The dictionary definition of conservative is “averse to change and innovation and holding traditional values.” The word “Conservatives” was co-opted to largely refer to the evangelicals courted by Reagan in the 80s as opposed to its dictionary definition. They were largely defined by their advocacy on social issues (abortion, anti-lgbt etc.) and little else. “Traditional” means “existing in or as part of a tradition; long-established.

ConservativeTM represents a political brand, while conservative is actually a descriptor of a policy position. For example, the actual conservative position to Roe v. Wade would have been to let the president stand and potentially make some revisions to it. Perhaps not quite as far as Roberts was willing to go, but certainly not in the vein of what the majority ended up ruling. That was the status quo. But the ConservativeTM position was actually quite radical and disruptive. Using this way to differentiate does allow to keep identifying them as the broadly understood term, but also signal it may not be related to a truly conservative position.

Republicans or Conservative?

Conservative was distinguished from “Republican” which was largely defined by advocacy of fiscal responsibility, low taxes, states rights and strong on foreign policy. However this was always illogical because “strong on foreign policy” meant high military spending, which when paired with low taxes created debt which is not fiscally responsible. Reagan proved this by the record breaking debt he added, so did W. When George H Bush, confronted this, he saw that it was completely unworkable, called it “voodoo economics” and raised taxes. The party disowned him.

Today the two have basically melded into one.

Conservatism is a premodern political philosophy rooted in calls to authority, paternalism and traditional experiences. Its philosophical prescriptions are not rooted in freedom and reason. In fact, conservatism opposes the application of reason, including the a priori reasoning behind all people having inalienable natural rights. Conservatives view the application of reason and rationalism as threats to their oppressive, increasingly minoritarian and widely debunked ideas.

This was true of conservatives several hundred years ago and it’s true of today’s Republican Party.

For most of the past 40 years, conservatism has been associated with fiscal responsibility. However, the last Republican president we had added almost eight trillion dollars to the national debt.