In the Western world awash in left-liberals with their nanny-state interference in every nook and cranny of our lives, it becomes mandatory that I proclaim, “I am a conservative.” And I accept that my historical duty, as William F. Buckley so aptly put it, is “to stand athwart history and yell ‘Stop’.”

So to do what I can do to further the conservative cause—and impede the so-called progressive juggernaut—I have joined the boards of my constituencies: provincially, the Wildrose Calgary-Currie riding and federally, the Conservative Calgary-Centre riding. At a recent board meeting, a young member asked plaintively, “What does it mean to be a conservative?” as only a millennial could do it. In other words, “Look at poor little me, trying so hard to understand what the differences are between Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers. And aren’t all you older people so grateful that I’ve chosen to join your board, even though I haven’t a clue why I did, because it’s common knowledge that conservative parties are desperately seeking young people.”

My first thought, uncharitable as it is, was, “Maybe for the cachet imparted by the line on your resume listing you as a member of the board of a grown-up group like a political party.” But really, why would you allow your name to stand for election—and make a speech about why you should be elected!—at the Annual General Meeting only the month before if you hadn’t a clue what you were joining? Get a grip, lad. Do some research, like Googling, “What is a conservative?” for starters. But that really wasn’t the point. The point was to show the rest of us how absolutely earnest and lovely he was to take our cause so seriously. What a virtue-signalling millennial he is!

His virtue-signalling aside, I think it important that conservatives define conservatism rather than passively let the progressives define it for the citizens and media. (Just not at a board meeting whose main purpose is to build a strong association that succeeds in getting the Conservative candidate elected next time.) I am a conservative because:

  • I respect the individual’s liberty.
  • I respect the family as the foundation of society.
  • I support smaller government with the resultant lower taxes.
  • I take personal responsibility for my actions.
  • I am fiscally responsible personally and vote for fiscally responsible governments.

Conservatives see the role of government as protecting the freedom necessary for citizens to pursue their own goals, thus empowering the individual to solve his/her own problems; left-liberals see the role of government as taking action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all—put simply, conservatives want government to get out of the way, whereas left-liberals want government interfering in every aspect of citizens’ lives. Equal opportunity is a natural consequence of a free marketplace, in my opinion, but equality for all leads us into the godly realm. We are human and, while our reach should exceed our grasp, we can only strive for a society where law and order, defended by a strong military, create the conditions for humans of all stripes and sizes to flourish. And our Western democracies have, in stark contrast to societies controlled by socialist/communist governments or tyrants of various dictatorial hues.

Conservatives see that the free-market system, competitive capitalism and private enterprise have led to the freest society and the highest standard of living for the most people in the history of humankind. Conservatives know that the private sector is the creator of jobs and wealth and so vote for governments that let the private sector do its job. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, left-liberals look to governments to solve all problems, piling regulations on regulations—a good example is the Trudeau government adding another layer on the regulatory assessments for pipelines, projects that are already heavily regulated—that lead to more public-sector employees and higher taxes to pay their salaries. Put simply, the private sector creates and the public sector spends.

Conservatives believe in the old virtues, the time-tested virtues of honour, fortitude, loyalty and compassion lived every day in everyday life—and substitute striving for virtue for virtue-signalling. And we do not want to be victims; if fact, we are horrified at casting ourselves as victims, preferring to try to figure out how to overcome the obstacle or problem. In stark contrast, our left-liberal culture is awash in victims wallowing in their victimhood; in fact, they gleefully shriek when they can identify some circumstance that lets them qualify as a victim. Then they whine and moan for a handout from the government to assuage their shortcomings. Conservatives, on the other hand, would rather help real victims than parade their neediness in the public square.

A foundational difference between conservatives and left-liberals is we acknowledge the unpleasant truths of being human and work with the crooked timber of humanity, whereas left-liberals deny it or think government can fix it all. For me, the former offers hope and challenge; the latter, Big Brother and despair. So, my young colleague, choose wisely—as a person and as a citizen.