What is a conservative?

By Paul Rechnitzer

Reader Contributor


When I first began to vote, the process seemed so simple compared to what is going on these days. You were either a Republican or Democrat. Details that made any difference were usually to be found in the words of a few dedicated journalists known as columnists. Nicknames came from cartoonists—some were insulting, while others seemed appropriate. So when people began asking volunteers for public service if they were conservative, I began to wonder just what is a conservative. And when did Republican fail to answer this question? It is interesting that you can ask the opposite of conservative the same question. When did the Democratic Party fail as a label for the left?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer. We have changed the meaning of so many words, you either need a pulpit or walk away entirely. Think about it in more simple terms: The word cool these days does not refer to your body temperature but your  disposition. If I say I am going to rap on your door you will probably consider that a strange place to start something that sounds like song. So what’s a body to do?

The solution for some is to echo the thoughts of countless commentators or parrot the opinion of the person with a sign who supposedly knows better than you. That’s not for me.

In my opinion, a conservative is a member of either party who has a genuine interest in what is best for our country. They have no bias as to skin color or gender and no allegiance to any belief that is contrary to our Constitution. They are not bent out of shape about an idea such as Common Core and are deeply concerned about the increased tendency to look outward for help rather than inward. They have a genuine concern for the rights of others and no patience for those who disregard them.

In short I think most of us are conservative by any unencumbered standards. We essentially all believe  the same sort of thing, at least until some smooth talker comes to town with an untried formula. The challenge is and has always been to think for yourself. If you rely on the basics, you won’t have to wonder what you are, your actions will suffice and you will do the right thing. Just don’t stop thinking.

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