Don’t tell my wife.
Nah, it’s okay. She already knows.
I guess I’ve always known too. Deep down. I just couldn’t face the truth.
But, you know, the pressure builds up inside you, and it has to come out, the consequences be damned.
I’m about to make a confession I have never dared to say out loud before. Deep breath, and here we go:
I’m a conservative.
Oh. I feel better now. Look, I’m smiling. And why not? I am finally free.
Let me say it again.
I’m a conservative!
Ooh, the exhilaration! Gosh amighty! I’m out and I’m lovin’ it!
A careful observer would have spotted the telltale “giveaways”, subtle chinks in my liberal orthodoxy. I’d say “black” instead of “African-American.” I’d say “Indian.” And I’d never feel guilty. (Because my intentions were benign.)
In my writing, I refuse to say “his or her”; I say “their.” “His or her” is an insult to rhythm. “Their” says it all. In a single syllable.
My personal character screams conservatism. With my money, I insist on a conservative investment strategy, wishing only to keep up with inflation. And a tiny bit more.
I’m a conservative dresser. Corduroy goes in and out of fashion. I’ve worn it continually for years.
I’m conservative in my eating habits. When I’ve had my fill, though there’s still plenty left on my plate, I stop. I’m also a coffee-drinking conservative. No more than one cup a day. And when frequenting my favorite coffee emporium, no “Bitch’s Brew” – too strong – no “Angel City?” – dish water. Shunning the extremes, I choose “Venice Blend.” An unswervingly conservative selection.
I’m a cowboy fan. Cowboys live by conservative values. It’s in their “creed.” Honestly. Loyalty. Fair play. Courage. Trustworthiness. Respect for all people, and for the land.
I admire the cowboys, and the values they hold dear.
I support health care for everyone, because you shouldn’t have to go broke, because you or a loved one happened to get sick. I’m against capital punishment, because, matters of life and death are God’s business, not ours. And if you’ve got more money than you need, what’s the problem in sharing some of it with the poor?
Maybe it’s ‘cause I’m new to conservatism, but I really don’t see the conflict.
Not long ago, I took an Extension class at UCLA called “The History of the American Right.” I realize taking one class doesn’t make me an expert. I believe eight classes make you an expert.
Yes, I’m kidding. Conservatives can kid.
I can truthfully say that that class really opened my eyes. For the first time, I identified with conservatives.
They sounded like me.
Most significantly, the class introduced me to Edmund Burke, an eighteenth century thinker, honored as one of the Founding Fathers of conservatism. Burke believed you acted conservatively by being thoughtful and deliberate in your decision-making.
In a phrase, we’re talking “Hold your horses.”
Edmund Burke believed in change. Not the inevitability of change – “It’s coming, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” Burke believed change was natural and desirable. Though he opposed the
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
type of thinking,
Burke stood equally against the
“What don’t we want?”
“When don’t we want it?”
point of view.
As a conservative, Burke eschewed the extremes, favoring
“What do we want?”
“How do we want it?”
“Thoughtfully and deliberately.”
With no exclamation points.
I guess anyone has a right to define what “conservative” means. And there’s no rule saying the belief system can’t re-configure itself over time. (The faction who once championed Prohibition were the liberals.) The problem for me is, as of now, I have no ideological home.
I can’t join today’s conservatives, because they seem a long way from “thoughtful and deliberate.” However, if they ever decide to return to conservatism’s earliest principles, despite the insults and abuse that are certain to come my way,
I may very well join up.