Why I Am A Conservative

To condense into a short essay the reason I’m a conservative is no mean feat. From my perspective In order to represent my reasoning I need to address not only what it is about conservatism that first captured my attention, but also how I believe that the principles of conservatism best suit humankind’s natural inclinations and that of society as a whole.

My initial introduction to what conservatism embodies was through Russell Kirk’s magnum opus “The Conservative Mind”. Kirk’s rendering of conservatism’s legacy fascinated me primarily because I found it to be such a noble heritage and I was intrigued by conservatism’s persistent quest for seeking the high moral ground. Kirk’s book was consistent with other works on conservatism I read in their respect for virtue, humility, tradition, and piety grounded in the natural laws of Judeo-Christian beliefs. I found it interesting how those wonderful values are also very much rooted in the formation of local communities that serve as the building blocks for the world’s greatest civilizations, epitomized by America’s founding. I also came to appreciate that conservatism’s respect for ancestral wisdom has served as a guiding principle for leaders from Burke, Washington, Disraeli, and Lincoln to Churchill, Thatcher and Reagan.

However in keeping with the conservative’s propensity for prudence I’ll do my best to refrain from pontificating too much on conservatism’s rich historical heritage or hazard excluding essential elements. I’ll defer to the more capable writings of doyens such as Kirk or George Nash to impart conservatism’s legacy, or recommend the musings of Hawthorne, Chesterton, Tolkien, Orwell or O’Conner or any of the other many brilliant writers with conservative leanings to express the merits of a conservative mindset through life’s lessons.

I’ve mentioned the influences that led me to conservatism, but it’s more challenging to express how I actually became a conservative. To read about a philosophy and admire its principles is one thing, but it is altogether different to actually embrace it as a beacon for how one conducts their life. So I feel the best vehicle for articulating that thought is through the metaphor of sports. Now I was never what one would characterize as a magnificent athlete, but I certainly wasn’t a “spaz”. I wasn’t gifted enough to play on any of my high school squads (for the record I vied with 2,500 other boys for spots on the squads), but I played basketball, football and baseball in pickup games on sandlots and playgrounds with passion and verve, savoring the thrills and tribulations of each stretched out triple, missed layup or Hail Mary reception.

It always appeared to me that athletics represent a microcosm of the qualities necessary to subsist in life. Athletes must develop and hone their skills, be prepared for sacrifice, dedication, self-discipline and exhibit a competitive spirit. Sports also have a communal quality. Coaches, trainers, teammates, family, friends, fans, and even fellow competitors are part of the athlete’s overall community, support system and sphere of influence. Most sports also have time-honored traditions, rules, modes of behavior and conduct that the participants and officials hold in high esteem and are maintained as much as possible in consideration of changing times and events.

The athlete also has a sense of humility and piety. They realize their gifts are special and more often than not express an appreciation to a higher power for their unique talent. And of course the ultimate goal of any athletic endeavor is the sweet sensation of victory. How many times have we heard the star player humbly declare that they would forego individual accolades for a team championship? This is the attitude of the dedicated competitor who places their team above personal gain, and their individual accomplishments are only fulfilled if their team earns the admiration of their peers as the best in class.

The attributes of sports are analogous to the values of conservatism on many levels. If we dedicate ourselves to our missions in life, take advantage of our God given talents, respect our fellow man’s person and place, appreciate our obligations to those truly in need, contribute to our community, have a sense of humility, pride and piety, learn lessons from our own decisions and those of other’s, and in the course of life’s journey accumulate some property then, whether we know it or not, we’ve led a life of conservative values. Conservatism, like sports, is the anti-entitlement philosophy. We are only entitled to the spoils of that which we have earned, and respectful of those who endeavor toward greatness.   

Russell Kirk once characterized the conservative life as that which strives to live a life of grace. He wrote, “A poor man, if he has dignity, honesty, the respect of his neighbors, a realization of his duties, a love of the wisdom of his ancestors, and possibly some taste for knowledge or beauty, is rich in the unbought grace of life.” Although I may not always hit Kirk’s marks in how I conduct my own life, I couldn’t craft a better testament as to why I am a conservative.

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Categories: Conservatism, Conservatives, Western Civilization

5 replies

  1. A progressive is, seems to me, a fellow who wishes to change things. Conservatives tend to oppose particularly, imposed changes, which are the Progressive stock in trade.

    One notes that in most cases, changes opposed by conservatives are aimed at situations that work, though imperfectly and are composed of ideas with unproven or even doubtful workability. Such does not deter the Progressive, rather goading her on to further effort.

    I think I prefer to raise my kids in a conservative milieu…when they become teens, let them go live with the more exciting Progressives…

  2. Forget, please, “conservatism.” It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and thus irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    

”[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.

    “American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    
John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
    Recovering Republican
    JLof@aol.com

    • Makes you wonder what ‘godless’ conservatives you ceaselessly slam. I’ve met few. They exist, but the true fundamentals of Christianity and conservatism are virtually indistinguishable.

      Makes you wonder what part of the following statement is so offensive to John. Sounds pretty good to me.

      “If we dedicate ourselves to our missions in life, take advantage of our God given talents, respect our fellow man’s person and place, appreciate our obligations to those truly in need, contribute to our community, have a sense of humility, pride and piety, learn lessons from our own decisions and those of other’s, and in the course of life’s journey accumulate some property then, whether we know it or not, we’ve lead of life of conservative values. Conservatism, like sports, is the anti-entitlement philosophy. We are only entitled to the spoils of that which we have earned, and respectful of those who endeavor toward greatness.”

Trackbacks

  1. DAILY MUST READ: The Imaginative Conservative #TCOT #WAR | Cultural Hegemony
  2. DAILY MUST READ: The Imaginative Conservative #TCOT #WAR | The Boston-Gazette

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