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Thursday, January 25, 2018

DENNIS PATRICK: REFLECTING ON CONSERVATISM

Now is as good a time as any to reflect on conservatism. At heart, most people are conservative. Observe how assiduously they manage their families and finances. Consider their preferences in their neighborhoods and communities. Conservatism is more than a campaign slogan or political disposition.

Conservatism encompasses both a set of principles and a philosophy contravening the essence of modern liberalism.

Conservatism, as a set of principles, can be subdivided into three basic categories. National security and foreign policy protects citizens, their way of life and interests abroad. Social concerns include a pro-life position, individual liberty, school choice, a color-blind society, faith-based initiatives, and free speech. The third category embodies fiscal matters including property rights, capitalism, and low taxes supporting a limited government.

Undergirding these principles is the philosophy of natural law. Natural law is best described as rules of conduct inherent between human beings and recognizable through human reason. Natural law is embodied in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the God-given natural right to be free from the shackles of tyranny from within or without. This is the philosophy upon which our government was originally built and our society flourished.

Classic liberalism all but disappeared from the public square long ago. Classic liberalism morphed from the thinking of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes through the warped cogitations of Rousseau and Marx and Lenin to the perverse conjectures of Raul Castro, Kim Jong-un, and Nicolas Maduro. Such is the heritage of modern liberalism’s left-of-center “progressive” blush of the 21st century.

Essential to the message of modern liberalism is “you cannot succeed by yourself so let government do it for you” and “vote for me and I’ll give you stuff and take care of you.” The more subtle message of modern liberalism assumes everyone is a victim of successful people. Government exists to redistribute wealth, level the playing field, resolve people’s bad choices, and moderate their lives. The essence of modern day liberalism inevitably results in the accumulation and consolidation of political power of the few over the lives of the many. The operative term is “progressive.”

In every presidential and midterm campaign liberals and progressives must deceive the electorate by claiming that they are conservatives. They prefer not to be known as liberal. Liberals apply the correct euphemisms to conceal their true beliefs. They explain and reassure and posture as conservatives in order to identify with the majority of Americans.

Conservatives on the other hand don’t have to redefine themselves. They are who they are at heart and they behave accordingly.

That a large number of Americans identify as conservative is a measurable assertion via the Battleground Poll. The Battleground Poll is a bipartisan effort generated prior to presidential and midterm elections. Questions have been tested and do not change from year-to-year resulting in a consistency that gives this poll a very reputable track record.

Of particular note is question D3. This question was asked in separate polls from 2002 through 2017. “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal, unsure/refused.” Through the years over 50% of Americans consider themselves very conservative or somewhat conservative. During the same period no more than 38% considered themselves liberal or very liberal.

It must be noted that many polls, especially the “push polling” variety, are intentionally constructed to mask the conservative grounding of Americans. Dealing with issues from pro-life to entertainment to higher education, the disclosed results of the “push polls” present a view in which conservatism remains curiously obscured.

Another measure of conservatism is the Arbitron Radio Ratings. Arbitron is a radio audience research company that collects data on radio audiences similar to the data collected by Nielsen Media Research for television audiences. (Nielsen owns Arbitron.) Radio advertisers base their purchased air time on the largest markets with the largest listening audiences. Love him or hate him, Rush Limbaugh’s audience is the largest in radio history extending from coast to coast and has remained so for well over a decade. Arbitron ratings warranted Limbaugh’s 2008 eight year contract worth over $400 million. In 2016 he signed a new “multi-year” contract presumably worth much more. This testifies to a very large conservative segment of the American population as part of Limbaugh’s audience.

Finally, time and again elections show that liberals cannot win elections by being who they are and campaigning on things in which they truly believe. Instead, liberals must portray themselves as conservatives because that is the true composition of the majority of the American population.

Regrettably some gullible Americans buy into liberals’ campaign rhetoric and mainstream media advocacy while nevertheless behaving conservatively in their personal affairs. This in spite of the discrepancy some politicians promise to “fix” but never seem to resolve “poverty,” “education,” “energy,” “health care,” ad infinitum.

The late William F. Buckley, Jr. stated his faith in American conservatism. He once remarked, “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the [liberal] faculty of Harvard University.”

That says it all. Conservatism lives.

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

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