Regarding the Kennedy quote, a conservative would respond something like this:
We conservatives look at America and ask, How did something so decent, so different from other societies, ever get created and last over 200 years? Of course, we always seek to improve it. But more than anything else, we seek to preserve it and its core values. We do not “dream of things that never were.” We dream the same dream as our American forefathers did — to maintain a society committed to the values of E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and In God We Trust. As for utopian dreams, we believe they are more likely to result in nightmares — horrors that would engulf America and the world if America were to be transformed.
To John Lennon’s song, a conservative would respond:
Lennon’s utopia is our dystopia. A world without God to give people some certitude that all their suffering is not meaningless is a nightmare. A world without religion means a world without any systematic way of ennobling people. A world without countries is a world without the United States of America; a world governed by the ruthless tyrannies and by the morally imbecilic United Nations, where mass murderers sit on its “human rights” councils. A world without heaven or hell is a world without any ultimate justice, where torturers and their victims have identical fates — oblivion. A world without possessions is a world in which some enormous state possesses everything and the individual is reduced to the status of a serf.
Liberals frequently criticize conservatives for fearing change. That is not correct. We fear transforming that which is already good. The moral record of humanity does not fill us with optimism about “fundamentally transforming” something as rare as America. Evil is normal. America is not.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.