A Definition of Conservatism


Political conservatism in the United States is both an intellectual/theoretical tradition and a popular political movement.

As an intellectual tradition, political conservatism does not necessarily focus on any particular political position or issue. In fact, most conservative traditionalists disagree with one another over a number of issues including (but not limited to) abortion, stem cell research, capital punishment, the environment and war. Nevertheless, these intellectual traditionalists tend to subscribe to the same conservative principles, those being primarily the importance of family, but also a small or limited government, a strong national defense and free enterprise.

As a popular political movement, conservatism is more specific regarding a host of specific political issues that include (among other things) the pro-life movement, judicial restraint, welfare reform, immigration reform and the sanctity of marriage (specifically the opposition to gay marriage).

Conservatism is also an umbrella term that embodies several different types of politically conservative philosophies. These are often primarily identified as neoconservatism, paleoconservatism and social conservatism, but they also include fiscal conservatism, cultural conseratism and crunchy conservatism.

Pronunciation: kunservitizim

Also Known As: moderation, orthodoxy, preservation, prudence, right-wing, reactionary, temperance, traditionalism, utilitarianism

Alternate Spellings: conservativeness

Examples: Former President Ronald Reagan: "The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom, and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

Author Craig Bruce: "Liberalism is financed by the dividends from Conservatism."

Actor Robert Redford: “Because, you know, you're in Utah. And because of its political conservatism, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”