While listening to The Michael Medved Show the other day Medved played a soundbite from famous actor Robert Redford. Redford opined--and I'm paraphrasing--that change was good, accepting change was open-minded, and opposing change was narrow-minded. He was implying that liberals are enlightened for embracing change and conservatives are backwards for not.
Since I heard Redford's remark I've been pondering it, and I think he did hit on a key difference between liberals and conservatives.
Liberals are infatuated with change. You could even say they worship it. This can be seen in Obama's campaign slogan of "Hope and Change". Liberals adore Obama in large part because he promised to "fundamentally transform", i.e. change, America. Liberals accept, as a matter of faith, that change is always good and progressive, therefore they look at conservatives as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals for so often opposing change. But that is where conservatives differ from liberals.
Conservative, in fact, do NOT oppose change, certainly not change in and of itself. But unlike liberals, we don't worship change and don't adhere to the dogma that change is always good. A faithful and loving husband who starts cheating on and abusing his wife has certainly changed, but not for the better. Conservative keep that example, or a variation of it, in mind when people began talking about changing things, especially changing what Ann Coulter called the "load bearing walls" of moral values.
When change is proposed conservatives usually respond skeptically. We ask probing questions about the motives of the proponents of change. We ask probing questions about the possible unintended consequences of the proposed change and, if seeing no benefit from the change that justifies risking the unintended consequences, we will usually oppose the change. That doesn't mean, however, that we oppose solving the problem(s) the change was meant to address. On the contrary, after rejecting the originally proposed change, we'll often offer our own version, one that is usually less sweeping in scope than the original.
Conservatives aren't bigoted or narrow-minded. Our skepticism about change is rooted in the healthy and venerable desire to preserve what's best in our civilization, for the good of all. So, conservatives accept change, but only after thoroughly vetting it, or at least trying very hard to. We don't mindlessly embrace change out of the false belief that all change is good. Unlike as with liberals, change is not our god. Maybe one day Robert Redford will understand that.