Hot on the heels of my controversial journal entry yesterday comes a link to this article by Patrick Buchanan, who says that the American Conservative movement has dispersed, died, and lost its battles.
Now what Buchanan means by "conservative" is different from what I always meant, but it seems to be exactly what my libertarian and liberal friends seem to mean. Buchanan identifies conservatism primarily with what he calls the "culture war." From that standpoint I cannot participate in "conservatism," because I do not view the power of government as an appropriate tool to use in the so-called "culture war." As far as that "war" is concerned, I believe I'm empowered to use only the tool of persuasive speech and writing which was so harped on in my government-provided public school education. (In Texas at the time I graduated high school, you were required to write a "persuasive essay" in order to pass the state achievement exam and graduate. Teachers agonized over our ability to perform this relatively simple task. I mention this only because some people view persuasive speech in the context I am using it as an immoral activity. If so I'd like to know why the schools insisted on trying to teach it to me.)
I grew up with a different definition of conservatism. I constantly heard my father refer to Barry Goldwater as the "founder of modern conservatism." What little reading I did on Goldwater seemed to have little to do with culture issues and more to do with the size of government. In fact, Goldwater was in favor of allowing homosexuals in the military (interesting second link), at a time when that subject was anathema to "conservatism." I note that in this article, Buchanan identifies Goldwater as more of a libertarian. I suppose that helps explain why today in addition to the lable of "conservative," I find more identification in labels like "libertarian."
BTW, in case anyone wants to flame me merely for posting this link, I hope its obvious that I don't agree with Buchanan here.