When learning about conservative politics, it's best to start with the basics. What does the word "conservative" mean when it's applied to politics? What's the best way to describe conservative politics for beginners?
A quote from Ronald Reagan sums up the thinking of many political conservatives: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
Political conservatives believe that the individual, not the government, is responsible for their personal growth, and thus, they emphasize the responsibility of the individual for their own actions.
They support a strong national defense to protect the country, because when the country is protected and secure, individuals can be free to work towards their personal goals and solve their own problems.
The government, in the mind of a political conservative, should be limited in scope and should not infringe on the personal liberties of people. Governmental power should be centered more in local and state governments, not in the federal government.
Conservatives believe in a free market system, which relies on producing a supply to meet a demand. If the free market system is left alone, according to conservatives, the economy can grow and thrive. They also tend to stress low taxes, believing that a high tax rate stifles the growth of a free market economy.
Conservatives trust that people can solve their own problems and need only limited help from the government. They tend to believe that government programs, while they may be necessary in the short-term, tend to encourage dependency on the government and not self-reliance. They believe in the role of private charity and private organizations, such as churches, to give help to people who need it.
Conservatives are also known for stressing the US Constitution as the starting framework for creating, passing, and interpreting laws. They often ask the question, "What was the original intent of the Founding Fathers?"
"Traditional American values" are a hallmark of political conservatism. These include an emphasis on the "traditional family", with a mother, father, and children; "traditional marriage", consisting of a husband and wife; an emphasis on American accomplishments and successes, and other similar values. Some religious conservatives refer to America as a "Christian nation", and stress the need for Christian morality in the United States.
In American politics, conservatism is mostly associated with the Republican Party. Former President Ronald Reagan is perhaps the most well-known name in conservative politics. More recent conservative politicians include former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Texas senator Ted Cruz, and Florida senator Marco Rubio. Other labels for conservative politicians include "red staters" and "right-wingers".
Other prominent conservatives include the late William F. Buckley, founder of the conservative periodical National Review, and Rush Limbaugh, host of a popular radio talk show. The Fox News Network, founded in 1996, hosts several conservative-leaning programs with personalities such as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
For people who want a overview of conservative politics for beginners, these facts and principles are a good place to start their study.