Is conservatism doomed to fail?
Not a Pretty Picture, That's For Sure!
"Conservatives" come in all shapes and stripes, sizes and styles. You may even think of yourself as a "conservative". You may define "conservative" as being cautious, frugal, traditional, Christian, perhaps even "average American". You may believe in small government, low taxes, a strong defense and "traditional" values. These decriptions may well apply to the "good-old-boy" or gal out there in the populace, generally hard-working, meaning no harm, just trying to live their lives.
But these descriptions woefully fail to fully detail the complexities of conservatism, both in the individual "Mom and Pop" Conservative, and certainly in the positions of conservatives in political, economic and cultural power, now and throughout American history.
Let's take them separately.
Mom and Pop Conservative:
These are usually decent folks, but they are just confused. They are confused all the more because they don't even know they are confused. Here's why. Most of them haven't thought deeply about their political beliefs; they just go along with the flow of the society they belong to. It's very similar to their religious beliefs. They don't go out and learn about and try out all of the world's religions to find the one that brings them closer to God; usually they believe in the religion that is given to them by their parents or spouse or immediate society. You would think that if they really love God as much as they say they do, they would make a little more effort to learn as much as they can about God by understanding what other religions and cultures have to say about the subject. But no, they are satisfied to take the easy way out and just believe what they are told to believe.
So, too, with their politics, which actually often marches in lock-step with their religious affiliation. You would think that if they love America so much, they would have studied American history and closely follow all of the nuances of the major political issues facing the country. But they do not. Most of them haven't studied and don't closely follow politics. They never knew or have forgotten much about American politics and history. They haven't even thought very deeply about what makes America America. They mostly rely on their "gut" instincts about what is right and wrong, but that instinct is fostered largely by what everyone else around them seems to believe, and is very easily manipulated.
In other words, they follow the herd. And while in the herd they hear all kinds of reasons why they should believe in the herd. The herd is the best! The other herds are flawed, weird, possibly dangerous. They learn to be suspicious and fearful of members of any other herd. And so, the seeds of a sense of superiority and fear are deeply sown. These twin emotions now taint all of their convictions.
It's called clan mentality. There was a time when such a mentality was useful, actually logical. When the Germanic tribes or the Vikings might come raiding over the hillside any particular day, it was wise to be wary, even fearful, and a sense of superiority might be just the edge that helped you win a sword-fight against, say, the Trojans. But that time has long passed. Clan mentality is now a dangerous relic. We don't live in clans any longer; we live in nations of millions of people, and we are connected through modern communications, commerce and culture with billions of people around the globe. Thinking of oneself, or even one's nation, as superior, and fearing the rest of world is a schizophrenic mindset, and a pathway that leads to catastrophe. Submitted as evidence: Nazi Germany.
Conservative Moms and Pops think they are being good people by maintaining the values of the herd, but such clan "values" are warped and woefully out of date. Not only does the herd feed a sense of superiority and fear, but by reinforcing its own traditional clan values it distorts real values. What "real" values? Actual moral and ethical values, including Christian values and American values. And so, conservatives get wrapped up in a tangled web of group-think that actually makes very little sense, outside of clan mentality. They are not stuck in the 1950s, they are stuck in the Middle Ages.
For instance, Mom and Pop Conservative profess to believe in freedom. But they really don't. What they actually believe is that everyone should be free to conform to the way they think. That's clan mentality. When someone actually acts upon their freedom through non-conformity, it makes Mom and Pop conservative very uncomfortable. The clan, the herd, is threatened by such behavior. The precept of freedom, or liberty, is not a clan value.
They say they believe in equality. But they really don't. What they actually believe in is the traditional clan heirarchy. Some people are just naturally superior to others. Rich, white, Protestant males are at the very pinnacle of the heirarchy in the minds of many Mom and Pop Conservatives. These are the former lords, princes, kings of old. Anyone different, including females, but also people of a different culture, religion, culture or color, are automatically inferior in the minds of the conservative, and not to be respected or trusted. Equality does not really work within the clan.
In the great tradition of the west, Mom and Pop Conservative proclaim they are "rugged individualists". Far from it. They are members of a herd. They are clones. Especially the men. Look, see them dressed up in their little uniforms, the white shirt, the tie, the suit coat, the pressed pants, or the blue-collar uniform, or the polo shirt and slacks, or the sports get-up. Moreover, they look the same from birth to death: the same clothes, the same hair style, the same ideology (both religious and political) they received as a child. The word individualist is squandered on them. They are conformist.
Mom and Pop Conservative claim to be Christians. But they rarely act like it. Christianity as a whole is not a clan. Its overriding themes are love and forgiveness, but these are effortlessly demoted by clannish sects in favor of a mentality that focuses on superiority and fear of the other. Love and forgiveness do not promote or protect the clan.
Mom and Pop Conservative claim to love America. But they don't really understand what that means. They think it means their own social group. That's not all America means. They think it means their home town. That's not all America means. They think it means their religious denomination. That's definitely not what America means.
America is just three things: land, people, ideals.
To a real American patriot, the land is sacred. Mom and Pop Conservative don't have much affinity for the land except perhaps when they're off wandering in their RV. Their values don't include fighting against an American river being polluted, or a smokestack belching poison into American skies, or an American mountain-top being lopped off for the sake of profit, or an American wilderness being punctured by oil wells, or an endangered American species being driven to extinction. Instead, Mom and Pop Conservative imagine that it's probably a member of their clan cashing in on these natural resources, and that's just fine. America the Beautiful, to them, is just a tuneful ditty.
America's people represent the melting pot of the world. The Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Though it's all-American and entirely Christian, Mom and Pop Conservative don't like those words. Clan mentality doesn't have any use for the tired, the poor or tempest-tost.
Yet the Native Americans were here first, by a long shot. Then came the Vikings, those despised enemies of the English. A long time passed, then came the Protestants seeking sanctuary from religious persecution, whereupon they immmediately began to religiously persecute. The Catholics arrived about the same time or were already here. They were followed by Dutch, Germans, Irish, French, and a host of other nationalities, including, of course, Africans who arrived very early on, but not by first class ticket. It was just this well-shaken rabble that the founding fathers were thinking of as they conjured a system of government for "We the People." Mom and Pop Conservative don't believe in that "We the People." No, they believe only in "We the People of the Clan".
The ideals and founding principles of the United States of America are: "All Men are Created Equal", "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness", "Justice", "We the People". Mom and Pop Conservative are edgy about all of them. That "All men are created equal" part... why, that might, some day, allow a black man to be elected president! Egads! "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as "inalienable rights", what weird, non-conformist activities and identities might result from such a dangerous idea? "We the People", couldn't that be modified to "We the White, Protestant, Male, Somewhat Wealthy, at least not Poor or Colored, People"?
The preamble to the Constitution states, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Mom and Pop Conservative are not pleased. Included are not only the dangerous words "We the People" but also the horrendous word "welfare"! Yes, indeed.
God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. A nebulous, define-it-as-you-will "Creator" is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Jesus is not mentioned in any American foundational document. Yet American ideals are complimentary to the major tenets of Christian love and forgiveness. It is conservatives who don't realize their clan mentality is opposed to them both. American and Christian principles emphasize the importance not of the clan, but of the wider community, the whole, Jews and Gentiles, We the People. All of the people. All of your neighbors. Not just the white ones. Not just the rich ones. Not just the Protestant ones.
The ideal in both systems, American and Christian, is to be a good member of a greater whole. Take care of each other. Indeed, love one another. We're all in this together. All for one, and one for all. Yes, be a rugged individualist (which, as stated, is nigh impossible for a conservative), but your rights end where the next person's rights begin, and your rights definitely end where the community's rights begin. The community, the nation, is more important than you. "We the People" is the American way, not "it's my property, I'll do what I want." "Domestic tranquility" and "the general welfare" are to be respected and promoted. "All men are created equal" demands respect. Only if Mom and Pop Conservative give up their feelings of superiority and fear can they embrace these true American, and Christian values. But they are unwilling to give up clan mentality. It is more important to them to conform to the herd than to think deeply about and embrace true Christian or American values. And so, they remain poor Americans and poor Christians. Neither Jefferson or Kierkegaard would have much respect for them.
Mom and Pop Conservative claim they love America but not enough to pay very much, if any, tax to support it. They love American highways, the postman, Social Security, Medicare, retirement, the internet, the Space Program, the National Parks, the electrical grid, the water supply, dams and bridges and airports, plus, of course, the armed forces, but they hate socialism, which is exactly what all of these things are. They complain about people who "blame" America for its mistakes and sins, while they, the true patriots, are perfectly willing to allow America to wallow in mediocrity and dabble in immorality. They love America, but don't care much for its land or ideals, or most Americans. They disdain liberal Americans, feminist Americans, unemployed Americans, poor Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, Islamic Americans, Hindu Americans, Buddhist Americans, Taoist Americans, Shinto Americans, Confucian Americans, agnostic Americans, atheist Americans, gay Americans, lesbian Americans, transgender Americans, and Americans with disabilities. As a modern political (or religious) philosophy, conservatism is an absolute mess. It only makes sense as clan mentality.
So Mom and Pop conservative are basically good-hearted people, who in their conformity and clan mentality just haven't thought things out very well. But now let's turn to a much smaller, but far more powerful group of conservatives who have thought about politics (at least) very carefully and know full well how to work it to their advantage.
Conservative power-mongers are are a quantum leap apart from Mom and Pop Conservative. Whereas we might grant the benefit of the doubt of inner goodness to Mom and Pop, professional conservatives are a different breed entirely. These have been megalomaniacal, greed-serving, power-consolidating, exploitative and dangerous villains of the first order. Read that sentence again. It sounds like over-the-top hyperbole, but it is the simple truth. Conservative politicians and corporate, religious and cultural leaders have been among the most harmful individuals ever to walk the American landscape.
These thugs and pirates have plundered America's treasure, raped its landscape, attempted to keep huge swaths of the general public confused and ignorant, sent us into ill-conceived wars, and violate the Constitution at will. Even a cursory glance at American history will reveal a slimy litany of abuses perpetrated upon the American people, and the republic itself, by those of the conservative persuasion.
Have there been abuses by liberals? Of course. No one is immune to the temptations that await those in power. But a liberal must abandon their principles to engage in nefarious activity. Nefarious activity is built into the professional conservative ethos. Why? Because liberals at least demonstrate some partiality in protecting the commons and the "general welfare" of "We the People", whereas above all, the conservatives worship money and power.
The depth of the depravity and damage wreaked by conservatives over the span of this nation's existence far exceeds the liberal record of small-time corruption and lapse of judgement. Two of the most recent presidents are precisely cases in point. Bill Clinton engaged in a sex act in office. There are no excuses. It was stupid, a betrayal of the American people, a betrayal of his party. But no one was killed. The economy was not affected. America's standing in the world was not diminished. Not an iota of lasting damage to the republic was the result. Indeed, President Clinton left the nation in better shape than he received it. By contrast, George W. Bush presided over a seemingly endless parade of debacles, lies, secrets, scandals, record deficits, humiliations, incompetencies that actually did involve wars, people dying, an economy "in shambles" (John McCain's words), and the United States of America being left in a position severely worsened during his tenure.
Defining The Movement of Conservatism:
To understand the conservative political movement it is important to understand a little background of conservativism. There have been conservatives and liberals throughout history. Classically, conservatives strive to maintain cultural, political and economic systems that preserve and protect traditional heirarchies, customs, status-quo and the social and economic advantages of their particular clan or group(notably, wealthy, white males). Liberals are not so enamored by heirarchy or tradition, and continually strive for a more free and egalitarian society. Often times the clashes between conservative and liberal come down to change: progress that seeks to educate and help people, and progress that seeks to bring people of many different orientations together in more peaceful harmony. The liberals are for it; the conservatives are against it.
Socrates was a liberal; the Athenean court that convicted him of "corrupting the minds of the youth" (yes, liberals are always doing that) was conservative. Jesus was a liberal; the Pharisees who could not tolerate his egalitarian philosophy and demanded he be crucified by the Romans were conservative. Galileo and Copernicus were liberal; the Church that imprisoned them and demanded they rescind their scientific astronomical discoveries was conservative. The American founding fathers were liberal; King George, the British government, and the American British loyalists that wished to preserve the status quo of kingly rule were conservative. Charles Darwin was a liberal; the authorities (active even today) who would deny his seminal work on evolution were conservative. The pattern repeats itself throughout history.
The modern conservative movement dates back to the 18th Century's Age of Reason. Of course, the conservatives were against it.
Reason, or rationality, was a dangerous thing according to the so-called "father of modern conservatism", Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Ironically, for his day Burke was comparatively liberal. In the British Parliament of the late 18th Century, there were far more conservative viewpoints than Burke's; these proved so backward no one claims them anymore. But Burke did represent the professional conservative politician's deep distrust of the common man. Instead, he believed that an aristrocracy or oligarchy of wealthy and educated elites were the natural rulers of any land, that the momentum of tradition, custom and heritage should prevail, and that the common man should not attempt to reason, but rather should bow to higher intellect and authority. It was, in effect, a continuation of clan mentality, where the herd follows stronger, superior leaders.
Don't think, conform is the undergirding of conservative philosophy. This faith and trust in tradition, and stubborn refusal to embrace new ideas that might allow them to quickly adapt to changing circumstance, is at the core of why conservatives so often find themselves at odds with truth and progress.
Burke also set the early template for the conservative's sense of entitlement. The concepts known as "property rights" and "the free market" established that a man (i.e. a wealthy man) should have unfettered control over his possessions, including goods for sale, regardless of how his control over those possessions may interfere with another man's rights or the common good. The wealthier a man was, the more "property rights" he could expect to acrue, even to the detriment of all of society. Governments should not interfere or attempt regulation of such rights of the free market (except in so far as a government might assist such a wealthy man to even greater advantage over his competitors). Much later, conservatives would conspire to bring this very same concept to the benefit of corporations. Edmund Burke would have loved that, being a shareholder in the notorious British East India Company, a monopoly, which would even before his death play a pivotal role in the American Revolution.
Edmund Burke, the patron saint of conservatives, was quite different from America's founding fathers, who did believe (albeit tentatively) in the rationality of the common man, and were very suspicious of oligarchy, aristocracy and corporations. Indeed, the American Revolution was instigated by revolt against a corporation! The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the monopoly that King George's (and Burke's) British East India Company attempted to foist upon the American colonies. The original "Tea Party" was a revolt against corporatism, a fact modern Tea-Partiers would do very well to ponder, and thereby re-aim their ire at the most dangerous monster threatening their freedom and way of life today!
Anticipating the gathering power of business and corporations, even in his day, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." How prescient a warning for us today as corporatism gains a strangle-hold on American economics, politics and culture, and how different a perspective from Edmund Burke and the conservatives.
Conservatism has always been about the rich and powerful. And the rich and powerful hate democracy. They hate the idea of liberty. They hate the idea that just anyone has the "inalienable" right to pursue happiness. They really hate the idea of equality. All of these ideals imply some sort of cultural balance. Professional conservatives don't want balance, they want money and power permanently tilted toward them and stacked in their favor, just like in the good old days of feudal lords.
You Mom and Pop Conservatives are being hoodwinked by the real leaders of the conservatives who could not care less about you, and only care about power and money. The leaders of conservatism laugh at you; they think you are an idiot, which they believe is proven by how easily you are prodded to follow the herd. The wizards atop the conservative pyramid scheme are ever mindful that to prevail in their quest to maintain the heirarchy that is beneficial to themselves and their aristocratic ilk, they must find a way to recruit great numbers of supporters who are willing to cast votes which may, actually, be against their own best interests.
How to do this? They certainly cannot be honest and say, "We are the party of, by and for the wealthy elite and corporations. Our credo is 'May the Rich get Richer.' Vote for us". But long ago, the conservatives realized they only had to divert and deceive, and divide and conquer. To do it was easy. Professional conservatives are natural liars, connivers and love keeping secrets from the general public. And to divide and conquer, they would simply have to capitalize (they do so love that word) on clan mentality: that is, feelings of superiority and fear.
Thus the modern conservative politician's alchemic blend of opposition to taxes and regulation, and "wedge issues" (gun control, abortion, immigration, gay rights, stem cell research, etc.), diverting the public's attention from their real motivations (putting more money and power in the pockets of the wealthy elite and corporations), encouraging public amnesia about colossal conservative failures, stoking the fires of bigotry, prejudice and blind faith in tradition, heritage, culture, suppressing voter turnout, and tying all of this up in a pretty little red-white-and-blue wrapped bouquet of patriotism, completely fake though it may be.
A certain, very large, segment of the American population just eats it up! They are completely blind to how they are being used by the aristocracy, the oligarchy, the professional conservatives. Yet this toxic blend of clan mentality - jingoism, greed, fear of the "other" and of "the end of our way of life" - has actually delivered innumerable elections, local, state and national to the conservatives. You have to hand it to them, professional conservatives know how to win, in the short run. In the long run, they always lose. Why? Because you can only struggle against truth and justice for so long. Inevitably, "the end of our way of life" comes to pass, and guess what, it's better!
Conservative tradition, custom, the status-quo always eventually gives way to liberal reason and rationale, to knowledge and scientific discoveries, to higher creativity and innovation, to expanded liberty and equality, and even to greater morality than the older way ever provided.
Thus America broke away from England, though the conservatives were against it. In America, they were the "Tories", still the name of the ultra-conservative party in England. The liberal principles of greater liberty and equality had been unleashed. Non-aristocratic men became empowered within the social, economic and political system. A little later, in the American liberal tradition, these rights were given even to non-propertied men, the very serfs that the conservative feudal lords had exploited. Public education was enacted. Slavery was abolished. Women got the right to vote. Children were removed from workhouses. Workers unionized and won labor rights. Social Security came into existence. Black Americans received their full rights under the Constitution. Consumers won rights and protections. The environment and endangered species became something to cherish and protect as national treasures. Gay Americans received rights. Conservatives fought, viciously, against each and every one of these advances. In one instance, the issue of slavery, it took a Civil War, the bloodiest episode in American history, to roll conservative clan mentality back into the dark age from which it emerged.
Thankfully, for all of us, conservatives may win some battles, but they always have, and always will, lose the war of ideas!
Conservatives will eventually lose the political, economic and cultural battles going on today, as well. Up until recently, they were on a winning roll. With his smiley face and perfect hair, Ronald Reagan conned the nation (and swaths of the rest of the world) into believing that it was "Morning in America". He claimed the nation's future depended upon the free market, free trade, deregulation, slashing taxes (particularly for the rich), corporate mergers, corporate welfare, corporate tax-evasion, union-busting, reliance on oil, and de-emphasis on environmental protections. Some called it "trickle-down" economics. Reagan's rival for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, George Bush, called it "VooDoo economics." After Reagan selected Bush to be his vice-president, we didn't hear any more about "VooDoo Economics." It was renamed "Reaganomics." But Bush was right. Like all conservative concepts, it didn't make sense.
What actually emerged from Reaganomics was a slow dismantling of much that had built up America. Whereas American prosperity had been built by the collective of We the People, now economic policy was intentionally skewed to "trickle down" from on high. The feudal lords and robber barons could come out of hiding, and now had a friend in the U.S. government. What arrived with Reagan was a return to full-tilt corporatism, the very evil that the Boston Tea Party had fought against. The result: the rich got richer; the poor got poorer; and the American middle class has been decimated by Reaganomics.
Ronald Reagan's eight years in office produced a frenzy of corporate takeovers, merger mania, savings & loan bail-outs, scandals, clandestine wars, war on drugs, propping up ruthless dictators, arming Saddam Hussein, arming Osama bin Laden, running up record budget deficits, running up record national debt, running up record trade deficits, giving corporations tax breaks to move jobs, factories and headquarters to other countries, privatization, cut-backs in social services, cut-backs in infrastructure, and eternally battling a boogie-man (back then it was the Soviets; now it's the terrorists). In hindsight, we can clearly see how ALL of Reagan's policies that the conservatives told us were absolutely correct were absolutely wrong!
Bill Clinton did little to turn the tide in his first term in office, then was stymied by a Republican Congress later on, though he did manage to balance the budget by the time he left office, leaving his successor with a record budget surplus. By the time George W. Bush took office, conservatives had the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. It actually seemed possible that the conservatives might be able to pull off, by hook or crook, that elusive "permanent Republican majority" they had long dreamed of.
The permanent majority... the dream of Karl Rove and the neoconservatives! So close, but then they went too far. Politically, Cheney-Bush was Reagan on steroids. Who could have predicted how bad it would turn out? Only all of history. Only conservative greed exceeds conservative incompetence. Let's consider the damage (and note how many of these debacles date back to Reagan):
- 9/11 on Bush's watch, the worst attack on American soil in history (while he was asleep at the wheel).
- The unfinished war in Afghanistan, now the longest war in American history.
- Osama bin Laden still on the loose.
- The Iraq Lies & War. A trillion dollars, 4,000 American lives lost, 100,000 Iraqis dead, millions displaced, for what, again?
- Privatization debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Stop-loss, and America's military worn out and demoralized.
- America's moral compass smashed by an administration that believed in torture.
- America's standing in the world severely compromised.
- The utter incompetence of Katrina.
- The economy "in shambles" (John McCain's words).
- Record foreclosures.
- Record bankruptcies. most of them from medical bills.
- America's manufacturing base a memory.
- Not a finger lifted to combat Global Warming.
- Hardly a dime spent on American infrastructure.
- No serious effort at immigration reform.
- An ever deepening dependency on oil, particularly foreign oil.
- Soaring budget deficits, trade deficits and national debt.
The legacy of George W. Bush is a complete and utter disgrace, and a permanent stain upon America. Now it is crystal clear that conservative policies are no better now than they were back in the 1920s when the conservatives led us directly into the Great Depression. So it was not surprising in 2008 when the American public did exactly what it did in the election of 1932 and kicked the bums out!
The damage and disgrace was so great that many pundits predicted the complete demise of the Republican Party. But like zombies, they cannot be killed. And now they are back. Now blaming Obama and Democrats for the conservative wars of choice, for the ravaged economy, for the immigration mess Republicans refused to deal with. And, once again, the professional conservatives are hoping you quickly forget what they really stand for, and what they really did.
Now you know the basics of conservatism. Now you know that anyone who says that "liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, they are all the same" is either stupid or conniving (hello, Ralph Nader). They are anything but the same; they are polar opposites on the serious issues. Liberals support the American values of equality, opportunity, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, while conservatives really, deep down inside, oppose these values for all but their closest kith and kin.
Of course, we know that you conservatives out there in the cornfields of Iowa, the oil patches of West Texas, on the fishing boats of Alaska, the maple trees of Vermont, the forests of the Old South, are not like this at all. You really do love America. OK. Not knowing you personally, we will take your word for it. But know this: your conservative leaders are scoundrels of the highest order; always have been and always will be. They are liars and crooks and thieves. It's in their DNA. They don't believe in freedom, they don't believe in equality, they don't believe in opportunity for all, they don't believe in reason, they don't believe in science, they don't believe in the pursuit of happiness. They don't believe in small government. They don't believe in your religion. They believe in money and power. Period. They think you are as dumb as a stump, and they do not have your best interests at heart... nor America's. They've been on the wrong side of every major issue in American history, from 1776 on through to today. Read your history, carefully, and follow the dollars... you will see who these "patriots" really are.Compare Conservative/Liberal Values:
|Policies Help the Wealthy Elite & Corporations|
The real conservative objective throughout American history (never more so than during the George W. Bush regime) has been to make the rich and powerful more rich and powerful.
By definition, policies which help the commoner and "common good" are generally opposed by the wealthy elite and corporations.
|Policies Help the Commoner & Common Good|
Since the founding of America, liberals have sought to expand opportunities for the average person, and even the downtrodden, seeking a more egalitarian society that works for everyone.
|Desires to Subjugate|
Historically, conservative policies sought to preserve and protect traditions that subjugated women, working men, children and minorities. Today, conservative policies seek to subjugate consumers, workers and the middle and lower classes in favor of corporations and the wealthy.
|Desires to Liberate|
Liberals led the struggle to uplift and liberate women, workers, children, African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities. Today, liberals are struggling to prevent the erosion of hard-won rights for workers, consumers and the middle and lower classes in the face of an onslaught of conservative measures to reduce or destroy such rights and power.
|Desires to Disenfranchise|
See above. Also, conservatives habitually seek to depress voter turnout. The lower the turnout, the fewer voters they have to convince to vote against their own best interest, and the better the conservative's chance of winning.
|Desires to Enfranchise|
See above. Liberals seek to expand voter turnout, realizing that the greater the number of voters, the greater the likelihood of the liberal candidate or issue prevailing.
|Desires to Divide|
Conservatives understand their policies serve only a select few, and that they cannot win unless they "divide and conquer". They do this by playing upon voters' prejudices, fears and "wedge" issue opinions, often successfully convincing voters to actually vote against their self-interest. They also seek to divide America from the rest of the world through bully tactics and unilateral actions.
In conservative ideology, it is the individual on his (or her) own, and America separate from and above the rest of the world.
|Desires to Unite|
Liberal positions actually serve the welfare of far more individuals than those of conservatives, therefore their policies are more likely to unite rather than divide. Liberals also seek to join and cooperate with the rest of the world through careful, nuanced diplomacy and organizations such as the United Nations.
In liberal ideology, we are all in this together, we work together, we help each other, as Americans, and as nations of the world.
Conservatives seek to preserve a white-bread world that supports the primacy of patriarchal, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant culture, and do not generally bother to attempt to understand other cultures. Occasionally, they will allow persons or groups who are somewhat similar (i.e. Catholics, minorities) within their tent, but only if it is self-serving. This ignorance fuels suspicion and fear of "the other", and the overriding self-serving interest fuels animosity and distrust from "the other". In the end it is a losing proposition.
Liberals, even though perhaps a part of WASP culture, value a variety of perspectives and cultural traditions, and are more open to learning about them... thereby reducing fear of the unknown. They are free to develop true and lasting trust with "the other", and forge a better future that works for all.
|Believes in Conformity|
Conservatives seek a homogeneous populace that conforms to their conceptions of "traditional values". Anyone outside this populace, whether voluntary or involuntary, is "the other", and is subject to ridicule, scorn, ostracization, bigotry, fear, and sometimes violence. In this regard, conservatives pay lip service to concepts such as freedom and individuality, but can become very unsettled when these American rights are put to any use which varies from their sense of conformity.
|Believes in Freedom|
Liberals recognize that the full exercise of freedom, creativity and "the pursuit of happiness" not only allows non-conformity but in many cases requires it.
|Desires to Exploit|
Conservatives by nature are exploiters... of workers, of women, of minorities, of the economy (for the corporation), of the environment.
|Desires to Protect|
Liberals defend, preserve and protect workers, women, minorities, the economy (for the middle class), and the environment.
|Distrust Science & Art|
Science and art often conflict with conservative concepts.
|Embrace Science & Art|
Liberals are far more free to learn from and enjoy science and art because these generally support liberal values and concepts.
Conservatives cling tenaciously to traditional, often archaic systems, including clan mentality that fears any threat to established status-quo. That status-quo generally plays in favor of the conservative leader, thus his need to protect it. To do so, he transposes his own fear (though often in a distorted, exagerrated version) to his followers to ensure their loyalty.
A "boogie-man" or evil regime is actually an aid in securing such blind loyalty. Thus, you have Ronald Reagan ramping up his belligerent rhetoric against a fading Soviet Union (the "Evil Empire"), and Cheney-Bush with their "Axis of Evil" and "terror alerts" encouraging a fearful populace to be fearful after being attacked by 19 guys with box-cutters.
Conservatives will try to frighten you because they want you to turn to them them for "security". They think you are sheep, and if spooked will follow right where they want you to go... wanting to be told what to believe in religion and politics.
Liberals are much less invested in preserving the status quo, and therefore much less fearful of change to such systems. Instead, liberals can allow themselves to see change as potentially positive and hopeful, even as it overturns some long-held traditions.
As for boogie-men, liberals have been far better at confronting and defeating them than conservatives... and without having to terrorize their own nation. "The only thing we have to fear... is fear itself," pronounced Franklin Roosevelt, rallying American resolve before taking on and defeating two of the most fearsome militaries in world history -- the Nazis and Imperial Japan.
Liberals will tell you to fear nothing because America is the home of the free and the brave. They think you are a lion or lioness for America, fearsome in your love for and defense of this country, and perfectly capable of thinking for yourself.
To achieve their objectives, conservatives often are compelled to distort and deceive so as to hide their true intent. Masters of "disinformation", their actions are often the precise opposite of their promises. This practice is built into conservative strategy. Thus, "The Clear Skies Initiative" was a giveaway to air polluters; "The Healthy Forests Initiative" a boon for timber companies; "The Patriot Act", actually an afront to the U.S. Constitution; the "Compassionate Conservative" and "Uniter not a Divider" candidate became one of the least compassionate and most divisive presidents; "Fair and Balanced" Fox News is, in fact, the least fair and balanced television news channel in American history. The "No Spin Zone" conservative television program spins like a whirling dervish.
Liberal politicians have been known not to deliver on their promises, but rarely do they need to lie about their intent. And rarer still would be the liberal who does the exact opposite of what was promised. The liberal agenda revolves around helping average people. No wedge issues are needed. No disinformation required. Liberals rely on voters understanding the nuance of issues, and perceiving the holistic truth. Sometimes that is asking too much of the significant section of the populace that are low-information voters and/or are susceptible to manipulation, fear-mongering, bigot-baiting.
|Benefits from Ignorance.|
Conservative ideology often clashes with actual facts, scientific discovery and natural truth, so it is in the interest of conservatism if the populace remains disengaged and dumb. Conservatives hope that the voter has amnesia when it comes to American history, lest they realize how wrong-headed conservatives have been for over 230 years. Conservatives have actively worked against, indeed fought tooth and nail, every step of progress that our nation has ever made. And conservative economic policy has always favored the ultra wealthy and coporations. Yet they have greatly benefitted from the general public not well knowing these very facts.
In election cycles they strive to divert attention from the real issues, consistently throwing up smoke-screens of "wedge issues" to further confuse and confound a huge segment of the population, as well as happily engaging in the "politics of personal destruction" style mudslinging. Anything to keep actual facts out of the mix. Mindless consumerism and entertainment such as sports, video games, most television programming and other diversions also serve the conservative cause. It is no coincidence that such programming often comes directly from huge corporations eager to perpetuate the "dumbing down" of America.
|Benefits from Education.|
The more education an individual has, the more likely they are to tend toward liberal values. Scientists, researchers, professors, teachers, in general the smartest and most educated people in the country are liberals! And this is why conservatives are so often at odds with school and university curricula. Truly understanding the history of America means recognizing that this country was founded on liberal ideas, and that each and every stitch of progress made since 1776 sprang from a liberal font. The more information and knowledge a person has, the more they realize that issues can rarely be distilled down to black and white, but require a more nuanced approach.
In election cycles, liberals struggle to keep the focus on the primary issues that affect each and every person and family, and not get dragged into 1) tangent issues, such as abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc. that truly affect only a comparative few, or 2) personal attacks that serve to divert attention from the real issues.
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