Although they find common ground on many issues, there are sharp differences between Eastern and Western conservatives. Jacob Weisberg of Slate suggests that Eastern conservatives are more moderate than Western conservatives, and that they are less inclined to take conservative social positions than their counterparts. These conservatives, he says, are inclined to accept the idea of a welfare state. Weisberg suggests that Western conservatives, on the other hand, dislike government, tend to be hawkish and heavily support individual liberties.
Western conservatism, says Weisberg, is opposed to any type of governmental expansion and is epitomized by the Tea Party. It opposes governmental interference in the markets, in healthcare, and in the financial sector. Its main goals are to ensure that governments remain limited and to preserve liberty.
This libertarian bent of Western conservatives can be seen in the legislative proposals like that of U.S. Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado. Gardner plans to co-sponsor a bill that will allow businesses selling marijuana to receive tax credits or deductions. Western conservatives like Dean Heller of Nevada, have also fought back against governmental interference, by helping to secure higher tax refunds for parents with children.
Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have spoken out in favor of a limited government by supporting tax reform and opposing the overregulation of financial institutions.
Western conservatives are more likely than Eastern conservatives to embrace social conservative principles, including religious beliefs. Many, for instance, support George Washington’s argument that “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected”.
Conservatives from Eastern States are less inclined to support such ideas. Often, Eastern conservatives find more in common with Democrats than their Western Counterparts. Maine’s Susan Collins, for instance, takes pride in being known as a moderate and is considered a swing vote on tax reform. She has also opposed the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu has supported initiatives such as tax reform, but he is also focused on social reform, such as finding solutions to America’s opioid crisis. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s Chris Christie has denied being terribly conservative and has labeled himself a moderate. While he has supported conservative policies such as tax reform, he also supported government-run education programs that more libertarian conservatives would oppose.
While conservatives on the East and West typically agree on economics, the divide between them springs from different beliefs on the role of government.
Author: Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.