Saturday, February 4, 2012

Article: What Americans Mean When They Say They're Conservative - The Atlantic

There's a thoughtful little article over at The Atlantic: What Americans Mean When They Say They're Conservative - The Atlantic. And while it doesn't necessarily give any solid definitions for "conservative" (that word, along with "liberal", is functionally meaningless these days anyway), it does lay out several of the options. Of the choices listed, I'd say I fall into:
  • 16, 17, & 18, not because I'm conservative, but because I'm sane.
  • 20, 21 & (to a lesser extent) 10, ditto.
  • 19 because I'm a Christian.
  • 19 & 1 because I've studied quite a lot of history.
  • 15 & 14  I hold in a slight tension. I don't think we have an absolute right to be left alone, but I think it's awfully nice if we are. Likewise, I'm a pretty firm federalist (in the older sense of that word), which in turn means that government does have a role to play in our lives, including at the national level.
  • 2 only in a vague sense (this is largely where my "federalism" works itself out).
  • 9 in a much less vague sense.
And, I think that's pretty much it. There are of course issues on which I am more or less conservative (often more), but in broad philosophical strokes there are quite a few on this list which frankly I want nothing to do with. Which I suspect shows, as I noted above, that the word "conservative" is these days mostly an empty word.

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