As I write this article, we are at the end of a long, contentious election, still being contested. I want to remind my conservative friends why they need to return to the center-right and honor the meaning of conservatism as part of the little “d” democratic process. As members of the loyal opposition conservative centrists offer a counter-weight that could provide remedies to reckless excesses. Conservatives can provide remedies out of caution and parsimony, not resentment. They are not proxies for any cult of personality. Conservatives need to restore their parties not because of a desire for power but because they wish the best for our nation, its people, and future. It’s time to reclaim real conservative values.

Conservatism, in accounting terms anyway, is fairly assessing liabilities and expenses when benefits are uncertain. Most sensible people are likely to be prudent with their resources and conserve them in the face of change. When we need a correction of course, we know that change is inevitable. There are always unexpected events like this pandemic that change the calculus for a people. What seemed a risk before might benefit us in the long run — spending money on education for the future, spending to repair our infrastructure, investing in health care or prepare us for natural disasters. For example, whether individuals feel that climate change is caused by human action or part of a natural cycle, upheaval is here, nonetheless. The proof of climate change is in the record books, no matter the cause. It’s time to act, prepare, conserve. It is time to clarify conservatism, not as a partisan matter, but one for balance, to get back to the center so the center can hold all of us, unified as a nation. Conservatism can mean conserving clean water and air, conserving soil so it can produce healthier crops and livestock, limiting waste of all kinds. It isn’t about the quick profit but the long haul.

S. E. Gilman, who lives in Monroe Township, has worked in social services, publishing, at booksellers, in kitchens, and academia. She has taught writing and literacy education and tutoring in universities, community settings, at a correctional institution, and on Native reservations.

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