My husband and I have a theory – well, it’s his theory really – that there are millions of confused conservatives walking around in America. He should know: he used to be one.

’Course that was back in college, when just about everyone is liberal. As Winton Churchill once said, “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”

If I went around espousing Winston’s argument publicly, to be sure I’d lose some friends. So I’ll put it somewhat differently: It’s not that folks over 40 who call themselves liberal don’t have a brain, it’s that they don’t know any better.

To be fair, there are plenty of “legitimate” liberals in America: people who proudly espouse left-wing ideology and live by that dogma. Fine. That’s good. That’s authentic. Most people we know, however, do not fit this description – which makes sense, since most people tend to be traditionalists.

The main reason so many people today shy away from the term conservative is because the left has butchered the word. This very vocal group in America – keep in mind that most in the media are left-wing thinkers – has taught people to think that being conservative means being backward, stodgy, rigid, and judgmental.

Confident conservatives think the word conservative is a great word. Conservative means classic. It means that some things in life never go out of style.

If I were to show up at a party of yours in a 1980s outfit, complete with big hair, you could legitimately call me backward. If, however, I were to show up at your party in a black pants and a white shirt, with colorful accessories, I would not look out of place. I’d have a classic look. This same analogy can be used with books, music, and art. Some things simply don’t need to change, or just don’t change — and human nature is one of them.

What my husband and I see a lot of – and I bet you do too – are people who vote Democrat, or refer to themselves as liberal, but are actually conservative in their outlook and lifestyle. These folks call themselves liberal because they want people to think they’re open-minded, forward-thinking people. In other words, they’ve fallen for the idea that being conservative means being backward, clueless, or bigoted.

Of course, none of this is true. Some people who call themselves conservative may indeed be this way, just as some people who call themselves liberal have their minds open so wide their brains have fallen out – but those are the exceptions.

The great thing about being conservative is that one doesn’t need to qualify his position because his position doesn’t change. Conservatives are sensible, smart, moral, fair, and genuinely open-minded, rather than faux open-minded. These traits hold up over time, no matter how the world changes.

Those who are afraid of the word conservative should reconsider the term they use to describe themselves. Do your values and lifestyle match your political philosophy? Do you live conservatively but call yourself liberal? If so, then start wearing the conservative label proudly.

Just because liberals have butchered the term doesn’t mean you have to let them.

Suzanne Venker is co-author of the forthcoming book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say. Her website is www.suzannevenker.com.