Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Commentarama Polls: Defining Conservatism

Yesterday, I pointed out that the term "conservative" is actually ambiguous because it means different things to different people, and sometimes those things conflict. Today, we're going to find out what Commentarama readers think it means to be a conservative.


AndrewPrice said...

By the way. . .

1. Not all of these are necessarily conservative.


2. We'll analyze the results in a couple days after everyone gets a chance to vote.

Thanks for voting!

StanH said...

I tend to be a Conservative/Libertarian. Sometimes I get astray of some of the Conservative doctrine. To me conservatism means freedom, freedom to win, freedom to lose, choose wisely Grasshopper, because with the freedom of choice comes responsibility.

To bad about Hoffman! But may be a good object study for people who want to throw the Republican party over the side.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I'm not sure there is a Conservative Doctrine. As I said before, conservativism seems to come in many flavors.

I love the "choose wisely grasshopper." LOL!!

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew, in part three I did not vote that requiring a balanced budget was a deal breaker. Rather than do so, I chose to hit other. A candidate who does not fight for fiscal restraint and smaller government is a deal breaker for me, but I stop short of requiring a balanced budget, at least at this point.

JG said...

What a thorough list. There were several I had never really considered before - like state-sponsored prayer. Which gives me chills up my spine (not thrills up my leg). Voluntary, sure, but I'd rather have no prayer than government-regulated prayer, which is what that would eventually turn into. However, while not every thing on that list is what *I* would consider to be "conservative," I could picture someone I know for each item claiming it to be the "true" conservative position.

As you say, it's a murky thing.

BevfromNYC said...

In true Commentarama fashion, I will not stick with the rules and say that my LEAST necessary issue is abortion rights. I find it tiresome that this is the one issue by which women are supposed to judge ALL politicians.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! Someone always has to break the rules!

Actually, I wanted to get at "least important" (i.e. strength of opinon), but it wasn't possible without turning this into a hundred page long questionaire that looked suspiciously like an SAT test!

AndrewPrice said...

JG, Thanks! You should have seen the original list! Ug. Sometimes, less is more.

Each of the things listed here are positions that I've heard (at one time or another) as "the true conservative position." Which is not to say the view is widely held, but it is out there. I just wanted to see how all of you felt on these issues, and to see if we can get a sense of what's really important to conservatives.

On prayer, I agree with you. I think the biggest danger to religion is government sponsorship. The government has a way of sucking the meaning out of everything. Look at Europe.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree that fiscal responsibility is a must. I'd like to see a balanced budget, but I also want to see how they plan to do it.

I originally had "smaller government" and "fiscal responsibility" on the list, but I was concerned that this was an easy thing to say, but didn't really get to precise policy. I've been trying to work out the details of setting up a poll that asks people what kinds of spending they endorse, but I'm still working on that.

CrispyRice said...

Good food for thought, Andrew!

I'm with Stan in that I straddle Conservative / Libertarian and would like to see smaller gov't coupled with more individual freedom AND responsibility.

I'm also with Bev that I find the assumption that all women only care about abortion silly.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks CrispyRice. I can't wait to see how this one turns out. It already rather interesting!

I'm working on trying to figure out how to poll the "smaller government" question in a meaningful way!

On abortion, you mean that you're not a stereotype? Hmm. Imagine that! :-)

rlaWTX said...

for Other: I wanted something about
smaller government.
I understand the problem in survey creation. [I tried it for my college stats class and my grad school experimental class. They were interesting, to say the least.]
I prefer a candidate to give thought to the pro-life side of things, but I am a pragmatist on that issue (which nearly got me kicked out of the college pro-life club!) and recognize that 100% is IMPOSSIBLE and that there are braoder issues in that pot (stem cells, cloning, etc) - so I give some leeway there.
I chose "repeal the income tax", but what I really meant was FIX IT!!!! The bureaucracy that has risen up around the IRS is unfathomable and probably more frightening than the FBI, ATF, CIA, etc combined.

I look forward to the final results!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I had issues like that in the original plan, but with the number of questions approaching an unworkable number, I had to eliminate a lot of them.

I am planning though, to dig deeper into some issues in the future -- like the small government issue.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

For the "other" category in the final question, I expect a conservative to have a position on low taxes and *fair* taxes, meaning I don't support any kind of progressive taxes. As Obama likes to say, everyone should have "skin in the game." Poor as well as rich should pay taxes. And earned income credits, or "negative income tax" as Nixon called it, should be abandoned completely. I would like to see a conservative come out and explain why fair taxation is so important.

Having said all that, I don't expect progressive taxation to be disappearing any time soon.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, Politically, progressive taxation is very tricky. It lets one group benefit at the expense of another, so it creates a strong lobby for keeping it in place the way it is. It also lets the Democrats argue that any attempt to fix the system would "disproportionately" harm the poor.

Very tricky politically.

FB Hink said...

My "others", beyond those voted on… Obviously no candidate would support all of these unless he/she had suicidal tendencies but I can dream big…

Committed to:

1. Zero-based budgeting processes to justify programs and departments each year.

2. Elimination of some cabinet-level departments. Agriculture, Energy, Education, HUD, HSS come to mind.

3. Eliminate all backdoor congressional de facto laws through funded and unfunded mandates.

4. Line item veto for executive branch.

5. Constitutional Amendment for congressional term limits.

Andrew, what might be a couple of fun posts in the future would be:

Constitutional amendments, love ‘em or leave ‘em, Which should stay, which should go, and what should be added.

Tax policy: Progressive, flat, or conspumption.

Great poll!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Hink! And thanks for the ideas. I hope to expand on a lot of those ideas in the future.

Individualist said...

I chose other so that I can include employers hiring illegal aliens especially because it creates an underground economy which encourages other crimes such as tax evasion and identity fraud (selling of SSN cards).

I also deel strongly about removing subsidies and regulation such as in the agriculture industry.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, Both good causes. Sadly, it didn't quite work to include more options in the third question. But I do plan to explore these points in greater depth in future polls. Thanks for the input!

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