*There are three basic aspects of society: political, economic, and social.
I contend that there are logical obstacles that someone must ignore if they are to support conservatism.
Political Conservatism. The essence of political conservatism is less government. Those who promote this way of thinking argue that the larger the government gets, the more damage it does and the further away from the ideal version of the United States we get.
Certainly there is merit in this argument because the more people there are in an organization, the more possible it is for something to go wrong within the organization. However the possibility of something going wrong does not mean something necessarily will go wrong. The fact that the government was originally designed for a much smaller and less active country is also important. As the country grew and became more active in international affairs the feasibility of small government went away. To argue otherwise (while insisting that the United States be the global leader as many conservatives do) is to be dishonest or to misunderstand what it takes to lead the world.
Economic Conservatism. The basic idea behind economic conservatism is that the government should allow capitalism to operate, that free markets will find the point of equilibrium and everyone will benefit. Again there is something to be said for capitalism, particularly when pure free market capitalism is compared to pure communism. Pure communism would destroy the incentive to achieve. But what is also true is that pure free market capitalism allows some in society to also disincentivizes hard work because many laborers in a pure free market society will not have a real chance economic mobility. It would be foolish to expect those in positions of economic power and privilege to allow other access to their power when they could deny that access. This is why socialism is a sensible middle of the road alternative. It allows for the profit motive but also creates more opportunities for new people to join the economic power class.
Social Conservatism. This is the form of conservatism I understand the most and the least. Social conservatism is founded on the idea that the way a specific group operates is/was the correct way. The group being highlighted is usually from a past time period when less people were given access to positions of power in our country. Of course everyone would be fine with their group being put on a pedestal as the epitome of American society. But just as obvious for any reasonable person is that their group being put on a pedestal is not something that last long term; and to expect that long term spotlight is incredibly narcissistic. So while I understand how people want to be the focal point of American society I do not understand how people don’t realize that others will be included in the ideal version of American society. All waves of social progress in our country were instances of another group being allowed to have the benefit of American citizenship; all social conservative movements have been trying to block those groups. So far this story has been repeated with black people, women, and homosexuals to name a few.
To be a conservative is to deny that change occurs at all and ignore human nature.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.