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What are Conservative Politics?

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  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Conservative politics are the viewpoints and practices of political conservatives. Although conservative politics may differ in countries across the world, there are a few characteristics that apply for all conservatives. Conservatives traditionally acknowledge the ideals of right-wing politics, determined by their position on the political spectrum. In general, conservatives promote the continuation of "traditional" values and institutions. Conservative politics can often be broken down into more specific categories, including social, fiscal, and religious conservatism.

Conservatives belong on the right side of the political attitude spectrum, to the left of reactionaries. They are generally either content with the status quo in governance, or some may support regressive policies. Conservatism rejects the principles of liberalism, eschewing most progressive ideals about changing society. Even if some conservatives embrace viewpoints revolutionary to the era, such as gender equality, they will most likely not support adopting radical measures to bring about equality.

Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797) is often referred to as the father of modern conservative politics. Burke was a member of the Whig Party in Great Britain's House of Commons. He spoke extensively about the revolutions in the United States and France, supporting the American revolution because he pointed out that the colonists rebelled because the English did not acknowledge rights already established in the law. The revolution in France, he believed, attempted to fight for rights that never existed for French citizens. Burke mainly supported governmental authority and accepted the division between the elite ruling class and the lower class.

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Conservative politics more closely represent a maintenance of the status quo than do the political ideologies on the left. For example, in the United States, conservatives support a capitalist society and the rights outlined in the Constitution. In Great Britain, conservatives approve of the current parliamentary system of government. Israeli conservatives most likely uphold the current borders and policy towards the Palestinian territories. Some conservatives may even have regressive views, suggesting that the society and government adopt the common viewpoints and practices of earlier historical times.

Right-wing conservatives tend to be suspicious of left-wing political ideologies. Although both groups may support liberty, they have different approaches to analyzing and formulating policies to achieve it. Progressives may view governance and the human condition from a rationalistic standpoint, while conservatives usually refer to the tried-and-true tactics of history to support their claims.

Internationally, conservative politics are not monolithic. Some political scholars argue that conservatives in Europe are more progressive than those in the United States. Conservatives may also disagree with their counterparts in other countries. For instance, conservatives in France may not agree with the pro-establishment political parties in Iran. Conservatives can also be at odds within nation-state borders. Although conservatives generally support the Republican Party in the United States, traditional conservatives battle with the modern neo-conservatives on certain issues.

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Discuss this Article

Drentel
Post 3

Sporkasia - I agree that it's hard to narrow down all of a person's political views and label them conservative or liberal. However, I think the term fiscal conservative is more concentrated and more telling of a politician's or any person's views.

Sporkasia
Post 2

I think a term such as conservative politics is too simplistic to cover all the areas of our political system. Plus, even though there are some traditional conservative views, the word conservative is still relative.

From a personal standpoint, I am conservative in some of my political views and quite liberal in others.

Animandel
Post 1

It bothers me when I hear people speak of conservative politics as if it is a dirty term. While I don't label myself politically, I am in favor of traditional values such as the ones my parents were raised with. They passed those same values along to me.

While I don't identify with a political group, I agree with many of the ideas expressed by conservative political groups.

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