What is Conservatism?

I am blogging from the Civitas Conservative Leadership Conference in Raleigh, NC. I am currently sitting in an inmigration panel discussion, but wanted to report a few interesting things. First things first, though — I got a hug from Michael Steele! I am sure that is not nearly as exciting to read as it was to experience, but I could not resist sharing. Okay, on to things that might be of interest to somebody other than me..

One of the topics of discussion that keeps popping up here is how conservatism is defined. Steele had an amusing illustration of how he defines conservatism. He told the joke about a conservative and a liberal walking down the street and coming upon a homeless man. The conservative hands him his business card invites him to come into his office to talk about a job, then he hands him twenty dollars. The liberal, not wanting to be outdone, points the man to the nearest welfare office and then hands him fifty dollars from the conservative’s pocket.

There are some here who feel very strongly that Giuliani cannot be a conservative because of his positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Evidently there are enough here that do not think that is the case, though that in this conservative leadership group, Giuliani came in first in the straw poll. Interestingly, Fred Thompson came in a strong second. I will have more about those results later, but thought that was interesting considering how conservative this group is. To be fair, though, Giuliani was the only candidate that spoke to this group in person and I am sure that had something to do with his strong finish.

More later, but I expect we will be hearing a lot about who can and cannot be labeled conservative this primary season.

Update: Here is an article about the speech Rudy gave in Raleigh yesterday and some blogging from the conference can be found at Red Clay Citizen.

Update II: Dean Stephens posted a great rundown of the event, with lots of pictures, here and here.

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