The American Founding: Conservative or Radical?

Conservatives in the U.S. like to put forth the idea that those who founded the USA did so on conservative principles. Of the fundamental tenants (not dogmas or doctrines, according to Kirk) mentioned in the previous post, which are in agreement with the principles of the American Founding? A Whig in the British Parliament, Edmund Burke joined the Radical Whigs (there’s that darned r-word again) in support of the American colonists’ rights to self-government and to fight against an over-reaching monarch. And although most of his conservative writings were in response to the bloody French Revolution and the “radical” ideas of “liberty, fraternity, and equality”, conservatives promote Burke’s opinions on the American revolution and the fundamental principles of the American Founding as being, well, conservative. Let’s see how conservative those ideals were.

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It’s Official: I am not a conservative!! (Shhh! I’m a radical)

In an effort to understand conservatism, I started reading Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Kirk, via his influential book, is considered the Father of the conservative resurgence that occurred in America and Britain starting in the late 1960’s and reaching its pinnacle in the 1980’s with the Reagan administration in the U.S. and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. I was raised conservative and first became aware of politics when conservatism was at its apex, but my experiences in the world and a more nuanced study of recent (and ancient) history forced me to question some of my conservative heritage. After reading the introduction and first chapter, it is official…I have been declared a radical by the self-stated non-dogmatic conservatives.

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