Conservatism Defined

I’m finally back.

After the election I decided to fast from political everything for an undetermined amount of time. I was going to get straight back into blogging about worship, bicycling, faith, and occasionally politics. Then the funeral and then I got sick and then Thanksgiving.  It’s like anything else when you’re in the flow the momentum carries you but when you stop it’s hard to get started again. So here we go.

Conservatism defined,

I have given this much thought over the last several days. I didn’t do any research, read any definitions or consult any political geniuses. I wanted to define conservatism in my own mind and let the conversation begin.  This is by no means exhaustive it is rather the opening argument.

Conservatism is rooted in absolutes and principles that never change. Conservatism applies to everyone and doesn’t need to be tailored for each subclass or re-defined each generation. I believe you are either a conservative or you are not. I don’t understand how someone can say they are a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Conservatism is a set of principles and core values that inform and shape what you believe, core values to guide you in both fiscal and social matters.

Here is what I think conservatives believe:

Conservatives first believe in God.

Belief in God can be expressed in many different ways, denominations, or religions; however it must come to the conclusion that man is not basically good, redemption is available to everyone, and there will be a final judgment.  (Notice I did not say Evangelical Christian)

Conservatives believe in the sanctity of human life.

This is not a single issue. It is a core issue that informs every other point. Quality of life comes after the defense of life and human life trumps all other.

Conservatives believe in Liberty and freedom.

Individual liberty and freedom is what made this country exceptional. Not collectivism, not diversity, and definitely not government, though our form of government matters.

Conservatives believe in Individual responsibility.

Victimhood is part of what’s gone wrong with this country. When we take responsibility we take ownership and only then can we improve our situation.  When you are given freedom you must take responsibility or your freedom will be taken from you. Government should enable individuals to pursue their own self interests but not at the expense of someone else’s. That’s why I am not a libertarian. I believe the state has a role to play. A role spelled out very clearly in the Bible and in the constitution. Limited government and individual responsibility must go hand in hand.

Conservatives believe in the rule of law.

Laws should be applied fairly without regard to race, gender, etc, etc. Laws should not be passed solely to make retribution, like affirmative action, and should not punish thought, like hate crimes.  The state has an obligation to condone what is good and punish what is evil. God alone is the judger of hearts and motives.

Conservatives believe in strong national defense.

The constitution charges the federal government with defending our borders and our sovereignty. Immigration is what built this country; however allowing people to come illegally with no intention of assimilating or contributing to the culture and the economy will destroy it. Defending this country means war is inevitable unless we want to surrender to the latest evil that raises its head either within these borders or without.

Conservatives believe in stewardship.

Everything we have is a gift and we must steward it well. Environmentalism has become the home of the radical left who worship the creation not the creator. Stewardship is the answer not radical environmentalism.

I didn’t intend for these to be in any order but I think they’re ordered pretty well .  The top two are definitely the top two.

Conservatism is hard. It allows you to own your successes and your failures. It allows natural consequences when you make bad decisions. It allows the largest number of people access to upward mobility. It gives tough love not coddling or enabling. It allows for personal pride and dignity. It requires integrity, conviction, and perseverance.

The idea of fairness is a lie and holds us back. The playing field is not level and cannot be made level. The government cannot remove obstacles but should create an environment where obstacles can be overcome.

I’m sure there is more but no less. Before you unload on me I understand these are ideals and the devil is in the details. As you know I love vigorous debate but have very little patience for those who are full of passion and fire but without principled arguments or core values. If you believe socialism is better fine. Make a principled argument and may the best ideas win. I believe I hold a Biblical Christian world view. If you think I’m wrong make a principled scriptural argument. If you show me where I’m in error I will repent and be grateful to you.

Let the conversation begin.

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Posted by Gary

Gary Trobee is a certified coach and a seasoned leader with over 20 years’ experience mentoring, coaching, and encouraging leaders and their teams.


  • At 2008.12.03 23:01, Jordan Peacock said:

    So I guess I’m unsure what you’re really looking for? Is this an attempt at building, through discussion and debate, a better definition of conservative? Do I explore whether conservatism, as defined above, is the ideal worldview, or whether or not it’s ‘Christian’ (or at least compatible with…)?

    There are some pieces that I would definitely argue are not Christ-like, and others that I would argue aren’t conservative. 🙂

    But I would second the following parts of your definition:
    * Strong desire for liberty: assumes a focus on ‘smaller government’, not only in the economic sphere (although often more so), but also the social sphere.
    * What government there is, is to be honoured – the rule of law is the rule of law, and what changes need to be made (to government or the law) should happen from within the system.
    * Individual responsibility – this is crucial, and held in high regard.

    The other points…I can see pieces of them, but I don’t see them as representative of any kind of conservatism I’ve seen or heard of….and some of them are not even internally consistent. (for example, the law judges and God alone judges…..huh?)

    I’m in NY atm, I’ll see if I can work out a more complete response at some point. Peace and God bless

    • At 2008.12.03 23:08, admin0 said:

      You asked me what I meant by conservative and this is my answer. I’m interested in what you think is not christlike, and what is not conservative.

      I think sometimes people have an inaccurate view of what the Bible says about certain things or blur the spheres. Sorry a little “Truth Project” lingo but I don’t know how else to say it.

      I said God alone judges thoughts and motives. We are only given permission to judge fruit, and to punish evil. Not to judge motives or thoughts.

      • At 2008.12.03 23:14, Jordan Peacock said:

        Makes a bit more sense, thanks for the added explanation.

        Looks I sort of missed out….I just now found your Facebook note and ‘all-the-cool-kid’s comments’. *laughs* Oh well.