Semantics and Conservatives

Fighting over a label like "conservative" can be silly and pointless. Fighting over core principles and arguments in a political tradition - especially one I think has been highjacked by one extremist faction - is not. Conservatism has become a very broad church, and I think it's a tribute to its intellectual vitality that it contains so many different varieties today. Why cannot we all be called conservatives of different stripes? Here's a distinction that makes some sense to me:

I personally divide the spectrum up into "Conservatives," which are all those pro-big-Government (when the government is interfering with private non-Christianist morals), pro-Christianist, pro-Bush folks, and "conservatives," who are folks like yourself and, on a lot of issues (smaller government, balanced budget, strong military, government out of my personal life) me. Just how I personally keep tabs, is all. Ponnuru is a Conservative; you are a conservative. Mark Levin is a Conservative; George Will is (mostly) a conservative.

In my next book, I specifically foreswear any ambition to describe the politics I favor as the only legitimate form of conservatism. I merely argue that it is one legitimate form. The most coherent and persuasive one, to my mind. But not the only one.