Conservative Issues: The Modern American Conservative

by CJFosdick on October 18, 2009

The first time I became aware of conservatism in politics was in the 1964 presidential election where Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson. I was twenty-five. Goldwater rejected the legacy of the New Deal from the Great Depression era and is most often credited for sparking the resurgence of Conservative America in the 1960’s. Because the Democrats painted Goldwater as a reactionary, LBJ won the election. However, supporters still praise G0oldwater’s crusades against a strong federal government, labor unions, and the welfare state.*

However, the roots of conservative political development go back to the very beginnings of our country. Look back over two hundred years to 1802. Here are some quotes by Thomas Jefferson to show the conservative politics of that era: “The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not … it is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes … my reading of history convinces me that bad government results from too much government … no free man will ever be debarred of the use of arms … and I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”  What a brilliant start for our fledgling country! What a shining example for conservatives today.

President Abraham Lincoln back in the 1860’s, a hundred years ahead of Goldwater, was a proponent of conservative politics, this often overlooked in modern political politics. These are Lincoln’s words: “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Talk about a profound conservative theme. Lincoln could be speaking about current economic factors as well as social and global economic issues facing us today. So by the 1960s the modern American conservative program was well-defined.

However, it took President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s to most eloquently speak for the American Conservative Party of our modern world. When we think of conservatism today, we go back to the “Reagan Doctrine.” His words of wisdom in a particularly trying period of America history bought about political reform. He succeeded in changing the climate of opinion in the United States and even around the world. Democrats who crossed over and voted for him became known as Reagan Democrats and they helped him get elected twice. Reagan set the values and beliefs that conservatives still live by today. These ideals are included Reagan’s words: “the age-old dream — the maximum universal (belief) of individual freedom consistent with order (without which we go) on down to the ant heap of totalitarianism…whether we believe in our capacity of for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital (Washington) can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them for ourselves.” This statement defines the basic and irrefutable difference between conservatives and liberals — conservatives want small governments, self reliance, and lower taxes, while liberals want big government with government control over our lives, and higher taxes.

Information from Wikipedia.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: