Not long ago, I was asked to describe what it is that makes me a “conservative.” That’s one of those questions that always gives me pause. Not to be all “No labels!” but I generally subscribe to the notion that labels are lazy and loaded — particularly when they’re used simply to otherize.

That said, they’re also convenient and, for better or worse, the way we peg others, politically, religiously, economically, etc. So they’re rather difficult to avoid.

Of course, there’s nothing more maddening than having others apply a label to you which is incorrect. Or which means something different to them than to you. Last night, I heard a pundit whom I’d generally describe as “conservative” refer to others with whom, at least until recently, he’d largely align politically as “so-called conservatives” — ostensibly because they take issue with a candidate who shall remain unnamed.

Well, Mr. Host, I disagree. There’s no one candidate or politician who serves as my political North Star and I refuse to place party over principle.

So, I’m just going to tell y’all what I believe and you can decide whatever label you think applies. Hello. I’m Susie:

As someone who spent the first 35 or so years of her life as a liberal Democrat, the realization that I’d become a conservative was a jarring one, though it didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual progression, born of major life changes combined with prolonged exposure — for the first time — to conservative ideals expressed BY conservatives in a civil, rational fashion, rather than filtered through liberal (negative) channels. But it was still a very strange realization.

So what is it that makes me “conservative” now?  In fairness, I’m probably better characterized as a hybrid – a fiscal conservative/social moderate.
  • Socially, my primary conservative stance is that I am pro-life. Across the board (meaning I oppose abortion AND the death penalty, though the latter is tough in some cases.)
  • I am pro-law enforcement (though highly skeptical of a “police state” mentality.)
  • I am pro-military and am a bit of a hawkish dove (or doveish hawk.)  I believe in a strong military and the “peace through strength” approach.
  • I believe in hard-nosed, America first, foreign policy. But am skeptical of military interventionism — we shouldn’t go in unless/until we know what our aims are and have a solid plan to achieve them.
  • I am a Constitutionalist (not to be confused with a “Constitutional”) and believe strongly in limited government and federalism.
  • I support school choice.
  • I support limited social safety nets designed to help people get past the need for them. (Teach a man to fish, etc.)
  • I am a Christian.
  • I support religious freedom and believe that the state oughtn’t be used to compel people to violate their conscience and, e.g., participate in/provide services for ceremonies or practices which violate the tenets of their faith. Though I do support gay marriage from the legal standpoint, I understand that puts me at odds not only with much of the conservative movement but also my faith. I wrestle with that.
  • I believe in equal pay for equal work.
  • I believe that neither race, nor gender, nor orientation ought be obstacles to any particular occupation — skill set and ability should be the determining factors.
  • It’s okay for men to be men and women to be women. It’s also okay for someone to be confused about that and I don’t agree with reviling them for that, just as I don’t agree with forcing people to embrace it and tie themselves in knots (legally, verbally, or otherwise) in order to be deemed “tolerant.”
  • Live and let live – be kind, decent and charitable. Most things sort themselves out from there.
  • I support demolishing the income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax.
  • I support pro-growth economic policies — a rising tide lifts all boats.
  • I also support fiscal restraint; implementing a budget and adhering to it. Oh, and that would be zero-based budgeting, not baseline.
  • I’m agnostic regarding climate change. I don’t rule out the possibility that some of it could be anthropogenic, but I don’t agree with taking draconian measures in a misguided attempt to address it. Practical solutions – I’m a big fan of those.
  • I believe in protecting the environment and employing rational conservation measures.
  • On immigration, I support streamlining the legal immigration process to make it less cumbersome and complex, while strictly enforcing our borders and laws designed to proscribe illegal immigration.
  • I believe that character matters.
  • I believe the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution ought to be the guiding force for the way we govern ourselves and our country.
  • The Bible and the Constitution are my guideposts; the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights my Cliff’s Notes; the Golden Rule and second sentence of the Declaration of Independence my bumper stickers.