Simply stated, conservatism is the conviction that governments should consider past practice and the historical record—not untested theories and dynamic “solutions”—as they approach
problems. For example, the individual ownership of property has been a boon for humanity.
When developing taxation schemes and social programs to address perceived societal ills,
governments should consider private property’s record of success instead of relying on abstract socialist philosophy or capitulating to the confiscatory instincts of the masses.
The conservative, recognizing the long list of failed government interventions, sees only two
types of federal action as legitimate: that which protects the citizens’ lives, liberty, and property or ensures the survival of the nation in perpetuity. Even within these parameters, the government should act in a way that minimally intrudes upon the citizenry.
The conservative, unlike the libertarian, believes that history is conclusive on one point: Man is a fallen creature capable of unfathomable evil. Thus, the conservative is willing to concede a modicum of his liberty to ensure his safety from threats foreign and domestic, whether they
emanate from the ayatollah of Iran or violent insurrectionists in Portland, Oregon. Responses to these menaces should be vigorous, definitive, and conclusive. In that sense, a conservative government—recognizing that collective defense is better equipped to defeat threats than individual action—monopolizes legitimate force.
Unlike the progressive, the conservative sees the properly-oriented individual—christened by the Creator with agency and rationality—as an essential for a flourishing society. In fact, the
government exists so that individuals can utilize these capabilities as they pursue and achieve happiness (i.e., liberty). Government action that exceeds its mandate, co-opts the sphere of freely-acting individuals, or otherwise impedes upon liberty is illegitimate.
A conservative government is one of realism and limitations, and it allows individuals to dually protect themselves from the tyranny of the unchecked individual and that of an unchecked government. I am a conservative because I see these tyrannies as equally antithetical to liberty, and because conservatism is the ideology most consonant with human nature.