I recently heard a radio talk show host call conservatism a doctrine. I’ve also heard conservatism labeled an “ideology.” Okay, but conservatism being an “ideology” does not mean that conservatives should behave as ideologues.
True conservatism favors established ways, tradition and social stability, careful progress over risky change. Political conservatism advocates for low taxes, limited government, strong national defense, and personal accountability. At the heart of conservatism lives principled clear thinking applied to facts, producing a commonsense, unprejudiced way of observing the world and deciding how to function within it. Effective conservatives would do well to steer clear of doctrine.
Empirical examples throughout history show that the conservative belief in letting people keep what they earn drives greater prosperity than confiscating those people’s earnings. Likewise, other conservative positions also emerge from examining what really happens in the real world, not by clinging to feel-good possibilities as liberals do.
Humans make lasting progress by relying on objectivity, not agenda-driven doctrine. The best, most effective conservatives attract maximum positive attention when driving no ideological agenda at all, including religious agenda. This point is not an attempt to indict religion, but is instead an assertion that religionists often act ideologically, not conservatively. Judeo-Christian values helped form America, but “conservatives” who thrust religiosity into politics pound turf as shaky as their liberal counterparts. Such conservatives wield as much unprovable dogma as “progressives” who preach “fairness” to people who haven’t behaved “fairly” in Homo sapiens’s entire 175,000-year existence.
Generally speaking, the liberal expects the best from humanity. The true conservative expects the best from humans, acknowledging the shortcomings of humanity. This fundamental difference explains conservatives’ happiness versus liberals’ misery. Liberals pout over humanity’s inability to live up to inhumanly high-minded standards, while conservatives delight at the individual motivation and self-respect bred by accountability, by the urge to make life happen instead of waiting for liberals to make life fair.
The conservative knows that individuals with the right stuff naturally conquer adversity to become the best. But this sickens the liberal. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shruggedcharacter Dagny Taggart, concerned over the incessant demonization of business people who thrive under stiff competition, said, “Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. … One can’t be penalized for ability.” Taggart recognized the liberal disdain for the concept of “the best.” She knew that liberals worship unearned “equality.” Liberalism deems it moral to destroy the best, believing that noble destruction somehow elevates the worst. To the “progressive,” more accomplished people must be slapped down for having the gall, indeed the meanness, to apply greater ability. And in the end, isn’t it more delicious to tear the high achiever down several notches than lift the laggard up just one?
Still, most liberals are as well-meaning as the conservatives whom they demonize. Liberals genuinely believe that they can legislate human behavior, that they can talk evil people out of evil deeds, that theycan render successful the socialistic/collectivist approach to governance which has always failed. Liberals believe that accumulating wealth is evil, particularly when that wealth is accumulated in the form of profits by corporations. The enlightened ones believe that earnings must be confiscated from earners who have earned “too much” and given to people who haven’t earned enough. Such “progressivism” arises from unclear thinking inside feel-bad minds longing for feel-good relief.
Why would any clear thinker yield to ideologues whose “solutions” obliterate self-respect and personal accountability, solutions that have over and over again worsened the human condition? Yes, liberals do generally have good intentions. But all the good intentions in the galaxy cannot transform defective thought into beneficial action.