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Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy and authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as monarchy, religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more extreme elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

The first established use of the term in a political context originated in 1818 with François-René de Chateaubriand during the period of Bourbon Restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution. Historically associated with right-wing politics, the term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. There is no single set of policies regarded as conservative because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus conservatives from different parts of the world—each upholding their respective traditions—may disagree on a wide range of issues. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century politician who opposed the French Revolution but supported the American Revolution, is credited as one of the main theorists of conservatism in Great Britain in the 1790s.

According to Quintin Hogg, the chairman of the British Conservative Party in 1959: "Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself". In contrast to the tradition-based definition of conservatism, some political theorists such as Corey Robin define conservatism primarily in terms of a general defense of social and economic inequality. From this perspective, conservatism is less an attempt to uphold traditional institutions as a valuing of competition itself, "a meditation on — and theoretical rendition of — the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back".

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Kathy Dunderdale 31May2011.jpg
Kathleen Mary Margaret "Kathy" Dunderdale, MHA (née Warren; born February 1952) is a Canadian politician who served as the tenth Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, from December 3, 2010, to January 24, 2014. On February 28, 2014, Dunderdale resigned as the member of the House of Assembly for the district of Virginia Waters.

Dunderdale was born and raised in Burin; before entering politics she worked in the fields of community development, communications, fisheries and social work. Her first foray into politics was as a member of the Burin town council, where she served as deputy mayor. She was also a Progressive Conservative Party (PC) candidate in the 1993 general election and served as President of the PC Party.

In the 2003 general election, Dunderdale was elected as Member of the House of Assembly (MHA) for Virginia Waters. She served in the cabinets of Danny Williams—at various times holding the portfolios of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Natural Resources—where she developed a reputation as one of the most high-profile members of Williams' cabinets. Dunderdale became premier upon the resignation of Williams and after becoming the PC leader she led the party to victory in the October 2011 election. Dunderdale was the first female premier in the province's history and the sixth woman to serve as a premier in the history of Canada.

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To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.

— Michael Oakeshott, On Being Conservative (1962)


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The United States presidential election of 1964 was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy's popularity, won 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest won by a candidate since 1820. It was the sixth-most lopsided presidential election in the history of the United States. The Republican candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, suffered from a lack of support from his own party and his far-right political positions. Johnson's campaign successfully portrayed Goldwater as being a dangerous extremist, and advocated social programs which became known as the Great Society. Johnson easily won the Presidency, carrying 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, Goldwater's unsuccessful bid influenced the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement.

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  • 1854 – the United States Republican Party is founded. The party opposed the expansion of slavery, called for free homesteads to farmers ("free soil"), and sought to modernize banking, railroads, and industry.

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