I speak here only for myself. No conservative would be so presumptuous as to speak for everyone who shares a basic conservative outlook.
The one theme I've found in conservatism -- no matter what genre -- is this: Conservatives don't trust government.
Even those governments with which we fundamentally agree.
No one can be fully trusted with power.
Whatever trust is offered to a government is offered with that great caveat Ronald Reagan had when discussing missile agreements with the Soviet Union: "Trust, but verify."
The principle of subsidiarity
is the underpinning of this conservative's viewpoint.
It's a principle that says, basically, that the government shouldn't do what the private sector can do; and that a higher level government shouldn't do what a lower level of government can do.
This runs against the contemporary liberal grain that the central government can do it all.
It can't, certainly not effectively and well.
Contemporary liberalism places centralized government power on an altar to be worshipped.
One question: Where do you go when the centralized power screws up?
(If you don't think centralized power can't screw up, look at the Liberal Party of Canada for the example of corruption at its finest. If you don't think big power doesn't bring big corruption, look at Jack Abramoff's list of donations -- in both
U.S. political parties.)
The Founding Fathers, radicals that they were (and, quite frankly, still are), believed that rights begin with the people and responsibilities are placed upon the government.
Contemporary liberals and their socialist bedfellows believe that the government grants rights to the people.
Bottom-up governance or top-down governance. I prefer the power to remain at the bottom, with the people, not the elitists, not the government.
As Barry Goldwater once opined, "Any government big enough to give you rights is big enough to take them away."
I'd amend that to say "Any government that gives you rights can take them away."
That's why the Founding Fathers devised an elaborate system of checks and balances.
But efficient governing isn't what they had in mind.
Governing that would not jeopardize the natural rights of the people is more like it.
Have you found a socialist/contemporary liberal system that doesn't sound like a nanny-state, where big government tells you what to do?
I'll do more on this later. Time isn't exactly an easy commodity to come by these days.