The cornerstone of American conservatism is traditionalism: preserving centuries-old ideals and tenets that were created when the country was little more than a collection of colonies. While “all men are created equally” is the core and timeless value of the Constitution, others are dated.

Elias Isquith of Salon hammers down this point perfectly when he criticizes the conservatives for their stance on immigration. Isquith noted that Republicans’ love of the Constitution is a “focus on form and process instead of substance.” Essentially, this means that Republicans don’t care about what’s good policy more than they care about how long a rule has been on the books.

Republicans exemplify this notion:

when the vast majority of GOPers voted to repeal President Obama’s recent unilateral moves to reduce undocumented immigrant deportations. It wasn’t much of a surprise, then, to see Speaker John Boehner try to frame the vote as having little to do with immigration policy per se, and everything to do with reversing an “executive overreach [that] is an affront to the rule of law.”

The Republicans repealed Obama’s immigration order, as well as attacked others, not because they didn’t agree with the orders. They attacked because “oh no, the President used legal action to circumvent us. Let’s get him, boys!” It should be noted that even a panel of conservative law experts said Obama operated well within the legal realm.

Isquith noted that Republicans are also at contradictive odds with their support of the Constitution, which contains the 14th Amendment, and their opposition to immigrant “anchor babies.” It boils down to the Republicans wanting to defend tradition when it falls in line with their agenda. Liberals don’t have this problem, however.

As Isquith noted, “as a lefty, I don’t have to shoulder the burden of reconciling my policy preferences with my devotion to tradition.” And that’s absolutely true of most, if not all, liberals. Looked at closely, liberals could actually be considered the true defenders of the American tradition. But what’s the American tradition?

Jon Stewart said it best:

What you [conservatives] are demonstrating is the health and vitality of America’s greatest tradition – a fevered, frightened ruling class lamenting the rise of a new ethnically and religiously diverse new class. . . Except you’re forgetting one thing – that is the American experiment [emphasis added].

America’s real tradition isn’t anchored by repeated processes and legal rituals. The American tradition is progressive and ever-changing. Our tradition morphs itself to accommodate the everchanging social landscape of America.