Paula at It’s Only Words has a post looking for some feedback. From the post:
My question was, and is, how many conservative positions must one hold on the issues in order to be considered a conservative? The person who started the controversy contends that you must hold the conservative position on every issue, “with some minor variations.”
I left a rambling comment later in the thread that didn’t answer the question:
One thing that I think important that I’m not seeing in these comments: Is it possible to get a definition of “conservative” that doesn’t reduce “liberal” to stereotypes?
I think we have to start with the notion that conservatism and liberalism are ideologies and necessarily imperfect. An ideology by definition is not a search for wisdom: it already assumes it knows everything in order to move people’s passions. This can more easily explain why extremes on the Right and Left are both prone to embracing New World Order conspiracy theories where “Obama = Bush” and all that junk. Now of course, the crucial point is that when someone does that, they become apolitical – no less than Aristotle says that a democracy that is too much a democracy ceases to be a democracy.
It also would be very prudent to distinguish American conservatism from European strands. In some ways, American conservatism is becoming more like European, where fascism is a genuine threat. Just because the Obama administration will label anyone the worst enemy of mankind ever doesn’t mean that things aren’t getting ugly over here: I’ve run into way too many militias and openly white supremacist groups talking about things like Glenn Beck to find common ground with more reasonable people. There’s a lot on the line when one attempts to define conservatism, and one has to be very careful with even the most innocuous sounding rhetoric. While there are exceptions, the main reason why anyone brings up “states’ rights” is to say that the Civil War was inherently unjust. I’m sorry, but I’ll take big government over slavery any day. And our institutions work, as evidenced by the fact that just winning an election can make the opposition think twice.
I hope you’ll comment there and help her get some quality answers to her question.