by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jay Nordlinger addresses for National Review Online a question that tends to occupy quite a bit of attention on the political right: What is conservatism?
If you call yourself a conservative, are you one? There may be something to that. I’m for a biggish tent, when it comes to conservatism — and Republicanism — but not for too big a tent. Otherwise, terms, philosophies, and parties have no meaning.
At last I’m coming to the point of this article — which is to give you my sense of what conservatism is, in our time and place. …
I believe that to be a conservative is to be for limited government. Personal freedom. The rule of law. The Constitution, and adherence to it. Federalism. Equality under the law. Equality of opportunity. Relatively light taxation. Relatively light regulation. Free enterprise. Property rights. Free trade. Civil society. The right to work. A strong defense. National security. National sovereignty. Human rights. A sound, non-flaky educational curriculum. School choice. A sensible stewardship over the land, as opposed to extreme environmentalism. Pluralism. Colorblindness. Toleration. E pluribus unum. Patriotism. Our Judeo-Christian heritage. Western civilization.
I want to throw in, too, the right to life. (I have said, over the years, “Show me where a man stands on abortion and Israel, and you have shown me all I need to know.”)
Now, it could be that I have simply declared what I believe in and called it “conservatism.” And I have no doubt that I’ve forgotten a few important things, as my critics on the right will no doubt tell me. (“Proof that Nordlinger is a Communist is that …”)
I also bear in mind something that Reagan often said: “If we agree 75 percent of the time, you’re my 75 percent friend, not my 25 percent enemy.”