This is the second in a three part series that discusses the differences between Liberal, Conservative and Independent voters and the implications as we head towards the 2020 presidential election. Tomorrow: Independents.
Like Liberals, Conservatives are often misunderstood. Also, like Liberals, Conservatives can be divided into two factions, with the more radical elements being portrayed to represent all Conservatives. Being a Liberal, I find many of their stances difficult to accept. Their approach is too authoritarian and their policies too business friendly.
So, what are Conservatives, and what do each of the factions of Conservatives represent?
The first faction of Conservatives represents those who have adopted the Jeffersonian concept of “that which governs best, governs least”. They are strict Constitutionalists, who believe the Founding Fathers had the wisdom and foresight to anticipate future events, thereby negating any challenges to existing law.
They believe in states’ rights over a strong federal government, but they also support a strong Executive branch over the other two branches of government. The Tea Party movement and Freedom Caucus spawn from this Conservative faction.
Not surprisingly, many Evangelicals are drawn to this approach. Since they believe the Bible to be “the word of God”, they also believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, reasoning that the Founding Fathers wrote it with the help of “divine inspiration”.
Therefore, the Second Amendment is sacrosanct and “the right to bear arms” is also a divine right. Since issues such as gay marriage or abortion aren’t in the Constitution, these Conservatives feel justified in their stances on both legal and religious grounds.
Like Liberals, Conservatives have a faction that embraces the more radical elements of their party. Because they believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, abortion, gay marriage and even civil rights are wrong because they haven’t been specifically addressed in by the Founding Fathers. Therefore, they can justify their racism, religious intolerance and hatred of immigrants because they aren’t mentioned in the Constitution.
This faction of Conservatives is largely uneducated, more prone to conspiracy theories and more resistant to change. By adopting the “Change” mantra, the Obama campaign triggered the very idea this faction feared. As a result, they spent eight years attempting to delegitimize President Obama’s authority through a series of convoluted conspiracy theories that were promoted by radical right-wing sources.
Unfortunately, this is the dreaded “base” that is the support structure for the current administration. They are also the primary perpetrators of violence against the left, such as in Charlottesville or the person who sent pipe bombs to several Liberals.
Like Liberals, the two Conservative factions have areas of agreement.
They both want fiscal responsibility, which is a contradiction in this administration. They strongly support the Second Amendment and oppose a woman’s right to choose. They support a strong Executive branch, but also support states’ rights over a strong Federal government.
What will happen in 2020? Will the Conservatives win once again, or will the Blue Wave of the midterms carry over? Only time will tell.
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.