Top 5 Myths And Misconceptions About Conservatives

Many people are misinformed about what exactly it means to be a conservative. Some people believe that all conservatives are racist. Others believe they are religious nuts. Still others believe they are homophobes. Like with any organization of people numbering in the millions, broad generalizations are often laughable. The caricatures of conservatives are no exception.

01
of 05

Mass congregation deep in prayer at a Promise Keepers event in New York City's Shea Stadium. Dario Mitidieri/Reportage/Getty Images

It's fairly typical for conservative ideology to be dismissed as the product of religious fervor. This is probably because Christians, Evangelical Christians and Catholics tend to embrace the key aspects of the conservative movement such as limited government, financial discipline, free enterprise, a strong national defense and the preservation of family values. While it's fair to say that most conservatives use faith as a guiding principle, most try to keep it out of political discourse, recognizing it as something intensely personal. Conservatives often will say that the Constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This means that practicing faith publicly is reasonable; public proselytizing is not.

02
of 05

Stuart McClymont/Getty Images

Although it is a frequent accusation, conservatives are not racists. In fact, conservatives believe in a equality for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity or national origin. This is why they oppose affirmative action. Conservatives believe affirmative action fosters racism because it provides certain groups with social, political or educational advantages that are unavailable to others. For true equality, all Americans must enjoy the same opportunities. Liberals also point to conservative Barry Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as evidence of "conservative racism." The reality, however, is that Goldwater supported earlier incarnations of the bill, but opposed the 1964 version because it encroached upon states' rights. In 2016, Republicans actually fielded the largest and most diverse slate of candidates for president of any party, ever.

03
of 05

A supporter of gay marriage holds up a sign during a rally in San Francisco held in response to the passage of Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage which was adopted by California voters on Nov. 15, 2008. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Not everyone who opposes gay marriage opposes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered liefestyles. By branding conservatives "hateful" because they oppose gay marriage, liberals imply that conservatives are unwilling to recognize gay love and commitment. Not so. Most conservatives who oppose gay marriage roundly support civil unions. For many people (not just conservatives), marriage is a sacred symbol of heterosexual love and commitment. Seeing it changed in such a profound way would be like the NRA suddenly claiming the rainbow flag as its symbol. Just as this would forever change the meaning of the flag for gay rights activists, gay marriage would forever change the meaning of marriage for a large part of the married community.

04
of 05

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, Commanding General (right), 101st Airborne Division returns a salute from a soldier on his tour at Camp Bostick in Naray, Afghanistan on April 16, 2009. Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images
Conservatives are often unfairly pegged as warmongers. In fact, every major war undertaken by the US in the past 100 years (except one) was initiated by a Democratic president. Democrat Woodrow Wilson entered the US into World War I. Democrat Harry S. Truman entered the US into World War II and the Korean War. Three Democrats, Truman, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson perpetuated the Cold War. Kennedy entered the US into Vietnam. While Republican George H.W. Bush entered the US into a conflict with Iraq, it was only to protect US interests in Kuwait. George W. Bush plunged America into the War on Terror in direct response to failed Clinton-era national security policies. Most conservatives support troops, but abhor war.

05
of 05

A US Border Patrol officer at work beside US/Mexican border. Robert E. Daemmrich/Getty images
Perhaps because most conservatives oppose amnesty for illegal immigrations, there is a common misconception that conservatives are opposed to immigration in general. Conservatives do believe in secure borders, which adds to the misconception, but the reality is that conservatives support open immigration -- when done properly -- because it creates a stable workforce of tax-paying Americans who strengthen the economy. Conservatives also favor assimilation for migrants. This doesn't mean new citizens can't retain aspects of their culture -- America is, after all, a great melting pot. Assimilating to American culture ensures new citizens will become functional contributing members of society.