The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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A Conservatism lesson for so-called conservatives

 A Conservatism lesson for so-called conservatives
A Conservatism lesson for so-called conservatives

A Conservatism lesson for so-called conservatives

Before I begin my lesson, I would like to congratulate Reed Hanson, Isaac Shutt, Brad Julsonnet and Andrew Hemming on their new political reader Mustang Post. Having founded a poetry magazine, I can vouch for the time and commitment that a start-up publication requires.

Of course, having financial and organizational assistance from The Collegiate Network has to make things easier. Not to mention the invaluable input from a conservative warrior like Brendan Steinhauser, who penned the feature article in the debut issue.

Conservative phenom (or parvenu), Steinhauser is a graduate of the University of Texas, former executive director of Young Conservatives of Texas and author of “The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle for College Campuses.” 

Mr. Steinhauser, it seems, has a penchant for using militaristic metaphors, not to mention hyperbole. Everything is a battle or a war. Everything is epic or revolutionary. Everything is a casus belli.

To Mr. Steinhauser Democrats are not merely liberals; they are ‘leftists’ waging war on the American way of life, which Mr. Steinhauser and his fellow ‘protest warriors’ are more than happy to let other men and women, mostly college-aged, die in Iraq to protect. Meanwhile, Steinhauser and his band of merry men fight make-believe battles raging on college campuses against would-be terrorist sympathizers disguised as mild-mannered college professors.

But enough about Mr. Steinhauser. I’m here to talk about conservatives–true conservatives.

First, let’s see how astute you are at discerning a true conservative from a faux conservative.  Read the following quotes, then decide who the true conservative is–A or B:

A) “I am staunchly conservative. And I do not affiliate with either major political party.”

B) “I am a conservative…but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state.  The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.”

If you chose the first quote, you’re probably not alone. The use of the adverb “staunchly” seemingly reinforces the person’s conservative credentials–or so you might think.  The second quote, especially the part that says, “[P]eople have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process,” sounds just a little too liberal –or so you might think.

The first quote, it turns out, belongs to Reed Hanson, whose recent article in Mustang Post, “Are you a Conservative?” lists opposition to abortion and gay rights as defining tenets of the conservative movement, arguing that “religion is more often a determinant of one’s moral values for conservatives.”

The second, lefty-liberal, free-loving quote belongs to the late Senator Barry Goldwater, the acknowledged founder of the modern Conservative movement, whose book “Conscience of a Conservative” is considered the bible of conservatism.

The answer is B.

Unlike Mr. Hanson, Senator Goldwater, a devout Episcopalian, believed that religion shouldn’t play a role in deciding public policy, abortion and homosexuality included.

On gays serving in the military, Goldwater famously said, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” I can only imagine how he would react to the discharge of gay Arab linguists–56 since the Iraq war began.

Likewise, Senator Goldwater believed that the federal government had no business regulating abortion.  In fact, Goldwater voted consistently against any attempt to outlaw abortion.

An early supporter of Ronald Reagan, Goldwater later became disillusioned by the conservative icon believing that Reagan pandered to religious conservatives – especially on issues like abortion.

When Jerry Falwell, commenting on Sandra Day O’Connor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, said, “Every good Christian should be concerned,” Goldwater replied, “[E]very good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

Goldwater’s criticism of the Religious Right did not stop with Falwell. “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right, “Goldwater said in a 1993 interview, adding, “There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics.  That goes for Falwell, Robertson and all the rest of these political preachers.  They are a detriment to the country.”

In a 1994 article in the Arizona Republic, he warned, “the radical right has nearly ruined our party. Its members do not care about the Constitution, and they are the ones making all the noise.” The same could be said today.

A supporter of prayer in public schools, Goldwater opposed attempts by his Party to pass legislation stripping the federal judiciary of the authority to ban school prayer because he considered an independent judiciary essential to the separation of powers.

All of this does not mean Mr. Hanson and Senator Goldwater do not agree on certain issues. Heck, Mr. Hanson and I agree on some issues. That doesn’t make me a conservative.

“Conservatives,” Mr. Hanson wrote, “prefer small government. This means less governmental intrusion into personal lives.” On that point, Mr. Hanson and Senator Goldwater could not agree more. The difference between the two is Senator Goldwater applied that principle to its logical and intellectually honest conclusion.

Mr. Hanson does not.

 

George Henson is a Spanish professor. He can be reached at [email protected].

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