Am I a conservative?

Am I a conservative? February 7, 2020


Sen. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles, in 1964
Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater in 1964. Reagan was giving a speech for the Goldwater campaign at the International Hotel in Los Angeles.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)


Since I’m not a fan of Mr. Donald J. Trump and since I have recently posted and will shortly post some items that have infuriated his partisans, I think it important to offer some context for my position:


I’ve been repeatedly denounced as a liberal because of my disinclination to bow the knee to Mr. Trump.  One of my personal favorites came from a poster on my Facebook page, who declared how “sad” it is that I’m “a leftist liberal who hates the Constitution of the United States.”


The irony is that one important set of my reservations (I’m being gentle) about Mr. Trump comes precisely from my being a conservative with strong libertarian leanings who loves the U.S. Constitution.


Can I illustrate my conservative bona fides?  Indeed, I can.


I’ve done it before.  But I think it’s probably time to do it again.


My parents voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  My late brother and I, however, supported the conservative candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), and, when my brother went to cast his vote, he took me into the polling booth where, as a preteen, I literally pulled the lever for the author of The Conscience of a Conservative.


As a resident of California, I voted for Ronald Reagan every time he ran for governor or for president.


I’ve subscribed to National Review since I was thirteen years old, with interruptions only when I was living overseas (e.g., for part of my mission in Switzerland).


I was a charter subscriber to the Weekly Standard, and I subscribed to it until its unfortunate recent demise.


I was a charter subscriber to The American Spectator, back when it was called The Alternative.


I watched Fox News from the first day it came on, although my enthusiasm for it has waned since large sectors of it have effectively become wholly owned divisions of Trump Minitrue.


I used to really enjoy Rush Limbaugh when my work schedule permitted me to listen.  He was, among other things, very, very funny, and I don’t believe that I ever heard him say anything that was racist.  I’m sorry that he now had advanced lung cancer.  But I haven’t listened to him in years, since he became pretty much a full-time defender of Donald Trump.  (I never really could abide the shrill partisanship of Sean Hannity, and I turn the channel whenever I see his face.)


I was a charter subscriber to First Things, and I still subscribe to it.


I even went through an intense Ayn Rand phase when I was in my late teens.  I read everything she’d published, including not just her novels but her non-fiction works.


I participated in two summer programs of the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, one before my mission (at Stanford’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace) and one just after (at St. Thomas Aquinas College).


When William F. Buckley Jr. came to speak at BYU during my undergraduate studies here, I was one of those who picked him up at the Salt Lake Airport.  (I had corresponded with him just slightly during my mission.)


I’ve spoken at least four times at the huge annual libertarian FreedomFest conference.


I was a member of the Republican Party from the first moment I could vote until the night that Donald Trump, whom I don’t regard as a conservative, accepted the Party’s presidential nomination.


The first thing I ever published beyond student periodicals, I think, was an essay in the Freeman, a magazine issued by the conservative/libertarian Foundation for Economic Education.


As the winner of a national essay prize on the free market, I participated (along with such luminaries as F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, James Buchanan, Murray Rothbard, and John Chamberlain, whom anybody familiar with conservative/libertarian economics will immediately recognize) in the 1976 annual meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, which was held at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.  I seriously considered going into economics myself.  (My choice for graduate school would definitely have been the University of Chicago.)


Although I liked Senator Bob Bennett very much personally and was shocked at the shoddy way in which the Utah Republican convention treated him in 2010, a friend and I had a lunch with Mike Lee at Provo’s Brick Oven restaurant during which my friend endeavored to persuade him to run for the Senate.


And, to top it all off, I’ve had dinner with Rand Paul.


And so on and so forth.


I would appreciate it if certain Trumpists out there would stop calling me a “libtard” and “a leftist liberal who hates the Constitution of the United States.”


By the way, I sometimes carry a pocket edition of the Constitution with me, to read while I’m waiting for appointments.  I’m a deeply believing federalist who sometimes wonders if more than fifty of us remain in the United States.


A leftist?





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