Jun 09

Conservatism in America Today

There are three basic ways in which conservative politics manifests itself in the United States today. That is in the areas of the economy, the military, and entitlements. The general philosophy of those that adhere to conservative beliefs is a philosophy that the rights of the individual take precedence over the welfare of the state. The state has obligations to individuals, such as providing a means of self-defense for its citizens, and creating a social structure in which those individuals are free to develop and achieve according to their abilities. Government interference is considered destructive, and according to conservative thinking, should be kept to a minimum.

This philosophy supports a non-interventionist policy of government into economics, favoring a free-market economy as much as possible. Taxes are ideally as low as possible and expenditures are also kept to a minimum. This philosophy is known as fiscal conservatism and was given its moral backbone by such thinkers as Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. The basic position is that debt is inevitably corrupting to politics, big spending destroys the morals of the citizens, and national debt can create a dangerous class of speculators.

Another aspect of conservatism which is discussed less often is judicial conservatism. This stream of thought believes that when judges are asked to interpret the Constitution, judges should be experts in fairness. However, taking this one step further, conservative judges do not engage in “judicial activism.” This would mean that the courts should not be used to further the ideology of any particular group. It is the role of the legislature to enact laws to further the welfare of the country, and as long as these laws are not in conflict with the Constitution, it is not the job of the judiciary to declare these laws illegitimate.