conservative | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

The term conservative refers to an ideological inclination to preserve the traditional or current order.

Contrast with conservative court decisions

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that emphasizes the importance of preserving traditional values, institutions, and practices and is characterized by opposition to radical changes and reforms. This philosophy is typically associated with the political right, but there are variations of conservative thought across the political spectrum.

The core tenets of conservatism include respect for traditional institutions, such as the family, church, and government; a belief in the importance of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and hard work; and a commitment to preserving individual freedom and limiting the power of the state.

Conservatives often argue for a limited government, believing that government should only play a role in areas where the private sector cannot adequately address societal problems. They tend to support free market capitalism, individual rights, and a strong national defense.

Critics of conservatism argue that it can lead to resistance to progress and social change and that it can sometimes result in a lack of concern for the disadvantaged or marginalized in society. They also point out that conservative policies may exacerbate income inequality and lead to a lack of investment in important public services, such as education and healthcare.

In the context of criminal justice, conservative views tend to prioritize law and order and a tough-on-crime approach. They advocate for harsh punishments for criminals, including mandatory minimum sentences, and oppose efforts to reform the criminal justice system. They also tend to support the death penalty and have traditionally been skeptical of efforts to decriminalize drug offenses.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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