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Conservatism - Essay on Political Science

4 pages
1048 words
Wesleyan University
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Conservatism is a doctrine that emphasizes the values of traditional institutions and practices. This philosophy prefers the use of historically inherited beliefs as opposed to the adoption of abstract policies. In the 1960's to the 1980's there was a revolution of conservative movements resulting from the cold war, politics and the state of degradation of social values. This issue is therefore debated in the articles that are to be discussed in this essay from a political, social, and economic approach. It is important to note that at the time that the readings were conceived, the pressing issue was for the liberation of the American people from the federal government's disillusioned complete power.

Barry Goldwater's campaign for the presidency in 1964 was one filled with ideas of conservatism taken with a radical approach. Even as a senator, his beliefs were well known considering he had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and had openly aired out his opinions on how the cold war needed to be tackled using extreme measures. The highlight of Goldwater's acceptance speech at the Republican national convention was to emphasize on his laid out plan to secure the freedom of Americans by using a conservative approach. The senator's idea of conservatism was the use of extreme measures, hence his famous saying, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Senator Goldwater had a dream of liberalization of the American people by ending street violence, curbing corruption in government offices, creating a stable economy, and elimination of the illusion of absolute power by the national government. He had a firm conviction that the only way to accomplish these objectives was to use the proven methods and that although some people were quick to jump into emerging techniques, the old ones were still valuable. His preferred approach for restoration of liberty which had been allegedly deprived of the people by the reigning administration was to look back into the past and highlight the struggles. Senator Goldwater may have lost the presidential campaign, but his conservatism won the hearts of many.

Religion has been faced with many challenges from the dynamic society, and the best way for Christians to remain in pursuit of their culture is by conservatism. Jerry Falwell used a conservative approach to encourage Christians in America to unite in quest of morality. The preacher from his speech titled Listen America in 1980 aimed at criticizing the society and Supreme Court for legalizing abortion, encouraging homosexuality, prohibiting prayer in public schools, and protecting pornography. The conservative idea was to seek the superior provisions of the constitution which declare that the entitlement to freedom and liberty has to be done in pursuit of happiness through the God who created all men equal. Falwell acknowledges that he holds no control over anyone but only can influence people to find a path for high moral grounds. The conservatism in Falwells point of view was to be used to return America to the basics and values of Biblical morality, responsibility, and back to patriotism.

Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 essay, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" exhibits aspects of social conservatism. First of all, the author, who is attending the derby as a photographer for his magazine seems to try his best to fit in with the locals of the area. At the Hertz desk where the author had gone in to pick his rental car which he did not find reserved- he asks the attendant where the people from Texas were staying. This is an indication of wanting to feel at home with people practicing a similar culture. He asks the young man if he wanted to work for Playboy and the response elicits surprise, and he even jumps back to indicate intolerance the society has to such a job. Thompson gives a narration of the legendary horse race as one full of pink faces with a stylish Southern sag and fashion sense which paid respect to old Ivy styles, button-down collars, and seersucker coats. The people here seemed to stick to old traditions to the extent that when Steadman asked Thompson where he could find the Kentucky colonels the answer was plain simple, "They'll usually have large brown whiskey stains on the front of their suits."

The three readings reviewed all have elements of conservatism, but they are expressed in different manners. For instance, the approach by both Goldwater and Falwell are political due to the speeches aimed at sensitizing the public. The two also point to restoring freedom of the American people, but the approach to achieve this seems to be different. Whereas Goldwater believes in extremism, Falwell only aims at divulging knowledge to his congregation so that they may follow his influence at their own will. This showcases Goldwater's technique as being somehow dictatorial in implementation. Thompson's essay is unique because it uses a real-life event to highlight social conservatism. Unlike the first two articles, the one on Kentucky Derby is informative as opposed to aiming at influencing the people.

The readings have changed my mind when it comes to embracing the emerging trends such as technology. In my opinion, it is important to always move with the generations but now based on the articles; I agree that it is crucial to keep the identity of American people. As much as it is tempting to indulge in activities viewed classy by the society, the morality and use of the human instinct are essential. The issues present in the readings, especially the speeches by Goldwater and Falwell are still relevant today. This is evident in the issues of power struggles, unemployment, immorality, and current laws on equality. By adoption of conservative principles, I hope to solve the problem of National security in the USA. This involves transparency to the people and getting rid of any measures that affect the privacy of the Americans. For instance, unwarranted spying on citizens through the internet and other means have to be stopped as a way of restoring the freedom of the people.



Goldwater, B. M. (1964) Extremism in the Defense of Liberty: The Republican National Convention Acceptance Address. Conservatism in America since 1930: A Reader, 238-46.

Falwell, J. (1980). Listen. America, 150.Thompson, H. S., (1970). The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved. Scanlans Monthly 1(4).

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