View Full Version : NFBT What is your definition of conservative?

04-27-2001, 02:25 PM
For me it is responsible fiscal policy and individual freedom. This freedom means a complete division between church and state. It also means freedom from those who wish to force their morality on me. There is a limit to my freedom but this limit is a practical not theological.
This makes for a very messy bunch of things one must tolerate in others, but freedom is worth it.

Bob Dole
04-27-2001, 03:21 PM
Bob Dole thinks your definition is closer to libertarian than conservative, but that's just Bob Dole's conservative opinion.

04-27-2001, 03:30 PM
Inside hand-off to Donnell Bennett on 3rd and 9. Up by 2 with 4 minutes left. Ball on the 50 yard line.

04-27-2001, 03:44 PM
Bob Dole
Long time no see. This is your chance to define what you think a conservative is. True I am a libertarian but not a Libertarian which is a nutball political party. Have trouble fitting into any one party as currently being defined.

04-27-2001, 04:05 PM

I think everyone has a problem fitting in just one party. Generalizations are dangerous but here we go.

A fiscally responsible gun loving god fearing person.

I really like conservatives although we do differ on certain subjects like over legislation


It's a good thing though.

04-27-2001, 04:13 PM
I have trouble seeing "conservative" as someone who wants separation of church and state. I know many self-proclaimed conservatives that think removing prayer from schools started the downfall of the country.

I personally don't want to be labeled as conservative, liberal, democrat, republican, or any other BS label. I'll settle for the name my parents gave me and the nickname I gave myself.

Proud member of the "where's the free beer" party

I'd rather be called an a$$hole than Conservative or Liberal...

04-27-2001, 04:52 PM
It is clear that issues define the label rather than the generalization.

God's law. Does it rule over all legislation or is it personal and we render unto Caesar?

Who determines whose interpretation of God's law is to be implemented in legislation? Which prayer? Is prayer in the schools a defining issue for conservatives?

04-27-2001, 04:56 PM
I think the major distinguishing characteristic of conservatism is the deference it pays to traditions and institutions that have evolved within a society and the skepticism with which it treats radical change.

04-27-2001, 05:04 PM
Like ExtremeChief, I have a problem calling anyone who wants total separation of church and state a conservative.
Having said that, My strongest belief as a conservative is separation of federal and state or local government. I believe the less government intrudes into our lives the better off we all are. I guess what I'm trying to say is "smaller, less intrusive government" is what I desire.

04-27-2001, 05:07 PM
It is clear that issues define the label rather than the generalization.

God's law. Does it rule over all legislation or is it personal and we render unto Caesar?

Who determines whose interpretation of God's law is to be implemented in legislation? Which prayer? Is prayer in the schools a defining issue for conservatives?

04-27-2001, 05:20 PM
As I said before, I have trouble with any labels, and for the purpose of this topic, guess I don't have much to offer. I will offer this...

I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior. I don't however believe all who don't believe in him go to hell. I think if one lives a good life, morally straight and narrow, they have their shot at the afterlife. Yes, I know this goes against the reading of the Bible, or at least the most popular interpretation.

I think the removal of prayer in school, didn't help anything, and maybe didn't hurt anything either. (God my a$$ is sore from the fence)

I think abortion is murder, but I don't think I or anyone else has the right to stop someone from getting one. Let God sort it out.

I believe in less government, but historically have voted Democratic.

I didn't post this to start discussions about any of these topics, but I thought it might give you some insight into where I stand, and why I don't like labels. My views don't fit into either category.

I reserve the right to continue to be conservatively liberal...

04-27-2001, 05:24 PM
I agree that labels are dificult and misleading to use because my definitions are surely different than others ~ and that's what makes for an interesting lesson, debate, and society.

I view myself as a realistic Libertarian that usually votes Republican.

I do not, however, subscribe to the 'new' Libertarian attitudes of political positioning. It used to be fairly well understood that Libertarianism was to the right of Conservatism on a linear scale. Then came the devisive issues of abortion and religeon in general, and the Libertarian party redefined itself (for political reasons~not ideolgy IMO) as triangulated above (and a combination of) both Conservative and Liberal movements.

The fundimental issues revolve around how much power we grant our Federal Government. EVERYTHING else is secondary to this foundation issue.

The Federal Government does have a legitimate purpose and most of those are spelled out in the Constitution. As times progress, there are other legitimate functions that should come under their perview (policing the environment is a good example). The problem arrises in that Federalist (believers in the beneficent power of Federal Government) have been winning the war and that they will shamelessly use any pretext to further their mission. The enviromental movement has been subverted in this manner.

Conservatism means to me the belief that Government is inherantly evil and that we should suffer as little of it as is necessary.

don't get me started...

04-27-2001, 06:05 PM
Surely the most fundamental American concept is that that gov't which governs least is best. Just as surely, this is not adhered to by any modern party. At one time this was not a conservative or progressive issue. The corporations have used it to escape regulation, those well off to escape taxes. It then became a conservative issue. Progressives used it to stave off laws infringing personal freedoms. Currently, the concept is used very selectively when it applies to someone's agenda and is forgotten on other issues. So it is no longer absolute but situational. All remain convinced they support the concept.

It is also a concept that can create real mischief when new situations arise. Precedents in law can be established way before the ramifications are known. Thus entrenching some really bad things such as slavery or segregation.

04-27-2001, 06:10 PM
Extreme Chief
You nicely defined the difficulty in labelling anyone. Even oneself. Even where people would list the same isssues of agreement, there will be times that items on the list will be in conflict and then one must prioritize. This separates those who agree by their priorities. The single issue agendas are rife with this conflict.

Bob Dole
04-27-2001, 06:19 PM
Actually, oleman, <b>this</b> Bob Dole is more of a libertarian than a conservative.

Bob Dole would tend to go along with something close to DanT's definition...where a conservative has an overwhelming need to maintain the status quo and an aversion to change.

04-27-2001, 06:36 PM
DanT and Bod Dole, Bob Dole
Resistant to change is classic conservative definition and true. I grew up in household that not only didn't like Democrats but you were not allowed to associate with them. It was the McCarty type era. It was also filled with an attitude of self reliance and tolerance. A Lincoln type, Ike, Taft, Dirksen, type household. Nor was it tied to religion or morality, morality was a given.
These later became know as moderates, and now most I guess are no longer Republicans except back
East somewhere. I myself felt the party left me. My resistance to change. My conservaticism.

04-27-2001, 07:07 PM
The conservative stance on proposed changes (I'm talking classical conservatism, as formulated by, say, Edmund Burke) is that societies are complex systems and that any change to the existing order could well have unforseen and bad effects, so change should be gradual, if at all. It can be distinguished from the attitude of various kinds of idealists who think that the most important test for a new proposal is whether it is correct in some kind of metaphysical sense. For example, one might be able to convince a conservative that policy c is logically deducible from unassailable political principles a and b, but that's not enough to convince her that policy c should actually be implemented.

04-27-2001, 07:22 PM
Then Darwin countered with natural selection showing the conservatives would become extinct. But the fear of the unkown, which is not irrational, is a part of conservaticism. For survival, what has worked in the past is often the best course. Jumping off a ten story building is not the way to test the existence of gravity. But controlled experiments can be used to learn and harness its use. Thus progress. It is usually gradual or even belated. But in areas not considered threatening advances have been quite rapid.

We are now up to about three basic concepts.

04-27-2001, 07:55 PM
Unfortunintly there are too many divisions within the term conservitive to even take a good stab at this one.

I think you have your religious conservitives who want to hard to force thing down other people's throats in such a way that instead of just focusing on the fact that this nation was originally founded under God and to attempt to deny that is...well...wrong.

Then there are the more fiscal conservitives who just don't believe everything needs to be funded with tax money and that companies and individual invention will prevail and bring to the people what they need. Also a strong belief here in personal responsiblity, in other words get off your butt, stop having babies, get off the crack and get a job like everyone else. Normally believe in charity over welfare, because it is universal knowledge that sometimes some people need help. Also have a strong belief that you earn money for work and has next to nothing the govt did (it is your money not the govt's)

Then you have your political conservitives, who basically walk a fine line between both and don't seem to get either just right.

Now a def of a liberal could be very entertaining to say the least.

04-27-2001, 08:12 PM
There is little question on the religious conservative as being fairly well defined. Theocracy.

The fiscal is diverse itself. For I believe in stringent balancing of the books and priorities but on many items of expenditure a flaming liberal. I might wish the world was different but see the need and feel revulsion when others cannot see what to me is so obvious. The crass attitude to others pain and misfortune is to me a denail of both religious conservaticism and fiscal. The fiscal health a the country and its political health depend on opportunity, results, and refuge for the losers. Most losers are by health, accident, mental illness, etc. and not sloth. But even if sloth, the economy needs consumers and we need a level of satisfaction throughout the land to keep out freedoms. So it is in our self interest to take care of those who have difficulty.

04-27-2001, 08:23 PM
One aspect of conservatism that hasn't been mentioned is personal responsibility.

My impression is that conservatives want everybody to hold themselves responsible for their own actions, and the consequences thereof. Conservatives will only take care of the weak/unlucky/"less thans" when the situation is truly beyond their control.

This is distinguished from the liberals, who would take care of the weak/unlucky/"less thans" under any circumstances; without regard for why they find themselves in their unfortunate circumstance and without any expectation that they should work to find their way out of the situation.

04-27-2001, 08:37 PM
oleman47 - I have to disagree with some of that. Those born with defects and the such are part of those that charitiy is for, and that as a society all parts agree need to be taken care of. Nowhere I have seen that conservitives are for denying these people help, in fact I would go so far as to believe that both sides agree that society has to help these people. As for the consumers and sloth comment I'm not sure I understand what you are going for there, I don't see where it is not allowed to not work at a lower paying job to make ends meet. Maybe your getting at the fact that conservitives would rather reward those people willing to give work a shot then those who would rather live at home and collect welfare for not giving anything to society. I understand that sounds pretty harsh, but I personally would rather see someone try to make ends meet by working at the local fast food joint and make get a break from the gov't then I would like to see someone who adds little to society.

Zebedee DuBois
04-27-2001, 08:37 PM
Originally posted by LapDog
Conservatives will only take care of the weak/unlucky/"less thans" when the situation is truly beyond their control.

This is distinguished from the liberals, who would take care of the weak/unlucky/"less thans" under any circumstances

I think this is more a function of bureaucracy, rather than intent. If the larger society wants to help someone who is down on their luck, it is hard to distinguish how their misfortune occurred. Aid is given based on current status, rather than cause.

04-27-2001, 08:38 PM
I do think you reflect a current view held by many conservatives. And some are undeserving on this scale but even if nothing is done the problem will remain. But, it does gall me when they seek a tax deduction to enhance themselves at the expense of society, a society they have opted out of, save for taking its benefits.

There is another thing operating politically where we have interest groups making a living off these issues. Fawell has taken in over a billion, and who knows what some of the business associations have gathered. And liberal orgs are an alphabet soup. This brings up that those who are gathering money do not want the issue to be solved for they would lose their jobs.

04-27-2001, 08:49 PM
I set up some computer systems for welfare work in which I had to program each function and therefor had to learn what the heck it was all about. Believe me, for the chronic you would not want them to cook your food. But most are on welfare then off. Right now we have thousands of programmers out of work. Our economic system to be effficient produces losers, most of whom bounce back, but some have kids, are not well, etc. The nation needs these people rather than view them as some enemy of the good people.
Plus, I do not see much distinction being made between those who need by conservative rhetoric.

04-27-2001, 08:52 PM

Agreed. There's an interesting thing about beauracracy that I was unaware of before. My company went under a couple of months ago, so I'm drawing unemployment. The system is set up so that I am forced to keep looking for a job by submitting to three companies a week. I view this as a good thing. On the surface it SEEMS like a good thing. BUT, it also makes me hesitate to submit to more than three companies, because I might need that fourth company for the next week's check. This can potentially slow the job search down.

So, as a conservative, I've learned that there IS a flip side to the coin. You don't want requirements that are impossible to meet. But, you don't want them to be too easy because that could actually interfere. So, maybe the solution is to have no requirements, which is totally against what I've always believed.

Now I'm wondering where the middle ground is. I'm not sure there are any good answers that don't carry significant down sides with them. Liberals choose one side. Conservatives choose the other. Neither is really the whole picture.

04-27-2001, 08:53 PM
So true. To be fair and to save horrendous expense far exceeding the actual cost of welfare it is based on verified need rather than series of psychological tests, and search of past history other than the most obvious. Once on welfare, the survelliance is more intense but can never satisfy those against it in the first place. Just like stealing stock brokers, there are welfare cheats.

04-27-2001, 08:57 PM
oleman47 - The question is are those people that are unemployed with children trying to do anything about it, if they are trying to get out there and trying to do things other then what they did before. I think you are missing the distinction that we put in place that we are willing to help people who are willing to help themselves, and I think that is the key phrase that was on the tip of my tongue that I was unable to put out there.

Zebedee DuBois
04-27-2001, 09:06 PM
One thing that bothers me about the "Republican conservative" agenda is this tax cut push. Now, don't get me wrong, if they are handing out tax cuts, I'll gladly take mine. But it seems to me that a truly "conservative thing to do is pay your bills on time. If I incur a debt, I try to get it payed off as quickly as I can. It seems to me that with the so-called surplus, the gov't should pay off its debt. These are surely some of the best of economic times, so when would be a better time to pay it off? I also think that the benifits to the economy would be compareable to every family paying $1000 less tax a year, (although not as personally gratifying :D) )

04-27-2001, 09:06 PM

I agree with most of what you say. Especially in regards to the special interest groups. Why can't people quit being so selfish and recognize that we all have needs and we should all work toward a balance, which requires some sacrifice from each of us?

On the tax deduction thing, I only agree to some extent. Some people are able to deduct far too much through loopholes. But, if somebody is using deductions to avoid overly burdensome taxes, I wouldn't hold it against them. (I don't get any deductions, so I ended up paying over $10k in taxes this year. :( )

04-27-2001, 09:14 PM
Nixon addressed this problem and sought a graduated welfare incentive program. Clinton put in tax credits and with congress graduated the benefits to work. So this is being addressed in a very raw and blunt manner. No two people being really alike presents problems to any program.
When unemployed dropped and many companies received incentives to hire this really did help. Of course many still failed but a large group is off permantly which has proven that given a chance, good results can follow. However the present laws will be really tested during a fairly long recession since so much of the help is time dependent.
There is currently a very real problem with single mothers who run out of health insurance by the gov't and are not in jobs that supply health insurance and cannot afford it. For some with kids this can get gruesome and they end up back or giving up the kids in some manner.
What I detest is that attitude that there is no problem they are just no goods and we can discard them, hope they die off. Whatever the cause, a discontent can hurt society. They just go break the law, go to jail and this is much more costly than welfare and they do not learn anything, or produce anything for society.

04-27-2001, 09:17 PM
oleman47 - I don't see any group just trying to discard people as waste.

04-29-2001, 02:29 PM
As it has been pointed out that there are many defenitions of a Conservative, I will tell what being a Conservative is to me.

Being a Conservative is being a Constitutionalist. We look at the whole document and not just the parts that suit are needs (for example, you'll probably never see a lib use the Tenth amendment). That is one of the fundamental differences between libs and Conservatives: libs read the Constitution based on their political beliefs, whereas Conservatives base their political beliefs on the reading of the Constitution.

Conservatives are for smaller government (the way the Constitution setup our government to begin with). We belive in personal responsibility, that it is up to you to do something with your life. The government is ill suited for this task as it has no way of knowing of each and every person's particular needs. Government officials are NOT gods, they can't see what is happening in the everyday lives of the people. Plus government is also inefficient. A person needing help will only get a small portion of the dollar that is designated for him/her if going throught the government. But if an individual gives a hundred dollars to someone in need, that person gets the whole amount.
We fear government because the bigger it gets the more of our rights are likely to be taken away from us. This was the same fear of the Founders, they thought of government as something bad, but something you have to have. So they created a government that was only big enough to take care of the general problems of the nation, leaving the rest to the states and the people. And for those of you who don't understand this fear of government, go back through history and try to find a large government (on the scale of socialist or communist governments) that allowed the people to have the rights that we enjoy today. I'll bet you don't find too many. Government is a power that is constantly trying to grow. The people are a power as well, and for the government to have more power it must control the people. If we are controlled by our government than we are not free. Our government was designed in a way to let the people control the government. Some where along the way we started losing that.

"Is peace so dear, or life so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, bt as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
- Patrick Henry

04-29-2001, 03:13 PM

Concerning your statement that we should use the "surplus" to pay off our debt.

If every cent of the "surplus" went towards paying off the national debt I would be one happy camper. I would take this over a tax cut for the present time.
Unfortunately the liberals want to use the "surplus" to create new programs or enlarge the current ones, once again enlarging government's role in our everyday lives. Given the choice of tax cuts or new and larger programs, I'll take tax cuts.

Notice I put surplus in quotes because there is no surplus except on paper. I'd like to wait until the money is actually here instead of depending on forecasts of where our economy will be years from now.

04-29-2001, 03:19 PM
I haven't read this whole thread so if I repeat someone I apologize.

For me defining a conservative comes down to a few very simply things, if not <b>a</b> simple thing. That is 'personal responsibility' A person is responsible for what he/she does. It is not socities' fault. It isn't the govts' duty. It is up to that person. It is up to the indivdual to find their way in the world. It's their job to find out how they can best contribute productively to their segment of the universe.

Does this mean everyone should be put on an island to fend for themselves? Of course not. I've no problem helping those in need. I have a major problem when that need becomes institutionalized. I've no problem setting a level playing field for all. I have a major problem when those who have played that field and been successful on it are demonized and vilified for their sucess.

My definition of a conservative is most simply put 'Take responsibility for yourself and accept the accountability and rewards that go with it'.

04-30-2001, 09:03 PM

I dutifully read all the replies on this topic, absorbing the perspective of each poster and preparing to enter my own opus when I find that ck_IN has stolen my thunder.

What he said.

Willing to take responsibility for his own actions and wants everyone else to do the same.

Zebedee DuBois
04-30-2001, 09:43 PM
I agree with these comments personal responsability. This is a very important cornerstone of moral character and good citizenship.

I would be interested in hearing some views on our collective responsibilites ( responsibilities we share as a group of citizens).

05-01-2001, 05:58 PM
I would be interested in hearing some views on our collective responsibilites ( responsibilities we share as a group of citizens).

Obey the law.

Zebedee DuBois
05-01-2001, 06:01 PM
I would count obeying the law as a personel responsibility, but can see it as a social one too.

05-01-2001, 06:06 PM
I look at it as both. The law was not written just for an individual, but for all of our society.

Zebedee DuBois
05-01-2001, 06:17 PM
I'm trying to remember what I was thinking when I was posting that the other night. (It is hell getting old)

I think I was wondering about public support of societal action. For instance, we the people (the USA) sign a treaty with another gov't. 10 years down the line, we start thinking that treaty is holding us back in some way. Isn't it our responsibilby to live up to our word? Isn't that responsibility just as important as any individual responsibility?
(Not speaking about any particular treaty)

Tomahawk 11
05-01-2001, 06:20 PM
I'll be flat honest. I have no idea if there is a valid definition of a liberal or conservative. I have seen "hardcore" conservitives buying illegal drugs and I have seen "treehugging" liberals using styrofoam. That's not the best example in the world, but you can get my point.

Deep down, I guess we are all hypocrits at some point in time or another. I believe in obeying the law, that's not to say that I haven't broken a few in my time. I believe in sympathy and sacrifice, but I have told beggers to 'get a job' before too.

I would rather not be called a conservative or a liberal. I guess that makes me a middle of the roader. The thing that I have noticed in the last 16 years is that when the liberals were complaining about the conservatives, I saw contridictions. Likewise, when the conservatives were complaining about the liberals, I saw contridictions.

Which is more of a threat to national security?
Clinton getting a B.J. in the oval office or Newt embezzling thousands of dollars from the very government he worked for. Both of them were cesured, but neither thrown completely out. Explain that to me so I can understand....

05-02-2001, 05:28 AM
Originally posted by Tomahawk 11

Which is more of a threat to national security?
Clinton getting a B.J. in the oval office or Newt embezzling thousands of dollars from the very government he worked for.

Not to get off the topic here, but this is an over used misconception. The debate wasn't over the BJ, it was over Clinton lying under oath.

05-02-2001, 06:02 AM
Newt was not censured for embezzling money. Newt did not embezzle money. What he was censured for was with regard to the tax status of the Progress and Freedom Foundation political action committee and his teaching of the college course in Georgia in the early 90's and whether or not that was ethically valid. the PAC paid the expenses of that class and that was the question about the 'abuse of tax exempt campaign donations for political use' charge.

About 3 years after Newt paid his 300k fine, he was exonerated by the IRS claiming that the the PAC did not violate the law in any way.

This was one of 300 charges filed with the House Ethics Committee against Newt.

The last embezzler in the House was Dan Rostenkowski who was recently pardoned by Clinton.

Here's an excerpt from cnn.com:

"The embattled speaker, after two years of steadfast denials, admitted Saturday that he had misled the ethics committee, and that a college course he taught and financed with tax-deductible donations was improper."

Link: http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/9612/23/1gingrich.johnson/index.shtml

Here's an article about the IRS ruling:


You wont find it on any of the larger 'news' sites.

This is not a defense of Newt, just setting the record straight.