What Are the Differences Between Being Conservative, Republican, and Right-Wing?

Cody Libolt
For the New Christian Intellectual
3 min readSep 3, 2019

The terms are related and sometimes used interchangeably. But they have a variety of uses that we should understand.

The broadest use of “conservative” means promoting (wanting to conserve) traditional institutions.

A theological conservative is typically someone who wants to adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith or the London Baptist Confession or similar documents.

A political conservative could mean different things depending on what nation you’re in. A conservative in England might want to move toward monarchy — or at least he might want to move toward the arrangement of power seen in England 100 years ago. A conservative in the US would want to move toward a Constitutional Republic.

For that reason, in the US, the “Republican” Party is the more “Conservative” party. But if the other party becomes radically Marxist, which it has, then people will leave that party and join the other major party. So now we have a Republican Party with a wide variety of viewpoints.

Trump is an example. His ideas would have fit in the Democratic Party during the 1990s or earlier. “Republican” only refers to the organization and group at this point. Being a Republican doesn’t mean you stand for a specific viewpoint, necessarily. But the closest thing we have to a principled definition is the Republican Party platform, available here:


The Republican Party’s stated platform is more conservative (and, in my view, more virtuous) than most Republican office holders.

You can get a good idea about what “conservative” means in the 2019 American political climate in terms of specific policies by reading this site, which I am favorable toward:


“Right wing” is a term roughly synonymous with conservative. It arose during the French Revolution. It referred to the seating arrangements in the French Parliament. The right wing supported the old monarchy.

Here is a fair summary from Wikipedia:

“Right-wing politics holds that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition.”

People use “right wing” to refer to any number of things. They might emphasize free markets as being a “right wing” idea. But they might also call Hitler and fascists “right wing” because they were perceived as being pro-business. So it is a muddled term.

Typically, people use “right wing” as an insult today. They use it to characterize people like myself (liberty-minded, constitutional conservatives) as being somehow similar to Hitler, which is projection.

These articles were helpful to me: