Friday, May 16, 2014

Which conservative do you mean?

Conservatives fit into three general categories:  The Wall Street conservatives, who only really care about making money; the libertarian conservatives, who believe in small government even though they may not always agree as to its exact parameters; and the social conservatives (mainly Christian evangelicals) who want a government that actively and aggressively pursues a pro-religion, anti-abortion, anti-gay social agenda.  Obviously, one problem that conservatives have is that many of these agenda items are in conflict; if you’re a libertarian conservative you are most likely pro-gay-marriage; if you are a social conservative, then not so much.  And yes, liberals too fit into sub-categories with conflicting agendas and I’ll write about that another time.

Doug Wilson is an unabashed social conservative who openly and forcefully calls for America to be a Christian theocracy.  In a recent blog post, he criticized another conservative for not being sufficiently anti-abortion and anti-gay, and used her as an example of what is wrong with modern conservatism.

Without getting into the merits of whether abortion is a bad thing or gay marriage a good thing, the real problem here is that conservatism is undefined.  Wilson’s criticisms are only legitimate if the social conservatives are the “true” conservatives and the others apostates.  As soon as one acknowledges that conservatism might possibly mean getting government out of the social engineering business, then his argument falls apart.



  1. Next time, start with your definitions so you can win the argument

  2. Ah, but my whole point is that there is no real definition of conservative. A definition only works if it's widely agreed upon so that people understand what is being talked about, and there is no widespread agreement about what it means to be conservative.