I started on the adventure that is blogging and tweeting about politics with what I thought was a whole understanding of what the conservative movement was about.  After the last nine months I have begun to question this understanding; not insomuch as I am wrong, but because I do not see the values consistently followed in what is considered the conservative movement.   This is part 1 of a series of posts which I am not sure how many parts there will be. The last post in this series will be specific as to what I am seeing since joining the “blogo-twittersphere”. I may have to make it an e-book at the end.

I understand that when you break things down to individual issues that you would have disagreements inside of the movement, but I never realized the very stark differences that are prevalent even at a philosophical political level. I also realize that because of the existing status quo that it is hard to accomplish fully conservative legislation, and some compromise is inevitable. This is my attempt to define what I see as the conservative philosophy.

To me, the cornerstone of conservatism is a limited federal government. We believe that the Constitution grants specific powers to the federal government and separates the legislative, judicial, and executive branches to create checks and balances on each other and protect the people from going past the specific powers the founders gave the federal government. This concept, Federalism, was originally the more “liberal” or “statist” of the two arguments made in the beginning. The other arguments were considered to be “Anti-Federalist” or those who supported the Articles of Confederation in philosophy.

The constitution has a list of specific enumerated powers in which the federal government has the power to promote the general welfare. (The second most abused phrase in the constitution, the worst being the commerce clause.) Anything else, based on the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution were to be left to state jurisdiction. One of the reasons I understand that it becomes nearly impossible to accomplish exactly what I believe is because if we go by this strictly as much as fifty percent or more of federal spending would be deemed unconstitutional. Which I would support, but the reality of that is so remote that it borders on impossible in the short term.

An interesting question is; if I stop there at Federalism have I found the full meaning of conservatism? The answer is no. Federalism (the Constitution as written and intended) gives a large amount of leeway in state and local power. It is altogether possible for there to be a Federalist socialist. A person who believes that the federal government should be restrained, but supports broad based socialistic ideas from the local and state levels.

Now this part of the definition of conservatism I was sure was going to be accepted widely among those who consider themselves conservative. However, I was wrong. For instance. I see a good number of conservatives that defend the federal governments involvement in the drug war outside of enforcement of border security. Don’t get me wrong I am not a libertarian in this area, but I do not see the authority to conduct the drug war at a federal level in the constitution. Therefore, as it is not enumerated in the constitution it should thus be left to the states and localities.

The last part of this series will be on my experience in twitter in detail with each of these different areas I will talk about. Next blog will be on Foreign Policy; what I have always believed conservatism stood for on that subject.

The federal government is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers… The principle, that it can exercise only the powers granted to it…is now universally admitted.” -Chief Justice John Marshall

[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. -James Madison

The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. -James Madison

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. -James Madison