Skip to comments.Conservativism and Morality (Cathryn Crawford)
Posted on 11/07/2003 8:12:15 AM PST by Scenic Sounds
Last week, after I wrote my column on conservativism, I received a considerable amount of mail telling me about the things that I neglected to say. It seemed a common consensus among the Republicans that I spoke too little about specific things like abortion, gun control, and free speech; and too much about general, basic beliefs.
I thought about these comments a lot, and I considered doing a column that addressed these specific issues each in turn but then I realized that there is one basic belief that underscores and supports conservative beliefs, including all these. As a matter of fact, it is an excellent summation of conservativism.
Conservative people have a moral compass that they, whether they live by it or not, acknowledge. They recognize and believe that all social questions, all government issues, can be traced back to a question of private morality. Conservatives have a strong belief that societies that are governed by people who are in turn governed by a strong moral compass are, in fact, better societies. They believe that a good government, a legitimate government, is one that is based on the conservative principles of justice, honesty, and honor.
This moral compass is what drives the main tenets of conservativism. Citizens with strong moral beliefs are less likely to act for the instant gratification of desires therefore, they are less willing to advocate frivolous and excessive spending on programs that are unnecessary. They have or should have a stronger work ethic and more independent inclinations and this translates into a desire for a smaller government. They dont feel that they need a government to take care of them. They are more independent minded.
This may sound like a general, feel-good statement, but its the core of conservativism. Conservatives hold their own to a higher standard. While we expect immoral ( an old fashioned word, but still relevant) behavior from those that we know are not guided by a moral compass, let a conservative commit a crime or even an act generally accepted to be bad, and conservatives will be the first to point it out and call them out on it. Think Bill Bennett, and, to a lesser extent, Trent Lott. As a matter of fact, conservatives tend to carry it to the other extreme their attacks on their own are more brutal than their attacks on those whom they hold to a different standard.
This moral standing moral compass is why the conservatives of America want to see less government rather than more. They believe that as government grows, so does its capacity to be corrupt. They believe that government will eventually grow to such a capacity that it will take away the liberty of the citizens. They also believe that this liberty is more important to protect than social norms or social consensus. Barry Goldwater sums this up in this paragraph from his book, The Conscience of a Conservative:
"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' interests, I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."
In closing, while the conservatives of America have their pet issues that they consider to be the nearest and dearest of their ideology, their real defining belief is in the strong ethical and moral foundation that their tenets were originally founded on. All the strong positions on gun rights, abortion, free speech all can be traced back to moral reasoning. The Constitution itself was originally founded on moral beliefs about the best way a government would serve its citizens. Morality is not just a part of conservativism morality is conservatism.
Cathryn Crawford is a student at the University of Texas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Tim Hutchinson.
First, the conservative believes there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permenant.So, you see, you are in the grand tradition with your observations.
This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twentyfive centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine , but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been the principle concern of conservatives ever since conservative has become a term of politics.
Our twentieth century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order.
It has been said by liberal intellectuals, that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society -- whatever political machinery it may utilize, while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society -- no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.
Do you believe that one can be a moral liberal?
I would say that a moral Liberal is a Liberal who believes the following:
Abortion is wrong.
Disarming crime victims is wrong.
Homosexual sex is wrong.
Redistribution of wealth from producers to parasites is wrong.
Find me a moral Liberal. You can't.
Don't say "in closing." Just close the piece with your strongest summation. "In closing" subliminally instructs the reader to stop paying attention - precisely at the one moment you want their full concentration.
In fact, the way you wrote the piece, you could just remove those two words and it would still make perfect sense.
Man, I LOVE talent! Keep up the great work.
How long are you gonna give me to find one? ;-)
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