It All Starts with Dictionary Abuse
No. In fact, I think this is another one of those questions that distinguishes left from right. You could say that conservatism is simply the conservation of common sense, of time-rested general agreement about the Way Things Are and how to order our lives around that (in other words, the world, AKA reality, comes first, not our ideas, dreams, and fantasies).
The leftist would respond, "maybe, but a great deal of oppression and stupidity also get imported along with the good, so there is no intrinsic reason to defer to the past. We can always do better."
People don't generally think too deeply about common sense, which is one reason why it can be difficult to defend when challenged, as in "who are you to say that marriage must be limited to members of the opposite sex?"
That's not an honest question; rather, it is simply the aggressive abandonment of common sense. We know this, because one might just as well ask, "why limit marriage to just two people, or to human beings, or to living things? Why do you arbitrarily exclude robots, or sheep, or inflatable partners?" Once you go down that path, you've abandoned common sense, so there's no end to it.
This book I'm working on, The Common Mind, goes to this question of common sense. It's actually a collection of essays, each devoted to a thinker who championed the common sense of Christian humanism in the face of the hostile and regressive forces that are always arrayed against it, in every age.
Yeah, it's always been this way, and always will be. There are always miserable souls such as Obama who want to fundamentally transform the world, and in so doing conduct a frontal assault on common sense. It's kind of hopeless, but no more hopeless than life itself. In the words of Samuel Johnson,
"It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated." At best we may give "longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be eternal." Which implies that the left will ultimately succeed in destroying the United States, just as death will succeed in taking us all, but so what? It remains for us to do the right thing for its own sake, not for some secondary gain.
It's the same with language. One of the bases of the left is its relentless attack on language, which is the vehicle of common sense. It is as if there is a conserving and integrating force in language, to go along with a dis-integrating and catabolic force. In reality, both are needed -- conservation and change -- in order to progress.
But progress does not and cannot occur by destroying the mechanism of conservation, by undermining the plain meaning of words. Thus, one could say that there is nothing quite as conservative as a dictionary; likewise, on the political plane one could say that there is nothing as conservative as the Constitution (which naturally allows for constitutional change, just as language allows for new words like duhhh!).
But this simple common sense will not do for the left. For example, the Constitution plainly forbids discrimination on the basis of race, so the left (to paraphrase Justice Scalia) is in the position of arguing that the 14th amendment actually requires what it expressly forbids. In order to accept the argument, one must simply abandon common sense.
In the chapter on Chesterton, I was reminded of his comment to the effect that most all philosophy since Aquinas requires us to accept one insane premise. Once we have done so, the rest of the insanity follows with ineluctable logic. It makes it easy, because one doesn't have the burden of remembering dozens of lies. Rather, so long as one assimilates the first, the rest flows along from entailment to entailment. Which Adam learned the hard way.
"Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality" (Chesterton). Which is interesting right there, because why not? If there is a common reality and a common human nature, then why can't we all agree on a common philosophy?
One reason why Aquinas' philosophy is so attractive is that it comports with common sense. It is "the philosophy of sanity since it is integrative, universal, sensible, and reiterative of the common understanding of experience rooted in the senses and refined by reason." And what is sanity? It is simply the registration of objective reality, "the universal wholeness that connects man and God, matter and mind, heart and soul."
But again, most modern philosophies begin with "a particular point of view demanding the sacrifice" of sanity. In short, a man must "believe something that no normal man would believe," if it were expressed in a simple and straightforward manner. Which is precisely why leftism must always lie about itself, and why it must so relentlessly abuse the poor dictionary.
Thus, modern philosophies reflect and assist "the breakdown of reality, the disintegration of belief and the fragmentation of society."
So yes, liberalism is liberating, but for whom? For the abnormal, the insane, the lacking in common sense, the envious, the angry, the auto-victimized, the sexually confused, the tenured. For the rest of us it is mental slavery, slavery being a symptom of the absence of the rule of natural reason, and denial of any appeal to the court of common sense.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but abuse of words can really cause an owie to the soul.