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Conservatism Is Not Complacency

Yesterday I read a comment in a book equating conservatism with complacency.  To say that to be conservative is to be complacent is arrogant, foolish, and ignorant.

The generally accepted definition of Conservatism, (even Wikipedia agrees), is that conservatism wants to keep traditional institutions, practices, and values.  What is complacent about thinking tradition is a good thing?  After all, traditions must be maintained in order to continue.

Traditions do not have the force of law or physics to support them.  To end a tradition, all that must happen is for people to stop following it.  People and organizations are actively trying to dissuade the public from continuing American traditions concerning family, self-reliance, and the role of government.  Continuing traditions when others are trying to destroy them requires vigilance and diligence, which are the opposite of complacency.

Some of these “complacent” traditions that, nevertheless, have value, are:

  • Marriage – Sexual relations are for marriage.  A man and a woman who are married should love, support, and be faithful to one another.
  • Family – Children should be raised by a mother and father who are married.  Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but it is the ideal to strive for.
  • Self-Reliance – The person who is responsible for your health and well-being is you.  If you do something monumentally stupid and/or irresponsible, you should face the consequences.  If you work hard to build a good life for yourself, you should reap the benefits.
  • Charity – Giving money, food, clothes, etc., to others is a good thing, and should be carried out by individuals and voluntary organizations, not government.
  • Government – The purpose of government is to look after national interests, things that are important to our country as a whole, such as the security of our borders.  It should not concern itself with the personal decisions of private citizens.
  • Second Amendment – People have a right to defend themselves, their families, and their property, in the way they think is best, while respecting the rights of others to do the same.  Period.

Does any of that sound complacent?  To actually live as a conservative is hard work.  It means you have to take care of yourself and your family, be an active member of your community, and try to be a generally good person, all while liberals and the media tell you that you’re a racist, ignorant bigot who should just let those infallible higher beings, politicians, make all the hard decisions (like what size soda to buy) for you, just because you want to live and let live.

Some time ago, President Obama made a snarky comment about racist and bitter voters who “cling to guns or religion.”  The implication is clear: both guns and religion are bad.  Why these things are bad remains unclear.  It’s probably because people who are religious and support the second amendment tend to disagree with the president.

What is wrong with “clinging” to your own way of life?  When the president equates it with racism and bitterness, he shows that he (like the rest of the left) doesn’t understand the value of tradition or traditional values.

It’s “traditional” to wash your hands after using the bathroom, to avoid spreading germs.  It’s traditional to learn to add and subtract.  It’s traditional to wait patiently in line at the cash register instead of throwing a temper tantrum.  We follow all these “traditions,” and many more, because they have value to individuals and society.

The same thing goes for the traditions valued by conservatives.  Being old-fashioned, commonly accepted, and expected does not make something wrong.  Just because the left says alternatives to tradition are fashionable does not make them good or right.

Conservatism looks at the past, finds value in it, and upholds traditional values and practices.  Liberalism looks for the next greatest thing, which turns out to not be not-so-great, so they must look for the next next greatest thing.  That sounds exhausting, and pointless.  I’ll stick with what I already know is good: conservative, traditional values.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

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