What is Political Conservatism?
By Daryl L. Hunter

Written in 1999 at a time of budget surplus and before I had learned the power of tax cuts for the economy.

Is conservatism defined by a conservative thought process or by an established categorical check list? This is a question I have often asked myself. Spokesmen for conservatism reiterate repeatedly about how conservatism is defined by tax cuts instead of paying down the National Debt. I am told it is not conservative to advocate sustainable yield timber harvests in our National Forests or to conserve portions of our forest as wilderness.

Is conservatism defined by everyone conserving one's own piece of the pie, thereby trumping conserving for posterity?

I ask these questions as I try to define my position in the political spectrum. As an advocate for smaller government I must be a Conservative. As an advocate for the conservative use of our national forests I must be a Liberal. As an advocate for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other aggressive but reasonable development of Alaska's natural resources I am a Conservative. As an advocate for a balanced budget I must be a Conservative. As an advocate for eliminating the National Debt I am told I am a Liberal. As an advocate of school vouchers, gun rights, elimination of the Department of Education, severe reduction of socialism programs, advocating a moral agendum, spanking children as needed, I am a Conservative. As an advocate of postponing major tax cuts until the National Debt is brought under control, I am told I am a Liberal. I am vehemently opposed to pushing a liberal social agendum in our schools, a conservative position.

I fail to see how advocating the expenditure of $350 billion annually for interest for the "on budget" National Debt (debt held by the public) is a conservative position. Especially after you factor in the additional $124 billion dollars in IOU's we write for the interest for the "off budget" National Debt (debt owed to Social Security Trust Fraud). "Conservatives" advocate perpetuation of the estimated $475 Billion annual interest payment roughly one third of the gross domestic product. It is my view that a conservative position on this matter would advocate elimination of both on budget and off budget National Debts, thereby reducing budgetary needs therefore, taxes by roughly 33%, i.e., a smaller government.

This is my conundrum. Is Conservatism what is defined by a political party, or is Conservatism conservative? I see my position as more consistently conservative than party line Conservatism and the way I understand it, party line Conservatives view me as Liberal because Moderates are said to lean the way the wind blows not making strong stands on anything. Conservatives are always for tax cuts and I am an extreme advocate for debt reduction trumping immediate tax cuts, therefore not a moderate or conservative.

I suppose that my Conservatism is a paradox as is the Conservatism of the Conservative Movement.


Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide logo
For travel Information for the Yellowstone Region