By Graham Glover –
In 1992, 4 months before I could legally vote, I proudly registered as a Republican. Although the child of Democratic parents, I became a conservative in high school and eagerly looked forward to casting my first ballot that November. My commitment to the GOP stood strong despite President Clinton’s elections and for the years that followed in college, as a lobbyist, then a seminarian, I was a vocal and ardent Republican.
After graduating from the seminary, I began work on my PhD in Political Science. I also met my bride, the child of a Democratic politician. While serving a small Lutheran parish with fairly conservative members in a very conservative town, fully immersed in doctoral work, and traversing the state for my father-in-law’s campaign, my loyalty to all things politically conservative began to waver. After a while I changed my party affiliation and for the past 10 years have been part of a dying (if not already dead) political breed: the Southern Democrat.
My wife tells me I’m still a Republican at heart, and on some issues, she’s probably right. But as I daily survey the political landscape of our nation, I am confronted with a conservative movement that has become so asinine in their policies and so dogmatic in their governing that I fear I’m slowly, but surely, becoming a liberal.
Did I just say I’m becoming a liberal?! Say it ain’t so! I mean, I’m a pastor in a theologically conservative denomination. I’m an officer in the United States Army. On so many levels I seem destined to embrace conservatism.
But here’s the problem: I no longer embrace political conservatism, and conservatives have only themselves to blame.
On the domestic front, conservatives have lost all sensibility. There isn’t a tax that don’t want to cut, if not eliminate, no matter what such cuts would do the vast majority of the nation. Somehow they have poisoned voters’ minds that unless the wealthiest 1% of our nation are looked out for, then our economy will crumble. For some reason it is anathema to ask those whose finances are beyond sound to contribute more to our nation’s well-being. Why only helping the wealthiest of the wealthiest is beneficial to the average American is something I will never understand, but conservatives continue to vote for policies and politicians that will never improve their economic situation. The same is also true for conservatives’ blind obedience to the free market. Unbridled capitalism is the cure for everything for conservatives, no matter how many are left behind in the process. To suggest that we are morally responsible for the least of our citizens is a platitude conservatives will always ignore. Let the market figure it out they proclaim – a most Darwinian and heartless approach to economics.
Conservatives have also sold their political soul to the religious right, a movement that should frighten any serious believer.
There are some who are not cultural crusaders, but by and large, the conservative movement lacks any appreciation for properly dividing the secular and the ecclesial. Listening to the self-righteous sermons these politicians that suddenly discover God pontificate is both laughable and cause for alarm. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m listening to a politician or a lame attempt to impersonate Jimmy Swaggart. But even those whose faith is genuine are victims of a movement that uses the call to faith not as a means to unite, to heal, and to forgive – but rather as a means to divide, to tear down, and to condemn.
On war, conservatives seem ready to fight any nation that does not fully embrace that which American deems to be politically and militarily correct. More troops on the ground, more calls for combat, more rattling of our mighty sabers is how conservatives think peace is won. Diplomacy and negotiation are frowned upon in almost every situation. Democracy, at least the American version of it, must be spread to ever nation on the earth, no matter the cost and no matter the outcome. The conservatives’ devotion to a type of “democratic imperialism” is something that has all the marks of empire and none of a republic – defying the very nature of our nation’s founding.
On issues dealing with education and the environment, conservatives seem to close their eyes to the true causes of these perils, focusing instead on reasons why the government should ignore them. But this should come as no surprise to anyone who embraces conservatism, since the government, according to a conservative, is nothing but an evil monstrosity that seldom does any good for our nation. You know, that awful government that they want to protect their wealth, spread their faith, and subjugate their enemy.
At the end of the day, conservatism, much more than liberalism (with the one and glaring exception of abortion), has become a movement that is built on, embraced, governed and guided by the extremes. It is a movement that is losing my support to the shocking, and to be honest, frightening dismay, of liberalism.
A liberal. Something I never thought would become. Something I may yet be thanks only to conservatives and their ridiculous cause.