As conservatives, we are asked over and over again about our stances on different issues. As much as all conservatives wish that we could all have the exact same belief system, we do not. There are different “brands” of conservatives as I like to say. Some focus more on economics than social issues, and others focus more on the past than the ever-coming future.
This can easily be seen by attending conservative events like CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Such events bring in speakers from all over the conservative spectrum to speak on different topics that are important to them. At CPAC 2013 earlier this year, I noticed five different groups of conservatives, as compared to the six that are usually discussed. Look at this list and see where you fall on the conservative spectrum:
1. The Millennial Conservative
This brand of conservative is between the ages of 18 and 24. This is the group that usually carries the weight of the swing vote in most elections as people this age are usually just now figuring out what they believe and what party they associate themselves with. The already-identified conservatives at this age are typically in college, struggling to share the conservative message with their peers and overly-liberal college professors. The Millennial Conservative tends to be more libertarian on some social issues like gay rights or the legalization of marijuana. However, they are still very conservative in their embracing of family values, gun rights, free-market economics and business, and small government. Some of these young conservatives might be more out of touch with their religious views, but they still hold dearly to their conservative principles.
2. The Crunchy Conservative
These conservatives could be labeled as the “group of conservatives who refuse to pick a side.” These are more than likely parents of families or evangelicals who don’t want to pick a side. They adhere to the Conservative lifestyle by having family and religious values, yet they don’t advocate for the Conservative/Republican message explicitly. Rod Dreher says, “Crunchy cons” are conservatives “who stand outside the Conservative mainstream,” and tend to focus more on family-oriented, culturally conservative concepts such as being good stewards of the natural world and avoiding materialism in everyday life. Dreher describes crunchy cons as those “who embrace a countercultural, yet traditional conservative lifestyle.”
3. The Cultural Conservative
Cultural conservatives are more worried about keeping the culture of America in it’s traditional sense. Cultural Conservatism describes the culture of the nation rather than just the social issues of the nation. Justin Quinn says, “True cultural conservatives worry less about religion in government and more about using politics to prevent fundamental changes to US culture. The goal of cultural conservatives is to preserve and maintain the American way-of-life both at home and abroad.”
4. Fiscal Conservatives
Many members of this brand group will be taken from the libertarian and constitutionalist camps as well. These two conservative sects are in the Fiscal Conservative group because they desire to reduce government spending at all costs, pay off the national debt quickly, and to shrink the size of government. Fiscal Conservatives will seek to get rid of government regulation and to strive for lower taxes. This brand of conservative is one of the least controversial brands because it has nothing to do with social issues, which is one of the main reasons there are different brands of Conservatives in the first place. This brand focuses on sensibly running the government and the economy the Constitutional way.
5. Social Conservative
Social Conservatives are the most controversial members of any conservative brand. They stand firm in their moral ideology based on family values and religious traditions. For American Social Conservatives, Christianity — often Evangelical Christianity — guides almost all political positions on social issues. These Social Conservatives are labeled as “right-wingers” and hold their evangelical and family values very close to their heart. They are pro-life, pro-gun, and have a strong feelings against legalizing gay marriage. Social Conservatives are the most recognized group of conservatives on this list due to their strong ties to the Republican Party.
Hopefully you were able to identify as one of the above brands, or maybe you make up a brand of your own. Even within our own party there are differences–but this is okay. We’re all Conservatives in end, and this is why we should come together as Conservatives to do great things rather than tearing each other apart for having different views. As a college student, I identify with the Millenial Conservative brand, my parents are more closely aligned with the Social Conservatives, and other family and friends identify with the other three brands. Look around you and see if you can identify them in your own life. By understanding where other people stand in their beliefs, we can better relate to others and work together more effectively to promote conservative causes wherever we go.