On being a conservative

    Posted July 5, 2012

   Today, I was struck by an article I read in The Press, a local free newspaper, primarily dedicated to entertainment here in Anchorage. With every entertainment newspaper comes the inevitable topic of politics, especially in the editorial sections. No matter the material, one of my favorite moments of each week is getting the new issue, and combing through it while sipping on beer or wine. I simply love the holistic snapshot it gives of Anchorage, politics and all.

This week stepped up to the plate like no other on the latest of political issues: Obamacare and Same Sex Marriage. While the article on Obamacare was spot on, it didn’t trigger me like the one on same sex marriage. This one regular contributor, a self-proclaimed conservative named Mike Dingman, did a decent spew on the definition of  the term conservative, and what it means to actually be a conservative, not a republican, but a conservative. He noted that if you are registered as a Republican, there are specific platform beliefs that you are representing whereas if you are simply stating you’re a conservative, you are standing by that term’s definition. And what is the definition, he asks?

He wrote to remind other conservatives what it does mean, and he kindly asks them to reflect. Reflect about what being conservative means you stand for: less government interference and more personal freedoms. He claims that true conservatives should support same sex marriage, and that if they don’t, they are contradicting the term conservative. While this may be true, it seems to me that this country is thoroughly drowning in party politics, and that most Republicans claim to be conservative, but not by his definition. I’ve never in my life met a Republican who supports same sex marriage, but heck if they don’t claim to be a conservative! This was clearly his point, but I had to wonder why he doesn’t claim to be a liberal? Am I the one confused or is it him?

His definition sounds more liberal than what most conservatives I speak with talk about. They clearly aren’t about freedoms because many of them insist on limiting those as well as inhibiting human rights from happening for all. Mind you, not all Republicans, or Conservatives for that matter, speak this way. I’m not writing this to stereotype or point blame, but what I am suggesting is that no one really knows what these terms mean anymore, and many, many others, have no idea what they believe. This results in terms, such as conservative and liberal, being abused. Many cross these lines so now, we have a term such as conservative being thrown around improperly and poorly used. It’s as if we could replace these terms with any other word, and no one would really care because none of them mean anything anymore.

Maybe the true Republican of this day and age is a fascist in nature, supporting corporation control because really, without Obamacare, we are truly suggesting that they should control us, and isn’t that what, in part, fascism is? A dictatorship if you will? Oh, there I go, I’m throwing terms around without really thinking. Then again, isn’t that what we all do at times when it comes to politics?

My point here is that when it comes to political terms, they aren’t what they used to be and what we really need to be considering are these questions: What are my beliefs, nevermind the labels or the terms? Do I stand for human rights? Do I stand for opportunity? Do I support a universal healthcare system, why or why not? It is super difficult to put all of your beliefs behind a single label, but what isn’t difficult is being able to have the discussion about what you think with conviction and clarity. So, next time you’re listening to someone throwing terms around, instead of arguing due to the label they have given themselves, find out what they think, and why they think it. And if they can’t clearly explain themselves, well then, I think you should be able to take them down quite easily.

Mr. Dingman makes a good argument for all of us in that he wants us to reflect about our beliefs and with that particular point, I couldn’t agree more.

Partial credit on these ideas goes to Mike Dingman. 

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