By Josh Senft
Conservative. You’ve likely seen this word a few hundred times on social media by now. Whether it’s a word that makes you smile or cringe, Conservatism needs to be defined.
Conservatism is a political ideology, at its core, centered around preserving ideas that work, reining in big government, upholding the rule of law, defending truth, promoting traditional values, fighting for fiscal responsibility and standing for life in the womb.
It seeks true justice on an individual level. It places emphasis on facts over feelings, states’ rights over federal overreach and capitalism over socialism.
We believe those who fought and valiantly fight for our freedoms deserve our utmost respect; it’s why we care so deeply about standing when the National Anthem is played. We also believe that the Constitution is the greatest charter of liberty the world has ever seen, and accordingly should be interpreted by its original intent.
We believe government governs best when it is closer to the people. Liberty flourishes when the government exercises little control over the people; markets thrive, innovation is inspired and individuals maximize their God-given potential.
We understand that big government can’t fix everything by itself. Senator Marco Rubio once said that, “The truth is every problem can’t be solved by government. Many are caused by the moral breakdown in our society. And the answers to those challenges lie primarily in our families and our faiths, not our politicians.”
President Trump, while a Republican, is not necessarily what I would call a true Conservative. Sure, the president shares a number of conservative policy ideas with Republicans, but he also harbors more liberal ideas in some areas—enough that there was a substantial pushback against him by the party during the primaries and more than normal pushback throughout the general election.
A common mistake people make is conflating Republican with Conservative as though they are always synonymous. I can assure you there are many Republicans who are anything but Conservative. There’s quite a bit of in-fighting amongst Republicans on this very topic. Just last week, the proposed Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act was pulled from a vote in the House after growing opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, a coalition of Republican House legislators dedicated to upholding Conservative principles. They saw the bill as what Senator Rand Paul originally coined as “Obamacare-Lite.” Now that the bill has failed, Trump is prepared to move on from healthcare; a supposedly unprecedented reversal on a major campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
What’s funny is Conservatives and Liberals alike may surely take issue with some of my comments above. To a degree, I wear that as a medal. I strive to call balls and strikes on both sides. Quite often I hear people proclaim that one must fall in the middle of the political spectrum to serve as an umpire. I disagree; it simply requires an unwavering commitment to honesty. While it’s certainly more politically expedient to be an umpire when you fall in the middle, it doesn’t make you the sole arbiter of absolute truth.
I know of those on both sides who strive for honesty in their political assessments. Nobody is perfect, myself included, but what is important is a vigorous fight to be honest and uphold the truth. Pay attention to those who promote truth, especially when their side has something to lose.
The flesh is flawed and will ultimately fail. Therefore, we should promote ideas and principles rooted in truth. There’s nothing wrong with an admiration of certain political figures; however, when we fail to acknowledge their humanity, their own inevitable flaws, when we treat them as though they are God, we fall victim to serving two masters.
Much of politics in recent years has become more of a cult of personality than an adherence to particular values and principle. To that end, I think we should be careful about who we completely align ourselves with as unofficial spokespeople for our respective movements. If our MO is to say whatever we can, as loudly as possible, merely to anger the other side, then we aren’t advocating for something meaningful, marketable or productive. Let’s advocate for what is methodical, idea-based and deeply rooted in truth. Be willing to engage the other side with creative ideas, not just rhetoric and insults.
Let us act as it is proclaimed in James 1:19 to be, “Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Let us boldly speak the truth in love to all those whom we encounter. Let us do this to better our city, our state and our country for generations to come so that, as Ronald Reagan once said, “We’ll preserve for this our children the last best hope of man on Earth or we’ll sentence them to take the last steps into a thousand years of darkness.”
Josh is a sophomore national security major from Middletown, Ohio.