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Why Conservatism

Updated on September 13, 2016


I've written about Conservatism principles and philosophy but this hub focus on the why. It is one thing to make a list of believes and principles and tell someone this is the path to better government and is quite another to convince someone that they are the "right" path.

-October 2015


Behind every principle in government, there is an underlying reason. To answer the why of conservatism, you need to understand human nature and how it relates to our current worldly state. I will be the first to admit Conservatism would not have worked in ancient times. Our civilization has been around for over 5000 years. During that time, we have had empires and kings and pharaohs and dictators and tyrants. In certain period of history, the reason some government succeed is that they rule by fear. The strong will conquer the weak and they prosper until another more powerful take over. It is only in the most recent time of 200 plus years that Democracy and government by elections is the reality. It took a revolution to make this happen.

Human Nature

Understand human nature and adapting to it is the key to a successful government. Humans are selfish and self preservation is a key goal. Humans are also pragmatic. They will compromise and negotiate to get the results they want. Humans are compassionate. This is one difference we have between us and the animal kingdom. We have empathy for others and want to help.

Humans are realist and not idealist. They may wish for utopia but will settle for a just and free society.


Survival is one of man's great instincts. Not only individual survival but the survival of our progeny and our species. Civilizations were formed along with various bureaucracy in order to propagate and prosper. The difference with humans is that we have the intellect and compassion to sacrifice the individual at times for the good of the many.


The history of our existence on earth is marked with various civilizations that came and went. These civilizations has brought us many inventions and wisdom and have improved our lives down through the ages.

The path has not always been easy or smooth. We had experimented with kingship, dictatorship, fascism and communism as various forms of government. Because of human nature, eventually they fail to survive or thrive.

It is not by accident that we ended up with a Democracy and Capitalism as the combination that have succeeded beyond anyone's expectation.Years ago, there was a TV show and book called Connections by James Burke. Let me co opt his ideas to explain where we are today.

What was needed is a period of enlightenment and the invention of the printing press which allow the common people to be educated and be knowledgeable and to learn from the past. It is also where the Bible could be mass produced economically where the common people could read the Word of God. The American Revolution brought about the Constitution. The industrial revolution came about and allowed the masses to gain wealth and also gain leisure time. The current generation is uniquely suited to be able to "govern" based on democratic principles of one man one vote.

Conservatism - A Natural Progression

From the Bible to Adam Smith to the Pilgrims to our Constitution and the founding of our nation, the path to Conservatism was paved. This path required a nation that are founded on Christian philosophy, a people who are well educated, a people who are self reliant and adventurous and a people who are tolerant of all. The Conservative belief of limited government is central to this ideology. The culmination of this philosophy was represented by Ronald Reagan in the 1980's. This has brought down the Soviet Empire and lead to the longest prosperity in modern history.

In recent years, some have question the wisdom of this form of government. Especially since the failure of the Dot Com boom/bust and the various financial failures since. It is normal to question especially when things are not going smoothly. However, the cause of the problem is not so easily identified and therefore the solutions may not address the original cause. The financial crisis of 2008 is a prime example. The cause of the problem was the housing bubble and the mortgage crisis which led to the financial excesses and crash which required a government bailout... The problem was not caused by conservative policies and yet it was blamed on a lax oversight of wall street by a Republican Administration. The solution of bailout and Dodge Frank regulations was not the correct response. We are now burdened with excessive regulation and a stagnant economic recovery.

Our Progress In Peril

Our government is now in peril. The causes are many.

  • Rising debt
  • Global competition
  • Poor Education
  • Politicized Press
  • Crony Capitalism
  • Over Regulation
  • Lack of leadership
  • Gridlock Congress
  • Activist Court
  • Complacent and miss informed electorate
  • Broken Immigration policy

Why Conservatism Is The Right Answer

If you examine the list of ills above, Conservatism has the answers. I won't repeat them here but you can read about it in my hub on Conservative Principles Defined.

With all the progress that have been made, it is not a guarantee that they will continue. Our freedom and liberty is under assault by our own government. From the NSA to the EPA to the IRS, our privacy and security are being eroded. The one sure way to loose our country is to be complacent and not pay attention to our elected officials or not participate in elections.

Remember, "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people."


In this hub, I tried to explain why Conservatism is the better form of government. It combines the best of all worlds and it works with our human nature to provide the framework for a just and free society. It is not perfect and no worldly form of government is. It is the best that we can do. I welcome comments and alternative opinions.


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    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Earl, I get what you are saying but individualism is not a political system. Our society requires a government to keep order. The debate has been which system (economical, political) have the better idea. Some including Bill Gates are saying socialism is the way forward. I totally disagree with that. An educated populace and Conservatism is my ideal. Thanks for checking in.

    • Earl Owens profile image

      Earl Owens 2 years ago from USA

      Your Thomas Jefferson quote sums up everything wrong with the beliefs of the people of the United States today.

      "A Democratic society depends on an informed and educated citizenry."

      We are not informed or educated about the most important issues effecting us. Jefferson and the founders knew this which is why our founding documents set America up not as a democracy but as a republic.

      The question you mean to ask is not why conservatism, it is why individualism. Individualism is where each individual has the same natural rights and nobody can take them away from you. In a republic the governments job is to protect those rights. A democracy inherently tramples those rights.. A democracy is when the majority can violate the rights of the minority. A democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner.