I’m not what most people would consider a “typical” conservative. I’ve never been to a church service outside a wedding or a funeral, and have been a proud atheist since I was old enough to know what the term meant. I went to film school at one of the most liberal universities in the country, and have always considered myself a libertarian on social issues.
I’m a conservative because I believe in conserving the principles that have made the United States the greatest, freest, most successful country in the history of the known universe, namely:
- Individual, inalienable rights instead of collective rights. You may believe the government should provide healthcare, shelter, food, and clothing, but that’s a fundamentally different assertion than freedom of speech or expression, or other protections codified in the Bill of Rights. One requires the government to take something from someone else, the other is something you have naturally.
- Limited government based on enumerated, defined, and separated powers. There are no philosopher kings or benevolent dictators. Citizens need protection from the government, and that protection can only be achieved by sharply limiting the scope of the government’s power.
- Free markets and free minds over experts and technocrats. The only protection against the tyranny of authority is trusting an informed citizenry to make the best decisions for themselves and their family. These millions and billions of decisions will ultimately arrive at a more preferable outcome than rule and regulation by fiat.
Of course, I could add more to the list: The foundational values of due process and the right to face your accuser, the prominent role of the states, the potential madness of mob rule, equal application of the law, and on and on, but those are topics best left covered in individual articles.
There are, of course, things in the United States that are better left in the dustbin of history. I accept that no country is perfect and every country struggles with the demons of racism, sexism, and inequality. The question is how best to end those evils, not endlessly fighting over whether or not they exist.