Jonah Goldberg defines conservatism:

“We need more rocks in the river,” my dad explained. What he meant was that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current. I loved the literary quality of the expression “more rocks in the river,” even though the imagery doesn’t quite convey what my dad really believed. Dad was a conservative, properly understood. By that I mean he didn’t think conservatism was merely an act of passive and futile defiance against what Shakespeare called “devouring time.” Unlike human institutions, the rocks do not fight the devouring river of time, it just seems like they do. My dad believed that conservatism was an affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will. In the cacophony of perpetual change, the conservative selects the notes worth savoring and repeats them for others to hear and, hopefully, appreciate.

It's a fresh metaphor, and revealingly wrong, in my view.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.