Why I am a Conservative
As a child, I can remember falling asleep to speeches by Ronald Reagan. I didn’t understand policy of course, but I knew his rhetoric made me proud to be an American. Through his words, there was a connection to my country and a desire to serve my community and be the very best person I could be. Growing older, my life experiences opened my eyes to many conflicting truths. I was raised by a single mother. My father abandoned us early and my mom worked as a social worker to support herself, me and my incapacitated grandmother. Her job was incredibly draining and that fact combined with emotional health issues rendered her unable to work during my young teenage years and we ended up in poverty. We were dependent on low income housing projects, food stamps, and welfare. I lived in that environment until I was able to work on my own and that experience most shaped my belief system today. My mother could have worked. She was very educated and well trained. But the more she surrounded herself with entitlement safety nets, the more she adapted to that lifestyle, to the point of no longer functioning in a middle class working world.
I observed my mother take advantage of the system. Able bodied, but not working…going out to eat way more than necessary..spending money on wants rather than needs. I watched the families living around us doing the same thing. I watched the lethargy of compromise atrophy an entire community of people. Why work to get out of the situation if it was comfortable? I began to resent the “help” that kept us dependent.. I would rather work babysitting and buy my food from my meager earnings than use a food stamp that was given to me for no reason.
I began to read the historical texts of Locke and his stance on natural law appealed to me. As a teenager, I began to study the writings of the Founders and learned to appreciate the structure and order that frames our country. Modern-day Conservative thinkers resonated with me. I found myself aligning with Goldwater’s principles of conservatism: That there is a definite human nature, directed by natural law or the divine and there is a social order based on human nature, that freedom (moral, political, and economic) is paramount in a civilized society and servitude under any name is the mark of a lesser civilization and law and order ensures that freedom, That the adoption of political institutions, customs and traditions given to us through history, particularly the Constitution of the United States and all other great founding documents of our nation are the framework of our government. That our legacy of liberty is the product of wisdom and years of practical application, and we would run great risk trading experience for Utopian ideals; that government is good and necessary but also contains potential for great evil and should be restrained and utilized carefully through checks and balances; ensuring the strength of the republic by maintaining state and local government representation and limiting the power of the centralized government. I also found comfort in the realism of conservatism-that because of the depravity of human nature, striving for a Utopian society is a vain notion and the best we can do is maintain a society of basic civil order.
I don’t believe everything is black and white. I live in the grays so I do not easily subscribe to every ideal that comes up in conservatism nor do I blindly follow a political creed and fall into lockstep with every suggestion put forth by conservative thinkers.I don’t believe liberals are evil people. I honestly think both sides of the political aisle want to serve society and help people, they just have different ideas of how that goal should be accomplished. Some of the ways I lean more liberal are in the criminal justice arena and labor rights. I also believe history has shown banking regulations to be pretty necessary.
I simply feel, based on my life experiences, conservatism makes the most sense and is the most balanced approach to life. I subscribe to the idea that most people, with the right incentive, can accomplish much and stand on their own two feet to live a free life and live it well.