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Do Conservatives Oppose Change?

If you Google “what is conservatism?” this is the definition you will receive: “Commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation.”

This is but one more illustration of the lack of objectivity wherever the Left is in control.

The idea that conservatism means, by definition, “opposition to change or innovation” is nothing more than how liberals and leftists see conservatism. Why? Because the farther left you go, the greater the commitment to change and innovation. “Change” and “Innovation” are left-wing gods. That is why, for example, the mantra of the Barack Obama campaign and presidency was “hope and change.”

Because the Left is so committed to change (for its own sake), people on the Left assume that anyone who opposes leftism opposes all “change and innovation.” 

Unfortunately, the Left’s misapprehension of conservatism is almost equaled by conservatives’ inability to define the term. For that reason, just as I recently defined another widely used term—”Judeo-Christian values”—I think it important to do the same for conservatism.

Conservatives conserve.

If you want a good definition of conservatism, don’t Google “conservatism.” Google “conserve.” You will find this definition: “To protect from loss or harm; preserve.”

The first and most important characteristic of conservatism is that it conserves what is best from the past.

Conservatives have no issue with change or innovation—when warranted or harmless. The American Revolution, which conservatives seek to preserve, ushered in a radically innovative blueprint for liberty and self-government. Our problem is with jettisoning past greatness and replacing it with mediocrity—which is precisely what has been done for at least a century. 

What could be more noble, uplifting, beneficial, or altruistic than giving every generation the best humans have ever created? A generation that deprives the next generation of Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Da Vinci is committing a combination of child neglect and civilizational suicide.

Why, then, isn’t everyone—at least as regards conserving the best of the past—a conservative? 

Here is why:

Since so few people in any generation can equal, let alone excel, the greatest of the past, conserving the past does not allow almost anyone living at the present time to shine.

Therefore, if I can’t compose great tonal music, I won’t even bother trying. I might shine, however, if I write “atonal” music. 

If I can’t paint like a great classical artist, I will jettison all rules of art. I’ll throw paint onto a canvas or place a crucifix in a jar of my urine and call such things “art”—and demand that you, too, jettison all standards.

If I can’t hope to match Shakespeare, I will dismiss Shakespeare as just another Dead White Male and replace him with living nonwhite females who possess exponentially less talent.

The same holds true for teachers. Many of them are bored at the thought of teaching Shakespeare every year. So, they, too, opt for “change” and “innovation” over excellence—but thereby deprive their students of the best.

Likewise in the moral sphere. Why would I teach the moral roots of our society—the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Aristotle, the American Constitution, the Founders? That would mean I have nothing particularly important to say regarding morality and society. Again, I won’t shine. So, I will ignore or even reject those moral codes and devise a new moral system. 

That’s what Karl Marx did quite consciously—which is why he hated Christianity and Judaism. Only if he could overthrow Bible- and God-based morality could his new morality be taken seriously. So, he replaced God with man, and he replaced good and evil with rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed. Today we are witnessing another rejection of God- and Bible-based morality, replacing the moral categories of good and evil with racial categories—white and black.

And talk about innovation. What could be more innovative than “men give birth”? While conservatives are boringly conserving the fact that men are men, women are women, and one cannot become the other, the believers in change and innovation insist that sex/gender is completely subjective.

A couple of weeks ago, Time magazine inadvertently gave the game away.

In the introduction to its 100th-anniversary issue, the CEO and editor of Time described the purpose of the magazine.

You probably think they would write something like, “to report the news as truthfully as possible.” But you would be completely wrong.

Here is what the CEO and editor wrote: “As we begin our second century, that spirit of innovation and disruption inspires us every day.”

“Innovation and disruption.” There you have it. 

Reporting news as truthfully as possible is not just boring. It is worse than that. It is conservative.

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About Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest books include The Rational Passover Haggadah and The Rational Bible, a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, "No Safe Spaces," is now available on DVD and BluRay. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

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