Noam Chomsky doesn't think conservatives exist. The majority of people who call themselves conservative (like our friends on Fox News) are really just reactionaries who are thinly-if-at-all-veiled homophobes, racists and demagogues. In defining my conservatism as I did yesterday, I started an exercise in self-exploration unlike one I've ever performed. You see, I'm not very good at explaining the myriad ideas running around in my head. In this attempt to put words on the screen, I'm taking the time to really think about who I am and what I believe in. Bear with me. The conservative response to modernity is to embrace it, but to embrace it critically. — Roger Scruton I did a Google search for conservative issues, because I don't generally think of my conservatism in terms of particular topics; it pervades everything. But I found a list of ten conservative issues, some of which I care about, some of which I don't, and switched in a couple that weren't there. Here we go. Illegal immigration I'm against illegal immigration, but come on, who isn't? The question isn't whether immigrants should come into this country illegally. The question is: what should be done with immigrants when they arrive? My problem isn't with immigrants, per se, it's with the problematic and varying treatment of immigrants from different countries. Haitians are turned away. Cubans are lauded with open arms. Mexicans are welcome just so long as they do the work other groups don't want to do (side note: why is there so much pride in that?). And all the while, we're ignoring the causes of these waves: poor education, health, or economic opportunity in the country of origin. The biggest two reasons I find illegal immigration to be a serious problem: 1) the disparities in the treatment of immigrants from different countries/regimes. My flip answer (said jokingly to my mother, who is an immigrant)? If all can't, then none will! 2) I don't like the idea of my tax money paying for the healthcare and education of people who aren't contributing to society-at-large — if they're doing jobs that other people don't want to do, for wages other people won't take, then they're only benefitting their employers. War on terrorism You can't fight terrorism. Did anyone see The Kingdom? It was uneven, and pretty much a shoot-em-up/blow-stuff-up flick, but it made a good point toward the end. Terrorism is ideology. Ideology (on both 'our' side and 'theirs') spreads from grandparent to grandchild, from cousin to cousin, from husband to wife, etc. I think it's a little ridiculous to claim we're in a war on terrorism, but at the same time, I think eschewing the war doesn't make one a liberal. It makes one rational. Federal spending This is probably where I'm the most 'liberal leaning.' Government spending works. While I don't particularly enjoy illegal immigrants benefiting from my tax money, any U.S. citizen is welcome to it. We share and share alike. It is the job of the government to protect and serve it's citizens; spending money on healthcare, education, public safety are all important, and will benefit all of us in the long run. Gay rights This is probably where I'm most conservative. Not in the way you think, however. I think sexual preference is a shaded gradient, and is informed by not only attraction, but also religion, values, and personal experience. I'm not going to tell you exactly where I fall on the Kinsey scale, but I will say that sexuality isn't always one thing or another. While I think I understand whence legitimately-labeled 'homophobic attitudes' arise ('legitimately-labeled' is meant to describe those people who are correctly noted as having an irrational fear of or aversion to homosexuals), I find them deplorable and unfortunate. At the same time, I take issue with those who use the term 'homophobic' in the same manner as those who use the term 'racist' too frequently. An interesting study of the construct of homophobia concluded that sometimes, the term is used to "pass implicit or explicit pejorative evaluations of individuals holding certain open and debatable value positions." And that's the key phrase: open and debatable value positions. As a person who believes in the male-female, two-parent home, I have questions about a child being raised by people in a same-sex union. In particular, I have questions about the ability of two men, or two women, to provide an adequate balance of masculine and feminine influence that so many children — particularly black children — lack today. While I don't support laws which strip individuals of rights (which is actually pretty conservative of me), I am not 100 percent comfortable with gay adoption. Abortion I would never judge a woman who chose to have an abortion. I've known a few, and not one of them has rushed off to the clinic with glee in their hearts and a spring in their step. To this day, years later, they consider what life could have been, and what it isn't. I also haven't met a woman who truly regretted it. I feel unfit to judge or decide for anyone whether or not abortion is acceptable. But something in me is really unhappy at the abortion rate in the black community. I suppose this is a liberal leaning. As Robert Frost said: "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." ____ To come: what does it matter?