What is a Conservative?

Mitt Romney's march toward the Republican nomination has provoked a lively conversation about what it means to be a conservative in America today. TIME asked several voices of--and experts on--the right to ponder the question. A sampling:

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Purge the Party Now; Win in 2016


The internecine fights we are witnessing are about a conservative movement starting to separate itself again from the Republican Party. Unfortunately, neither of the front runners has legitimate conservative integrity to claim the banner of conservative movement leader, but they will both try. Mitt Romney will hold the banner for conservatives within the GOP, and Newt Gingrich will hold the banner of the traditional alliance of conservatives without.

Conservatives will probably need one more election cycle either fighting an incumbent Republican President or starting over in 2016 with a fresh, clean...

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