On Being a Conservative

file0001034329379I am a conservative because uniquely in America, I can be. I would not be considered conservative in the parts of the world which preserve the traditions of the past which include caste systems, slavery, and oppression. I will only preserve the past to the extent that it cherishes liberty. I have been blessed to be the heir to a nation which has been uniquely founded on liberty. The overwhelming trend in history is that people have not been free. The United States has fought and continues to fight to break itself from this cycle.

Jonah Goldberg has said “It is only in America that to be conservative means that you are defending a revolution.” The United Sates is a country that has set its values in place, and has begun the hard work to see them come to fruition, although imperfectly. We are a freer nation today than we were at our inception- but the Constitution provided the infrastructure needed to move us in the direction of greater liberty. I believe the US Constitution was the first step towards abolishing slavery, and it was not realized until a people motivated by virtue decided to make it so.

Ultimately, I find my identity in my faith. My faith provides the primary lens for how I view the world. All other labels are subordinate and temporal. I do not find my identity in being conservative, libertarian, or even American. I say I borrow from conservatism, much in the way that I borrow from libertarianism. If the day comes that I see no historical trends worth retaining, I will no longer be a conservative.

I believe this nation was founded, albeit imperfectly, on liberty and a belief in God. I cannot change this historical record in the same way that I cannot change which family from which On Being a Conservative QuoteI have descended. If I am at odds with the facts of the history of my country, I can distance myself from certain historical trends; but boundaries have been set in place by those who have gone before me. While there is an internal struggle to break free from these boundaries, I am wise to remember many of them have been created for a reason. Fences are built to preserve the freedom found inside its gates, knowing that outside the fences there are dangers unknown to those inside of them. We only learn which boundaries are necessary and which should be removed once we have studied and discussed the heritage we have been given. There is need for change, but a rush to change may make our need for change even stronger.

The United States is one of the few places in the world in which I want to be called conservative. The traditions of many nations are designed to layer society, rather than integrate it. The tradition of the United States is to fight for liberty and to preserve it. Today that liberty is being threatened on many fronts; we must work to regain what has been taken and preserve it for the generations to come.

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