What does "conservative" mean nowadays?


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coltrane679
August 14, 2006, 10:35 AM
Interesting stuff:

http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_08_28/index1.html

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Thin Black Line
August 14, 2006, 11:42 AM
1. Are the designations “liberal” and “conservative” still useful? Why or why not?

No. It is not really descriptive regarding the pro-con positions on a
wide range of issues, eg, what is a "conservative democrat" or a "liberal
republican"?

2. Does a binary Left/Right political spectrum describe the full range of ideological options? Is it still applicable?

No. However, it is still applicable as long as the Pater Patriae believes that
his "children" are only capable of picking one of two choices, both of which
conform to what the pater wants anyway, and the children allow themselves
to be restrained by it.

atlctyslkr
August 14, 2006, 01:50 PM
The fear that someone else out there might be enjoying life and there's nothing you can do about it.

ConstitutionCowboy
August 14, 2006, 02:03 PM
Conservative means to take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and adhere to it, and Liberal means to bend, twist, add to, subtract from and "interpret" the Constitution as needed to fit an agenda.

Woody

"Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom: Magic elixirs of life brought to you courtesy of the Constitution for the United States of America." B.E.Wood

FreedomKommando
August 14, 2006, 03:43 PM
Would an example of this theory be when "conservatives" tell us that the Constitution gives the president the inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches? to detain citizens incommunicado without charges for years on end?

Phetro
August 14, 2006, 03:59 PM
The fear that someone else out there might be enjoying life and there's nothing you can do about it.

You actually just described communism, socialism, and democracy. A Constitutional Republic, which true conservatives believe in, and which this nation was always intended to be (remember: "...and to the Republic for which it stands..."), respects the liberties of its citizens, and encourages them to enjoy life.

Woody, as always, hit the nail right on the head.

RealGun
August 14, 2006, 04:02 PM
1. Are the designations “liberal” and “conservative” still useful? Why or why not?

No, they are not useful, since the classic definitions do not represent what too many people claiming those labels really espouse. Now one can never be sure of the intent. Injecting religion into politics or resisting religious initiatives has made it all very murky, causing people to search for or fabricate compound labels, e.g. "secular conservative", to approximate a mix of political positions or segregate themselves from some contemporary aberration.

SuperNaut
August 14, 2006, 04:15 PM
Technically, Politically,
Conservative means to take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and adhere to it, I thought that is what is known as a "Constitutionalist," or as you already mentioned a "Constructionist." There are conservative parties in other countries that don't have anything even resembling a constitution, so that would lead me to believe that conservative ideologies have nothing to do with a constitution or adherence to anything other than the status quo.

xd9fan
August 14, 2006, 05:03 PM
...minority.....

FeebMaster
August 14, 2006, 05:51 PM
Conservative means to take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and adhere to it, and Liberal means to bend, twist, add to, subtract from and "interpret" the Constitution as needed to fit an agenda.

At best that's a clever myth dreamed up to snare the votes of the gullible. Conservatives have never paid more than lip service to the Constitution.



You actually just described communism, socialism, and democracy. A Constitutional Republic, which true conservatives believe in, and which this nation was always intended to be (remember: "...and to the Republic for which it stands..."), respects the liberties of its citizens, and encourages them to enjoy life.

Kind of ironic that you quote a crazy socialist while talking about what true conservatives believe in.

Lone_Gunman
August 14, 2006, 05:54 PM
The definition of conservative has certainly changed.

Today, you can support wild spending, increase government welfare, increase government bureaucracy, an be moderate on the gun issue and still be labelled a conservative.

The conservatives of today are actually more liberal than JFK was.

RealGun
August 14, 2006, 06:34 PM
At best that's a clever myth dreamed up to snare the votes of the gullible. Conservatives have never paid more than lip service to the Constitution.

That is just a sound bite that goes to the core of the discussion. What doctrine do you refer to when using the label "conservative"?

FeebMaster
August 14, 2006, 06:40 PM
That is just a sound bite that goes to the core of the discussion. What doctrine do you refer to when using the label "conservative"?

I don't generally use the label "conservative" as I prefer commie, but if I had to pin something down, I'd define a conservative as someone who is more interested in conserving the power of the state than in liberty.

Frog48
August 14, 2006, 06:48 PM
I consider myself conservative, although I do not identify with the majority of so-called "conservative" politicians. The politicians have lost focus of what conservative ideology is supposed to be about.

Today, "conservative" politicians are a joke. Like has previously been mentioned, many of them support increases of government spending, tax increases, enlarging the size and role of the government bureaucracies, meddling in the economy, and most are way too "moderate" (aka liberal) on immigration policy. In short, conservative politicians have become alot like liberals... they want to stick their nose into things that are none of their business.

Also, it bothers me that most "conservative" politicians support the restriction or denial of civil rights and protections, particularly in criminal investigations and judicial process, in the name of the "war on crime".

Conservative ideology is supposed to focus on small government, low spending, low/reduced taxes, laisse-faire economic policy, and supporting the rights of individuals.

SuperNaut
August 14, 2006, 06:57 PM
Conservative ideology is supposed to focus on small government, low spending, low/reduced taxes, laisse-faire economic policy, and supporting the rights of individuals.

I've always believed in the above. Unfortunately these planks haven't been the focus of the R's or the D's since, well, ever?

Has there been a US administration (R or D) that has reduced the size and spending of the gov't? Anyone? Bueller? The current imperialist Trots in power look nothing like the definition you detailed.

Winzeler
August 14, 2006, 07:03 PM
Conservative means to take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and adhere to it, and Liberal means to bend, twist, add to, subtract from and "interpret" the Constitution as needed to fit an agenda.I don't remember the Constitution saying anything about banning certain types of marriage between consenting adults. I don't remember the Constitution saying that the sixth amendment was only a suggestion or that it only applied to citizens. I don't remember the Constitution saying anything about wars on illegal drugs, prescription drug plans, rights (more like forced) to public education or any of the myriad of other things the freedom grabbing conservatives espouse to win their share of the electorate. There is little practical difference between conservative and liberal anymore. It's just a matter of which of my particular freedoms their after.

tellner
August 14, 2006, 07:04 PM
Conservative means to take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and adhere to it, and Liberal means to bend, twist, add to, subtract from and "interpret" the Constitution as needed to fit an agenda.

Ah, I see. Conservative means "In favor of truth, justice and the American way." Liberal means "Distorts, bends, and otherwise destroys what is Holy."

To paraphrase my Black friends and neighbors: "Person of African descent, with your permission!"

Now that is one of the most self-serving, weaselling, snotty and downright false distortions I have heard in my twoscore and three. It completely ignores most definitions of "conservative" and at least as many of "liberal". Where are the theocratic witch-burners (AFA, 700 Club, Rushdooney fans, etc.) who believe that only Christians should be citizens? How about the current crop of government officials who are loved by conservatives but who do not believe in the separation of powers or checks and balances? On the other side, if you discount the foaming-at-the-mouth crowd like Coulter, O'Reilly, and Cheney, if you actually look at political and legal history you'll find that "strict constructionist" has been more and less fashionable among all political sorts over the years. Most of the time it's been used as a way of patting oneself on the back and berating anyone who disagrees with one as an evil commie mutant traitor.

What you might call liberals have been at least as fervent in their defense of the fundamental Law of the land as have the people with whom you personally identify. The idea that politics is divided up into G-d (people just like me) and the Devil (anyone who isn't just like me) betokens political sophistication approaching that of a first grade playground. It is unworthy of adult citizens but fits nicely into H.L. Mencken's "boobocratic" view of America.

Frog48
August 14, 2006, 07:07 PM
I've always believed in the above. Unfortunately these planks haven't been the focus of the R's or the D's since, well, ever?

Nope. Reagan was the closest, but even that was a half-hearted effort.

"Conservative" politicians campaign on these planks, but once they're actually in office, they change their tune. They realize that if they did what they're supposed to do, they'd be reducing their own power and influence... which would be great for everyone except themselves. So then they proceed to do the exact opposite, in order to expand their power and influence. And unfortunately, thats why we're where we are today.

Monkeyleg
August 14, 2006, 07:11 PM
Very correct, Lone_Gunman. If JFK, or Hubert Humphrey, or even LBJ were alive and holding office today, they'd have a difficult time choosing a party affiliation.

The lines between traditional definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" have pretty much vanished. Instead, the terms are applied selectively and individually, depending upon who's writing the story or who's running the campaign. John McCain is no more a conservative than Hillary Clinton.

JFK was much more conservative in the traditional sense (taxes, big government) than Rudy Guiliani.

I'm no history wiz, but I suspect that the blurring of the lines began with Reagan's presidency. After that, everyone who aspired to office in the Republican party laid claim to his conservativism. Problem was (and still is) that few are true conservatives.

The 1994 "Republican Revolution" ushered into office some folks who could legitimately be called conservatives: Newt Gingrich and JC Watts come to mind.

Once in office, though, most of them seem to have become preoccupied with staying in office. And they've resorted to the age-old strategy of promising everyone everything at any price.

The distinctions have been further blurred by social issues that I suspect the leadership of both parties would like to see just go away: gun control, abortion, religion, gay issues, etc.

The result is that a Zell Miller is both a liberal and a conservative, and so is McCain.

There are still some traditional conservatives out there. Columnist Robert Novak is one example. As a tax-cutting, isolationist conservative, he's been critical of GW's invasion of Iraq from the outset, as well as the increased spending on social programs.

Pat Robertson might be considered another example, although the Republicans successfully cut him off at the knees after he wrote in his book about isolationism at the outset of WWII. (Another topic for another time).

Within the Republican party now are two wings, and they don't always play well together: the country club Republicans, primarily concerned with taxes and spending; and the social issues Republicans.

For so-called "conservative" voters like me--who want no gun control, want government out of our bedrooms and cars and motorcycles and toilets and wherever else government seems to wander, want spending reduced, want taxes lowered, and want our borders secure--there's slim pickings for candidates.

RealGun
August 14, 2006, 07:12 PM
I don't generally use the label "conservative" as I prefer commie, but if I had to pin something down, I'd define a conservative as someone who is more interested in conserving the power of the state than in liberty.

Since all those labels, as you use them, seem in the pejorative, what does that make you?

FeebMaster
August 14, 2006, 07:17 PM
Since all those labels, as you use them, seem in the pejorative, what does that make you?

I don't know. A jerk? Realistic?

RealGun
August 14, 2006, 07:19 PM
I don't know. A jerk? Realistic?

Maybe just a cynic.;)

tellner
August 14, 2006, 07:57 PM
The last President who actually reduced the power of the Executive was Jimmy Carter. He was the one who exposed the cockroaches in the CIA and the FBI to the light of public scrutiny, for which they never forgave him.

Frog48
August 14, 2006, 08:11 PM
For so-called "conservative" voters like me--who want no gun control, want government out of our bedrooms and cars and motorcycles and toilets and wherever else government seems to wander, want spending reduced, want taxes lowered, and want our borders secure--there's slim pickings for candidates.

I'd say pickings for candidates that subscribe to those views, the views of guys like us, well... those candidates dont exist.

Its hard to find a candidate nowadays that believes the federal government's role should be restricted to ONLY the enumerated powers within the Constitution. The government is out of control, due to their abuse of the largely imaginary "implied powers".

JHill
August 14, 2006, 08:16 PM
Well, if you believe that our world looks suprisingly like Orwell's--then:

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

I would also add: conservative=the dissolution of our sovereignty/borders, essential liberties, devaluing of the amero(I mean the dollar), illegals have more rights than US citizens, government that is of the elites--by the power hungry--for the corporations.

Conservative means: submitting as slaves to a government that would shower fear over its subjects all the while having them take a nat'l id card and a biometric implantable microchip--oh, wait--that is just around the corner.

Conservative also means: taxing the Amerikan people and having them pay for all that the Security and Prosperity Agreement/North American Union entails.

;)

tellner
August 14, 2006, 08:29 PM
The problem isn't "Coke or Pepsi". It's a question of character and values among the leaders and the population. A society like our was supposed to be - call it Democracy or Republic or whatever you want - was based on an educated, involved citizenry who held the health of the Republic as a fundamental value.

When politics entered the age of the targetted attack ad and a sole concern with winning the next election no matter what it was bad. When the nation as a whole stopped thinking with its forebrain and valued fear above hope it may have been irreperably harmed. When the idea of bi- or multi- partisanship for the common good was replaced with bile, hatred and charges of treason for anyone who had a different affiliation, well, I think we lost and the totalitarians and carpet-baggers won.

mountainclmbr
August 14, 2006, 10:30 PM
When responsible people must pay for the mistakes of the irresponsible then we have todays condition. You get punished for responsibility and rewarded for irresponsibility. Only by encouraging irresponsibility can the government get a population that "needs" them.

cbsbyte
August 14, 2006, 10:44 PM
Traditionaly a Conservative is someone that wants to conserve the traditional values, and ways. Traditionalist is a similar term. Anyone can be conservative on some issues, and not on others. This is called having an open mind. Politicans who like to tout themselves as a conservative, are useally Not. They are just using the term to fool people in believeing they are for traditional liberal democratic ideals, though they really favour a authoritarian government. Most modern Republican conservatives, are nothing more than authoritarians (for example Nixon, Bloomberg, Giuliani, Reagan, Gingrich, Bush I &II etc) whose main goals are to conserve their power in Washington. A true conseravtive does not have to belong to the Republican, Christian right, or anything else that now is defined as conservative, by so called conservatives. Just as being a modern liberal does not mean one is far left. Many moderates and independents can be conservative on certain issues.

cavman
August 14, 2006, 10:46 PM
As long as the size and role of the State and Federal government either remains as it is or, in all likelyhood continues to grow in influence and significance, the parties of Republican and Democrat will continue to achieve parity.

They will merely fight for the control of the massive purse strings and power that come along with them.


However, "conservative" to me at present, remains to be one who espouses a significantly reduced role, size and scope of a Central governmental power. (Perhaps, then, there could be an accompanying reduction of the saturation of "It's someone else's fault/responsibility", that seems to be heard on the lips of far too many)

have a great day
cavman

Monkeyleg
August 14, 2006, 11:14 PM
The last President who actually reduced the power of the Executive was Jimmy Carter. He was the one who exposed the cockroaches in the CIA and the FBI to the light of public scrutiny, for which they never forgave him.


Tellner, I don't know how old you are, but I remember distinctly the Carter period.

Much of what the Carter administration did was simply reaction to the breaking of existing laws under Nixon. It was under Carter that we got the first restrictions on campaign donations which resulted in further restrictions on campaign donations which resulted in the present McCain/Feingold law. The money still flows.

Sort of like strengthening laws against murder.

Carter emasculated the US intelligence services. The argument about GW's use of wiretaps and surveillance of overseas calls from suspected terrorists has nothing to do with case law, or the Constitution. It has to do with an Executive Order given by Carter in 1977.

The policies of the Carter administration and the congress in the late 1970's led us directly to where we are now with regard to terrorists.

Jimmy Carter is/was a good man, looked good in his cardigan sweater when calling for us to turn down thermostats after the oil embargoes, but he is without a doubt the most singularly innefective president we've ever had.

His policies, and the incredibly stupid policies of LBJ and Nixon during the VietNam era, are why we face terrorists who, prior to that period, would have given serious second thoughts about taking on the US.

Carter was a micro-manager, a man of enormous intellect, but one who focused on the mineautia while the whole world was collapsing around him.

God forbid that we get someone like him in 2008.

ConstitutionCowboy
August 14, 2006, 11:21 PM
FreedomKommando Would an example of this theory be when "conservatives" tell us that the Constitution gives the president the inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches? to detain citizens incommunicado without charges for years on end?
Got a couple examples?


I find there has been a melding of the two definitions of conservative - political/constitutional verses social/behavioral - and the same for liberal - political/constitutional verses social/behavioral. If someone is not specific as to how they use the words, most people will fit it into their own context or view of a particular issue. It allows politicians to prattle on saying one thing and appealing to just about everyone. I call it misrepresenting themselves so they can win your vote and misrepresent you in Congress.

What I see happening(and I've espoused this for 3 years now) is the Republican Party sliding to the left, capturing conservatives and moderates from the Democrat Party who are fleeing the wacko leftist who are taking that party over. This will shrink the Democrat Party over time to the extent it will no longer be a threat to the Republican Party. At that time, constitutional conservatives will be able to pull away from the Republican Party without fear of causing an election loss to the far-out leftist Democrat Party. More and more congressional seats will be available to true conservatives, and we can continue to place this country back on to the Constitution.

I doubt the Republican Party will ever make it back to something more akin to constitutional conservatism - not with the load of moderates who have switched over from the Democrat party. The opening for a true conservative party is in the making, my friends.

Woody

"Gun Control" seeks to put bounds upon, and possibly effect the elimination of, our inalienable Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Don't be led astray with the inference that it is "gun" control. What is under attack are rights of the people. Guns are inanimate objects; tools of freedom and self defense, primarily. Dehumanizing the discourse by calling it "gun control" or "gun rights" tends to lessen the impact from what the impact would be if the discussion were to be directed at the HUMAN right being infringed, and attempts to hide it from the strict scrutiny of the Constitution. B.E.Wood

Lone_Gunman
August 14, 2006, 11:48 PM
No, I think you are wrong about the Democrats. I would not count them out. I think they will take control again in 2008.

tellner
August 15, 2006, 01:40 AM
Monkeyleg, I think we would agree completely on the facts but differ radically in the interpretation. What you call "emasculation" I would call "reigning in the criminals". When it came to the CIA's actual mission - the acquisition and interpretation of foreign intelligence - Admiral Turner's term wasn't bad. If the spooks wanted to commit murder on US soil or were willing to be used to punish the President's political enemies it was a very different story. Gonzo schemes to make Castro's beard fall out? Gone.

Even if Carter only turned back Nixon's excesses he willingly reduced his own power compared to his predecessors rather than adding to it. That makes him unique among recent Presidents.

Under Gay Edgar Hoover the FBI had become a tool of his paranoia and destructive to the fundamental liberties of the Republic's citizens. Was their legitimate job more difficult for a while? Yes, but I'd say the end of Cointelpro and the suppression of dissent was a good trade. Liberty is generally to be preferred over the lusts of tyrants.

Hmm, speaking of lusts...

"I regret to say that we of the F.B.I. are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce."

- J. Edgar Hoover

FreedomKommando
August 15, 2006, 02:24 AM
Woodcdi asked:
Got a couple examples?
See unitary executive theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitary_executive), also known as the Führerprinzip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BChrerprinzip). See John Yoo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Yoo) and David S. Addington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Addington).

strambo
August 15, 2006, 02:34 AM
conservative=the dissolution of our sovereignty/borders, essential liberties, devaluing of the amero(I mean the dollar), illegals have more rights than US citizens, government that is of the elites--by the power hungry--for the corporations.

Conservative means: submitting as slaves to a government that would shower fear over its subjects all the while having them take a nat'l id card and a biometric implantable microchip--oh, wait--that is just around the corner.

Conservative also means: taxing the Amerikan people and having them pay for all that the Security and Prosperity Agreement/North American Union entails.

Far as I can tell; "liberal" means those same things too...maybe with different labels and justifications. So where does that leave us?

ConstitutionCowboy
August 15, 2006, 10:04 AM
The Unitary Executive Theory is bogus in that it only covers separation of powers and omits the system of checks and balances. Our system of government is nothing like Der Fuhrer had in Nazi Germany.

John Yoo has read it right. None of these detainees (such as those at Gitmo) are soldiers or are soldiers from any country signatory to the Geneva Convention. They are terrorist guerrillas. Besides, the detention of and interrogation methods used on these slugs is under the purview of Congress per Article I, Section 8, Clause (11), not the President.

The President does have unlimited power as Commander in Chief, limited only by such treaties as the United States may be signatory to. Congress can and has in the past limited actions of war. Congress declares war and can declare an end to it. Congress can limit spending on a war as well. It's part of that checks and balances thingie.

Still looking for the warrantless searches conducted by the President and the detention of citizens being held incommunicado and uncharged. Got any?

Woody

There is nothing worth more than freedom you win and maintain for yourself. There is nothing more valuable than the tools of the right that make it possible. B.E.Wood

Thin Black Line
August 15, 2006, 01:05 PM
When responsible people must pay for the mistakes of the irresponsible then we have todays condition. You get punished for responsibility and rewarded for irresponsibility. Only by encouraging irresponsibility can the government get a population that "needs" them.

This is the best comment I've read all day. When applied to this nation's
current condition, it explains everything from the failure to secure the
border to the debacle in Iraq.

Kudos.

Art Eatman
August 15, 2006, 01:11 PM
Too many gradations, too many issues. Classical Liberalis aren't at all comparable to today's Democratic Party Liberals. Same sort of thing for Conservatives and Neo-Conservatives.

For all that it mostly seems a matter of degree--but for Ron Paul--I've taken to separating the two main political viewpoints as "Statist" and "non-Statist"

Statists of whatever party are those who want more power and/or actions by an ever-stronger central government. That ain't me.

Art

xd9fan
August 16, 2006, 11:47 AM
For all that it mostly seems a matter of degree--but for Ron Paul--I've taken to separating the two main political viewpoints as "Statist" and "non-Statist"

yep to use bummer sticker logic.......
"Its not Left vs Right, Its the State vs YOU!"

strambo
August 16, 2006, 12:08 PM
Statists of whatever party are those who want more power and/or actions by an ever-stronger central government. That ain't me.

Yes, I think of the political spectrum as more of a circle. The extreme left and right views aren't on opposite ends, but come around and meet with full bore socialism and fascism pretty much being the same thing.

I looked up fascism just to make sure it fits Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism. -Wikipedia

Yep, that's extreme conservative. Either way you've got 100% gov. control and no freedom, who cares what it's called?

Frog48
August 16, 2006, 12:35 PM
Either way you've got 100% gov. control and no freedom, who cares what it's called?

Bingo.

One of my political science professors said it like this... "The political ideology spectrum is not a flat line. Its more the shape of a horseshoe... the further you go to either end, the more the ideas bend back toward one another."

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