Here’s something that might surprise you: I’m a conservative.
In many ways I don’t fit the stereotype. Specifically I’m a little too “hippie,” and would probably stick out like a sore thumb if I went to a conservative gathering right now (perhaps especially right now with our pending presidential election).
Nevertheless, in my heart I’m a conservative because I believe in conserving what’s wholesome and good. The root of conservatism is conservation, after all. What are we trying to conserve? Freedom and family, yes. But also the natural world. Also equity, justice, generosity and compassion.
I’m totally disillusioned by today’s political culture
Sadly, like a majority of young people today, I’m totally disillusioned by our current political culture. One of my heartiest complaints is that we’ve become overly partisan, and this partisanship has made us—made me—lazy. It’s herding our conversations into media-friendly channels, only exposing us to sound-bite worthy headlines from people we already agree with. The result is that we don’t take the time to learn about the true complexity of issues, and we don’t get to talk about them outside of the liberal/conservative boilerplate platforms.
Issues that shouldn’t be partisan (but sadly are)
When we make issues that shouldn’t be partisan partisan we’re doing a disservice to ourselves, to the poor all over the world, and to liberty. For example, here’s a list of issues (from the book, Living More with Less) that shouldn’t be partisan, and yet many of them are:
• Import-export agreements/trade policy
• The structure and oversight of international economic organizations (ex. IMF, UN)
• National farm policy
• International corporate farming
• Global unemployment, including fair labor and wages
• Development assistance for poor countries
• Arms dealing and military defense
• Environmental conservation
A lot of these issues aren’t sexy. In truth, most of them are a snooze fest that have me snoring in minutes. ALL of them are universally complex. Because of these reasons, they don’t make headlines, and when they do, they’re grossly oversimplified.
I’ll make a confession: I don’t pay attention to hardly any of them. This makes me susceptible to partisanship myself. That’s going to change. Because “The two realms—conserving resources at home and taking on economic and political issues—are as inseparable as the yolk and white of a scrambled egg.” In other words, every time I fill up with gas or buy food or upgrade my phone, I’m participating in REALLY BIG issues. And my choices matter.
So do yours.
I don’t want career politicians who are trapped (willingly or otherwise) in today’s current inflammatory partisan muck to define what conservatism is. I’m going to invest myself in the discipline of learning about these big issues. And I’m going to talk about them. Warning—it might get #awkward, but that’s okay. I’d like to see conservation put back into conservative, starting now.