by Bryan Case, Guest Columnist
November 2, 2009
As Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. leaves office to assume his new role as U.S. Ambassador to China, Lt. Governor Gary Herbert will take over the reins of state government. This has sparked a debate about whether Herbert is "conservative" enough. Before we make the leap to that judgment, why don't we define what we mean by conservative?
Interestingly, the origins of the term Liberal correspond to what we refer to as conservative today. The early liberals date back to Jacksonian beliefs in laissez-faire economics and strict constructionism in regards to the constitution. In the early years of our government one of the major parties was the Democratic-Republican. They were the primary opposition party to the Whigs. When Andrew Jackson came on the scene he was opposed by a large faction of the Democratic-Republican Party which broke away as the National Republicans leaving Jackson with the Democrats. So the original liberals were the democrats but bore no resemblance to the party of Barack Obama/Ted Kennedy.
The common belief today is that the Republican Party has become the torch-bearer for Jacksonian principles and that the modern Democrats have altogether abandoned them. I would argue, however, that both parties are simply flip sides of the same coin, the coin being the love of legislation. Modern-day Democrats are in the business of legislating in favor of "liberal" constituencies while Republicans are no less legislation-happy, just in favor of a different constituency. In fact, our newspapers grade our legislators, not by the restraint that they are able to demonstrate, but by the volume of legislation that they sponsor and pass. I would argue that neither party represents Jacksonian principles of strict limits to the scope of federal government.
Whether Republican or Democrat principles are correct is simply a straw man argument which successfully takes our attention away from the real issue. Both parties are equally zealous and convinced in their rightness and each wish to legislate me into conformity with their view of heaven. The problem with that thinking is that if I happened to be born into an Iranian household President Ahmadinejad would be equally as zealous to legislate me into his/her version of heaven. I would rather be left to work out my own salvation, thank you very much.
The issue, to me, is not whether the Democrats or Republicans are correct,
but rather their insistence that my life conform to what they believe correct
is. In essence, the two parties are twins in this respect. Neither one believes
in a limited federal role, they just disagree on what that role is.
So as we prepare to exercise our right to representation yet again, let's examine
with new eyes what a conservative really is. ***
© 2009 Bryan Case
Bryan graduated with a degree in Economics
from the University of Utah. He is married
and the father of three children. He also is a political independent who looks
forward to a new political age once the two party system self-destructs. In
addition to spending time with his family, Bryan's hobbies include camping,
genealogy and reading. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
© 2009 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN
All writers retain rights to their work.