Look Mom, A Conservative!
Here is my question: How is everyone my age not a conservative? I speak of those thirty-five or so years old, somewhat established (if lucky), and long since washed-up on the rocky shore of reality. I speak not of the beatific many, still in the liquid embrace of Mother Gaia, wholly unaware that the waves they ride do eventually meet the shore. I also speak, more specifically, of those my own age in my own geographical area, New England, as well as the general northeastern United States. What better place to learn, first hand, the constant shortcomings and dangerous experiments of liberalism?
I suppose I can answer my own question. My generation somewhat justly equates conservatism with Republicanism -- and Republicanism with Evangelical Christianity. (It is no secret that The Cane Ridge Revival does not have many admirers along the streets of Andover nor the coffeehouse-lined hills of Providence.) However, I still expect more from my fellow Gen X/Y-ers than to adhere to such a narrow 1970's-inspired Moral Majority "Christian right" view of conservatism. Are we not, allegedly, the generation of information? The last best chance against the evils of ignorance and oppression?
"Conservatism is true." That's a line of George Will's I often quote. Simple. Concise. Didactic. Conservatism is not about holding an ideology and then trying to mold the world around you to fit it; we can leave that to liberals and school boards. What conservatism is (and why it should attract young people who have entered the arena of personal responsibility), is the application of time-tested principles. Now let me stop anyone here who feels the intellectual urge to strike out against me with the sword of accused fallacy. This is not an "argument from antiquity", the term I used just now was "time-tested." Conservatism is not Traditional Chinese Medicine and lower taxes are not the fiscal equivalent of powdered rhino horn, taken in suspension to excite one's financial libido.
Conservatism is freedom. And who loves freedom more than the young? The freedom to dance and sing and roam the countryside with a van full of your smelly friends.The rub is that liberalism had cornered the market on selling the line that they are the spring from which all freedoms originate. (Irony is often sown but never reaped by a liberal.) Libertarianism (that stripped-down, easily relatable cousin to conservatism) has made some recent headway into the fields of the iPhone masses only to be hijacked by Ron Paul supporters and other such future cult members.
Conservatism is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. We'll let the limiting of personal beliefs be handled by the real experts: the ACLU, the SPLC, and your local Democrat. Built into that freedom of religion is the freedom to have no religion at all. Shouldn't that attract us young heathens? I was raised Catholic (as one might imagine from my surname) but I no longer practice. People of my age must remove the notion that in order to support pragmatic positions on the right that they are aligning themselves with a greater cause of Abrahamic control. I am aware that I am in the current minority, as a secular conservative, but to that I say, what does it matter? Liberals infringe on others rights, true conservatives do not. Sharia is not conservative. Governmental enforcement of the Ten Commandments would not be conservative. My telling someone that they cannot put a nativity scene on the town common of municipality that has a strong Christian population would also not be conservative. Did you see that? Freedom of religion, not freedom from. That nativity scene is perfectly fine as long as there is room for a menorah, or a statue of Ganesha for Pancha Ganapati -- or whatever might stem from whatever demographics that community might hold.
There is a vast act of hypocrisy being committed by my contemporaries, day in and day out. We espouse the desire for personal freedom, we demand the room for limitless individuality, and yet we shrink from the light under the door. We have been born and breed into a world of hardline liberalism. Our claustrophobic feelings, our panic at being sure that we never really had a chance, they do not stem from George W. Bush nor from Neoconservatism (a term not worth attempting to define to anyone under 40) but from the clip and sweep methodology of our liberal overlords; the cosmic barbers of freedoms. Snip. There goes small business. Snip snip. There goes the 2nd Amendment. Snip snip snip... And like Samson we are all left without our strength -- freedom.
So let me close with this cry of desperation: Young people and hipsters of the world unite! -- and realize that if you don't snap out of your iPod-induced haze that there won't be a dollar or dime left for you to buy your caramel macchiato nor a square inch of free space left for you to complain about it on.
J.W. Buckley is a writer who lives in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.