is the same as a Liberal and a Revolutionary)

    Conservatism attempts to stop or slow the "change for the sake of change" mentality and makes us pause to think about the distinction about the new things we COULD do versus the new things we SHOULD do.

    It a cherishing of our identity, individually and collectively, with a desire to preserve it.  

    It, like liberal progression, is never 100% correct and should lose a fair number, if not most, of the "battles" it wages to preserve the status quo. But the conversations and deliberations that take place as major progression is slowed can be valuable to a society and help smooth transitional times so society is not an endless sequence of revolutionary changes that begin to feel arbitrary and fad-based.

    And do not label the hackneyed close-minded degenerency that is on display in this country as "true conservatism".  There is such a things as progressive conservatism.  It has had a fair amount of success elsewhere such as in Canada, Germany, and the UK.  I'd say the closest we've ever come to it here in the US was the Eisenhower Administration.

    I wish we had a true conservative party here in the US.  It would make our political discourse that much more robust and grounded.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:21:41 AM PST

    •  The problem with this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as I see it, your definition is hardly any more admirable or positive that the diary author.  Especially since the history of the country is founded on  blind nationalism and mythology.  I actually think that is the HEART of what is causing conservatism to fail.  They still absolutely believe that the ends will always justify the means because this is AMerica, damn it, and AMerica is good and great and exceptional.

      There is no reality here.  No logic or evidence or even fact-based policy making.  Just myth and blind nationalism.  ANd when your party seems founded on loyalty to something that doesn't really exist and has no connection to real-world evidence, you are doomed to failure.

      THe same is true of the conservative belief that government is always bad and the free market is always good.  The free market is another myth.  I call it the economic unicorn because so many seem to think it is perfect and good and yet it has literally never existed in the history of human civilization.  So pursuing it while ignoring any and all negatives because, again, they believe the ends justify the means, is insanity.

      •  You are oversimplifying (0+ / 0-)
        Especially since the history of the country is founded on  blind nationalism and mythology.
        Founded on Nationalism?  What country isnt?  How would you FOUND a nation without nationalistic sentiments?  That sounds less like a nationstate and more like an LLC.  And hyper-nationalism is only recently been part of Conservative doctrine.  Go back a few hundred years and that was a bastion of liberal movements (The French Revolution comes to mind.)

        And the comparisons you are so grandly making are not to liberalism or any kind of democratic process, American or otherwise, it is Utopia.

        Equality has never existed either.  We think it is perfect and good and it has never existed in the history of human civilization.  Neither has Peace in any larger sense of the word.  ...yet I don't plan on relinquishing my hopes and efforts to move toward either.

        And "government is always bad" is an extreme untenable position that is not part of Conservatism.  That sounds more like Anarchy.  Because our current minority party likes to trot the phrase out to prey on the disillusioned does not make it "conservative".  

        The diarist wanted to reflect on "Conservatism" in the abstract as originally articulated by the likes of Burke and Chateaubriand.  The Catholic Church's Rerum Novarum would be an example of conservatism about preserving traditional values in the face of the Industrial Revolution.  In the 20th century I would label Winston Churchill a conservative without ascribing to him more then a fraction of the absurdity we see in today's American GOP.  

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:20:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I am oversimplifying. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I still essentially stand by my point.  And when I talk about blind nationalism and why it is a problem, I would encourage you to read the brilliant George Orwell essay, "notes on nationalism" to understand what I am talking about.   You can read it for free here:

          Keep in mind this was written back in the 40s and pretty much sums up modern conservatism.  BUt I do agree (and it is my point as well) that "hyper-nationalism" is a long standing problem not always associated with any one party.  Just that today, it is associated with the Republicans and conservatives.  

          While we can reflect on what defines conservatives going back to the days of lincoln, that isn't what we are dealing with anymore.  The world has changed.  Society has changed.  And conservatism has changed with it...for the worst I believe.  Now, the "right" in most countries all seem to be following the same patterns of pro-military, pro-war, pro-xenophobia and pro-corporatism.   I would personally argue this is because the heart/core/seed of conservatism has allowed for this growth to take place.  

          Call it what you will, but I think there is a HUGE mistake in believing there is a "true" conservatism completely detached from the policies and outcomes of modern politics.  

    •  They deserve to be dismissed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluezen, jamess

      Your description sounds more like a progressive making a quality check on how the progress is going.  That's NOT a conservative.

      This year, the conservatives wanted to roll back abortion rights to 1972.

      This year, conservatives wanted to check the societal change brought about by the Voting Rights Act. They were successful in a few places, but it backfired on them in others.

      This year, their "valuable check" was a spike strip on the highway to marijuana legalization and marriage equality.

      They want to preserve traditions that Keynes showed don't work, traditions that Darwin showed don't work, and traditions that 99% of climate scientists have shown can't continue to work.

      Next time you want to wax nostalgic about true conservatives, maybe you can go to an old-fashioned blood-letter to cure you of such "bad humours".

      •  Again, you are equating (0+ / 0-)

        the coast-to-coast evangelical anti-intellectual clown show currently parading around this country under the misapplied label of an actual political party with "true conservatism".

        One has a place in a debate about policy and the direction of the country.  The other has a place on The Daily Show to serve as the perennial punch line.

        Thats why I specifically pointed to OTHER COUNTRIES that manage to engage a conservative ideology without devolving into idiotic demagoguery about creationism, man made climate change, the biblical rights of Blessed Fetuses, homosexual agendas, wars on Christmas and all the other drivel.

        I was merely dignifying a legitimate school of thought with something less then a derisive straw man definition, not claiming membership or waxing nostalgic about a by-gone era.

        Though I stand by my claim that having legitimate mature parties with contrasting schools of thought would ultimately better serve this country then the ballot-based cocktail of equal parts American Idol, Prostitution and Cockfighting to which we are presently reduced.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:01:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're in the Right Place (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Daily Kos is said to be here to help get Democrats elected.  If the only opposition is simple-minded demagoguery it is easy for the Democratic Party to be corrupted to a dismal version of the party we aspire for it to be.  We should pray for a responsible conservative party.  It would instantly force Democrats to do better.  In the long arc of history the voice of sanity won out this election but descending into smugness will ensure the Republicans come roaring back as Democrats know we are asking little of them except a victory roast.

          •  There's no there there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Once you take away "idiotic demagoguery about creationism, man made climate change, the biblical rights of Blessed Fetuses, homosexual agendas, wars on Christmas and all the other drivel", what's left?

            Anyone who is fiscally prudent and wants balanced budgets instead of "TAX CUT! TAX CUT! TAX CUT!" has long since been banished from their party.  Now they are Blue Dog Democrats. Instead they welcome in the racists, paranoids worried about someone taking their guns, and just all around nasty people.  Look at the "titular head of the Republican Party", a title which Rush loves to wallow in, or Virginia Foxx, or "Mean Jean" Schmidt (although the last one lost).  

            All of the potential positives of a conservative view that have been listed, they have been co-opted by Obama, and all that is left for "true conservatives" IS the crazy.

        •  If what you say is true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Then where are the "true" conservatives you speak of?  It seems like conservatives in many countries aren't that much different in the beliefs and policies as in the US.  Canada?  Europe?  The UK?   Sure there are degrees, but the trend seems pretty clear to me that they are all following the same general path.

          It seems to me that if this loss of "true" conservatism is so wide spread, then perhaps the seeds were always planted in there to begin with.  They just weren't the same in the past because the world/society wasn't the same in the past.  

    •  if anything, the diarist's description was (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      overly-generous, imo.

      the "hackneyed close-minded degenerency (sic) that is on display" is actually fascism, not conservatism, or reactionism.

      that is the real threat the current brand of conservatism poses to our democracy.  it seeks to end it, entirely, & replace it with an authoritarian stlye dictatorship.

      some would argue that the ideology of the democratic party constitutes the "true" conservative party you wish for.

  •  Pig Ignorance (2+ / 0-)

    This was not always the case but it is now.

  •  it's a meaningless term now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, jamess

    their biggest problem is not dealing with reality.

    boy wasn't it great watching Rove tell them to turn the machines back on...

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:48:53 AM PST

  •  Actual conservativism plays a key role ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, offgrid, nyscribbler, jamess

    in the socio-political dynamic. It always has done and always will do.

    As others in the thread have said, today's "conservative" movement is in fact NOT conservative. It is radical, impossibly narrow, and therefore contradictory.

    I refuse to call the GOP conservative. It is a combination of plutocracy, fascism, and religious fanaticism in an unholy alliance which cannot last, although its component pieces will persevere forever.

    There are actual conservatives in the US. Maybe half of the Republican Party and a third of the Democratic Party. But most have lost their way and forgotten how to understand their own identity.

    But they'll be back eventually. Probably in a time of prosperity.

    "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

    by thresholder on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:59:30 AM PST

  •  As a conservative (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    efrenzy, offgrid, jamess

    My biggest argument for reforming a party of so called conservatives would be to make people realize that it you want a more limited, efficient government that does its best to stay out of the lives of citizens when able, means that we should not push the pro-life agenda as is.

    That's a supreme form of government intervention. You can be morally against it, nothing wrong with that. But that doesn't mean it must be legislated, especially when Roe v. Wade will never be overturned and an amendment changing this will neve ever, EVER pass.

    Besides, what is a cause for many abortions? Unwanted pregnancies. How do you stop this? Better education and better access to contraceptives.

    You can't be so blatantly selective in when you want to be conservative. And fixing this area of policy error could go a long way for Republicans

    a little bit of this, a little bit of that

    by MWV on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:08:21 AM PST

    •  Well, depends on definition, as you point out. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Once people start throwing the word "tradition" around, it opens all kinds of cans of worms.  Because in the history of society, "tradition" can certainly mean the wild west days when people openly carried guns everywhere.  "Tradition" can mean women are the property of men and should be subservient to them.

      And yes, "tradition" can also mean good, god-fearing christians living in a christian nation "under god".

      Anyone who wants to argue that modern conservatism isn't "true" conservatism, and then support that point based on their own naive definition of "tradition" is mistaken.

      Any time people start talking about what is "tradition" they open themselves to the problems we now see.  That includes extreme pro-lifers, tea baggers, Bill O'Reilly, sexism, racism, etc.   I honestly do NOT see how anyone can make any sort of "tradition" arguement and then just assume that means everything is sunny and rosy and happy and pleasant.  

  •  What is conservatism ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Q: What is conservatism?
    A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

    Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
    A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

    What is Conservatism and What is Wrong With It? by Philip Agre

    The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use "social issues" as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.

    The defenders of aristocracy represent aristocracy as a natural phenomenon, but in reality it is the most artificial thing on earth. Although one of the goals of every aristocracy is to make its preferred social order seem permanent and timeless, in reality conservatism must be reinvented in every generation. This is true for many reasons, including internal conflicts among the aristocrats; institutional shifts due to climate, markets, or warfare; and ideological gains and losses in the perpetual struggle against democracy. In some societies the aristocracy is rigid, closed, and stratified, while in others it is more of an aspiration among various fluid and factionalized groups. The situation in the United States right now is toward the latter end of the spectrum. A main goal in life of all aristocrats, however, is to pass on their positions of privilege to their children, and many of the aspiring aristocrats of the United States are appointing their children to positions in government and in the archipelago of think tanks that promote conservative theories.

    •  Not so Fast (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Conservatives are not all authoritarian.  Or perhaps they are but you haven't shown that to be the case.  I know a good number of conservatives who are strong independent people.  Now in my view that have missed the boat on the consequences of allowing the business community free reign to manipulate our political system but that is quite different than the narrow definition you offer.

      •  A broad definition: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Philip Agre:

        But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are.
        You don't have to be an authoritarian to hold this view.
      •  Actually, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There have been a handful of studies carried out that show conservatives do, in fact, fall into authoritarian classification.  They may not realize it or do it intentionally and certainly wouldn't admit it, but there is a definite scientific correlation.  

        I also know a number of very "strong independent" conservatives and while they may claim they don't believe in government imposing in private lives...that doesn't stop them from demanding stricter abortion laws, opposing gay marriage, opposing homosexuality, etc.  And just because someone opposes government, doesn't mean they don't fall victim to other forms of authoritarian influence such as right-wing media (Fox?  Talk radio?) or the authoritarian influence of free market corporatism.

        But I would argue that conservatives are very much authoritarian.  That authority, though, just isn't necessary government.

  •  From one of the diarists here.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justintime, tonyahky, jamess

    ...I forget who (sorry)

    Conservatism is not a political philosophy, not an ideology, not a world view; it is a vice. All of its manifestations—refusal to pay taxes, intolerance of opposing viewpoints, pugnaciousness, "small government" anti-federalism, xenophobia, tribalism, and so forth—all of them are simply different faces of selfishness.
    Conservative Estimate

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:21:55 AM PST

  •  Conservatives do believe in government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's just that they believe government is to protect John Galt and the Aristocracies.

    Liberals and/or Progressives believe government is to protect all, and in many cases protect the masses--the workers, the consumers, the environment--from John Galt and the Aristocracies.    

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