My former professor, Dr. Mark Mitchell, has written an excellent article in which he asks whether the average conservative today is really conservative at all. He begins with a short four-question quiz, and then goes on to outline his understanding of traditional conservatism. His definition seems sound, and I fear that many Americans who would claim the label "conservative" are far outside this traditional understanding of conservatism. From Mitchell's piece (click here to read the whole thing):
Now let’s reflect on some of this. It seems that those who call themselves conservatives and liberals today by and large emphasize their rights rather than duties; they show precious little concern for the past, both as a repository for knowledge or as a source of duties; and they tend to speak in the glowing terms of progress. Finally, they all too often lack the humility that the conservative feels deep in his bones. The conservative knows that all good things are at root a gift. This disposition of gratitude fosters humility, and humility is necessary if we are to live responsibly, for humility acknowledges limits and a denial of limits is a key feature of the liberal mind.
When we consider all of this in light of our current political climate, it becomes clear that the apparent differences between conservatives and liberals in America today are far less dramatic than we are often tempted to believe. What we have is a variety of liberals, some more radical than others, but a truly conservative position is illusive and, what is more important, probably not desired by most of the electorate; although, there is always a remnant, and this remnant, I believe, would grow if a truly conservative alternative was articulated in a clear and compelling way.
I highly recommend reading the entire thing (click here). Ask yourself what you believe and whether you consider yourself Dr. Mitchell's style of conservative. Why or why not? And is he right that many modern "conservatives" are about as far from traditional conservatism as the leftists they rail against?