Dating Conservatism

By Graham Glover

AWKWARD-DATE-facebook

Do you remember the girl you thought was perfect for you, but for reasons that seemed to defy logic, you never asked out on a date? Everyone told you that the two of you would be great together, but every time you talked to her something seemed a little off. Or what about the guy that came from the ideal family, the one that was devoted to his faith, his family, and his friends; but when you two were alone, things just got weird. Not perverse. Not immoral. But definitely strange.

This is how I feel about the conservative movement in 2015. By all accounts I should be a full-fledged conservative. As I’ve written countless times before, everything about my life screams conservative. I am a 41-year old, white, middle-class American male that is more than slightly balding. I am a Christian clergyman in one of the most theologically conservative Lutheran denominations in the world. I am an officer in the United States Army. I am happily married (first and only) with 2 children. All I need now is a white-picket fence to go around my yard. It wouldn’t take more than 2 seconds for any political pollster to look at my profile a label me a conservative. (And when I told them I proudly own every book Pat Buchanan has written, I’d be a labeled a strong conservative!)

But I most definitely am not a conservative, certainly not by 2015 standards. I want to be a conservative – at least, I think I should be – but I just can’t see myself dating the conservative movement any longer. People tell me we’re a great match, that we could do so much together. I don’t see it. We may appear to make a cute couple, but the conservative movement of 2015 is just weird. Actually, they’re more than that. They’re downright strange.

trump

In all seriousness, I have no idea what the conservative movement stands for anymore. What exactly are conservatives trying to conserve? I hear mantras like limited government, lower taxes, less regulation and spending, a strong military, and a need for traditional values. These campaign mantras have been used for decades, but I have no idea what they mean anymore. I don’t think many conservatives do either.

Is it limited government for all things or only those that are cliché for conservatives to rail against like education, the environment, and health care? I know conservatives loathe Obamacare, but why stop there? Why not get rid of Medicare and Medicaid too? Is there no end to the conservatives’ desire to limit, or more specifically, to get rid of the size and scope of the federal government? Moreover, if the federal government is so inherently bad why are there so many conservatives who make a career working for it? I’m not suggesting that the government is the answer to all our ills, but conservatives talk about it like it is a cancer on everything. How ironic that the movement vilifies the very institution it seeks to lead.

For as long as I can remember conservatives have demanded that taxes be lowered. But can someone tell me at what point the conservative movement will be happy with tax rates? Is it ultimately about getting rid of all taxes? Are there any taxes that they think are good? Presidents Bush 43, Bush 41, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, and Eisenhower all found goodness in taxes. None of them would be welcome by today’s conservatives because their ideas on taxes would be called too moderate, or even too liberal. It’s unbelievable how far right conservatives have moved on the issue of tax rates.

Ronald Reagan Turns 92

As for regulation and spending, the hypocrisy of conservatives is astounding. Regulation is a dirty word, conservatives say. We shouldn’t hinder private business – ever. No matter what businesses do, the less regulation, the better. Remember, government is bad. Private industry is good. At least according to conservatives.

I’m all for a strong military. I’ve seen firsthand why America needs to be the most robust military in the world. But to what end? Is there ever a time to cut back? Is there ever a war we shouldn’t fight or an entanglement we shouldn’t engage? We are the world’s lone superpower and by default, the world’s policeman. But conservatives will spend, spend, and spend some more on any and every military program they are presented. Once cannot be a conservative and at the same time advocate unlimited military spending.

Traditional values. I’m not even going to go there. The culture war is over. Period.

GOP-2016-Debate.3

During last night’s Republican debate in Milwaukee, a few candidates said it was time to take America back. I’m curious, take her back from what? Or more specifically, to what time would these conservatives like to return? I’m truly at a loss what it is about America that conservatives want to conserve. Old campaign mantras, written for a time long past, don’t work in 2015. They aren’t appealing. They’re pick-up lines that people see right through.

So, does my dissatisfaction with conservatism mean I should date liberalism? I may not like conservatism, but liberalism seems entirely incompatible with everything I am and represent. Could that oddity actually work? I shudder at the thought.

More on that potential relationship next week…

JaggedWordLogo2

12 thoughts on “Dating Conservatism

  1. I can relate to your point of view. I considered myself conservative for many years. Most of my life I have held traditional and conservative positions. I am two months short of 71 years old. However, I have found I am not truly conservative in all areas, nor liberal, but I prefer to just be “independent,” which gives me more freedom and does not put me in a concrete category.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, and I can relate to your comment: “does not put me in a concrete category”. Thanks, as always, for commenting.

      Like

  2. “Traditional values” is a fluid concept, they vary from age to age. Cicero complained of young married couples in Rome kissing in public as a moral outrage against traditional values, no better than the kids with their parties and orgies. Many religious institutions that we view as “conservative” and as possessing “traditional” values are rooted in enthusiasm and strictly American, 19th century spirituality.

    But, look deeper:
    Conservatives: Traditional American values of individual liberty and self determination – the essence of business and commerce – set it free.
    Liberals: Traditional American values of individual liberty and self determination – a basis for business and commerce as well as procreative choice, gender, and sexual identity – set it free.
    Conservatives: Traditional American values of individual liberty and self determination – government hampers it’s free expression – set it free – reduce government.
    Liberals: Traditional American values of individual liberty and self determination – government can clear the path for broader free expression – set it free – use government.
    Conservatives: Religious liberty – privilege for traditional churches, prayer in schools, ecumenism and unionism, civil religion for everyone, one nation under and anonymous god. Who could argue that?
    Liberals: Religious liberty – keep it in church and at home; no one to be subjected to unwanted public expression. You’re free to be you and everyone else is free to be themselves (see individual liberty and self-determination)
    Conservatives: Answer to poverty – infinite job growth (infinite consumption of inexhaustible resources) and responsible personal choices, pursuing dreams – the deserving will flourish.
    Liberals: Answer to poverty – infinite job growth (infinite consumption of inexhaustible resources), help making choices, broad safety nets – those who flourish must give something to those who don’t.
    Conservatives: Abortion – it is murder (regardless of personal liberty or religious beliefs) – keep the child and use your family to raise it (unless the child was conceived by rape or incest – then the woman’s promiscuity and morals are not an issue and you can have an abortion because, since morals were not involved, it won’t be murder.)
    Liberals: Abortion – The individual decides whether it is murder (see individual liberty and religious freedom).

    Both sides can make logical arguments for their positions based on traditional American values. To that extent, both sides are “conservative” in that they wish to preserve core values and see their actions stemming from those values. Want liberal and radical? Look to free grace – an affront to just deserts and human justice; the undeserving getting all they need at the cost of the One with all the wealth. Makes even Bernie Sanders look like a robber-barron.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hlewis, an excellent analysis. These comments are worthy of their own post. Thanks for stealing some of my thunder for next week. Ha!

      Your first and last paragraphs are especially spot on. Really appreciate the perspective you offer in the first paragraph.

      Thanks!

      Like

  3. I would like to see how many, if any, of the so-called conservatives would have the integrity to come to my State of Iowa and tell the primary voters here that the ethanol subsidies have to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article. The modern history of conservatives is to support less spending publicly while winning major government cash for their district/region/pet cause. Rand Paul had a good point last night: how can you write the military a blank check and call yourself a conservative? Conservative politicians also vilify undocumented immigrants publicly, while privately they look the other way when their big business donors support undocumented foreign labor to take advantage of paying lower wages (Dems look the other way in order have a larger voting block). During Bush 43’s admin, repubs controlled Congress for a short time, but they did nothing about this issue. They did nothing because they most likely received gobs of campaign money on the condition of leaving things the way they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Graham, if you have missed so much of what you heard from those people in the running, there is no hope at all of any real understanding. I suppose I’ve said my piece on this too many times already, to no avail. Oh well…

    Like

  6. CH Glover, Its been a while for me to “get back on the net” and catch up with the blogs due to my RIP into Egypt. So, as always, I enjoy how you “poke the bear” with your articles – so let me “poke” as well and see how far this debate can go: In my opinion, I think the entire political system is in shambles. I believe both parties are loosing their way – their “cliche paths”. I agree conservatism is going down the toilet with what is running for President, but I would argue. . Liberalism is turning to Socialism. Of course the media is playing their part – driving that wedge between the two parties making it almost difficult for an American voter to make an informed decision. I firmly believe American voters are asking each other, “Is there a third party out there?” The others that have commented make great arguments to this debate, so I ask, any thoughts on this? Is there a “savior” party out there? Am I right or wrong about what the parties turning into? Finally, how – as a voter – hit the “reset button” on the government?

    Like

    1. Jamie, first of all, welcome “home”, even if that home is in a far off land! Ha!

      Completely agree on your assessment of both conservatism and liberalism. I think my article from yesterday on liberalism highlights that.

      I’m not even sure there is a huge difference between the parties anymore. Ideologies are different, but not so much the parties themselves.

      There is certainly no savior party out there. And I have no idea how to reset things. One way, that will certainly get no traction, I think, is to severely limit the amount of money individuals and PACs can raise/spend. I also like the election model that the UK uses. Thoughts?

      Like

    2. Hi, Jamie.

      As one who worked in independent politics for a period of time, it is frustrating. The two parties have the press locked up and control the entire dialog. the internet may, eventually, make a difference but I’m not sure it is a substitute for free press. Rapid info has made it difficult for people to wait for an analysis of a situation.

      Things I experience(d):

      1) A party prepared and written release handed to a major newspaper and printed under a reporter’s byline. Both Republicans and Democrats can and will do this. Other parties cannot – been tried.
      2) County freeholders and municipal councils ignoring public comments. I don’t mean simply having made the backroom deal and going through the motions. I mean actually dozing, yawning, walking away without negative reports appearing in the press despite “reporters” sitting in the room. I’ve seen this happen in majority Democrat and majority Republican chambers.
      3) Where I live, it’s small and many positions run unopposed. Only Republicans can be elected. Not that this is in stone, but they have a stranglehold on local press and politics. Who runs is decided by the party. Anyone the party does not like, even if that person has been a lifelong member, can put his hat in the ring only if he’s ready to run independently or, take the big risk and become a Democrat to avail himself of funding. The minute he does either, he can never go back to the cigar and poker game where the business is done.

      Now, take these issues up levels in government, even more distant from voters…

      I don’t look for a savior. I weigh the proposed policies, figure on their chances of success, and look to see if I think they will work in the interests of me, my family, my neighbors or if they play to interests way outside my own. Most of all, I look to see what someone will actually do, not how the person will posture, bluster, or pander. Will this person feed the hungry, house the homeless, fill the potholes, fix the bridges, provide support services so women don’t come to believe abortion is a viable option? Or will it be supply sider markteering that might trickle down in jobs to solve these issues (but historically has not)?

      Like

      1. CH, Although the UK process does seem more effective emplacing someone in power, I doubt they would be adopted as our own as hlewis highlighted above – money making the world go around. Hlewis: I totally see how money, sponsorship, and loyalty of the media groups is the way to get elected here in the US, however, YOU, are an informed voter. YOU do your homework and choose the right person (in your eyes of course) to do the job. I would be tickled to death if you habits of choosing the next President could be quantified across the Country. THAT is the problem with the media. I feel its very hard to get that word out – which is why I bring up the “reset” button. CH Glover can tell you this as well: It is hard for Soldiers like us to see the people elect our next Commander-in-Chief when it the time comes. Now, I will never talk down on my Commander-in-Chief (because that is just unprofessional), but I would point out it would be nice to see American Voters take the Military into consideration when they vote someone in. To make an analogy: I take the inherit trust the American people have in us VERY seriously. I’m a Non Commissioned Officer, more specifically, I am a Platoon Sergeant in the US Infantry currently deployed. I have 30 Soldiers in my PLT. That means, 30 sets of families – although they don’t know me personally – give me the inherit trust to properly train their family members, to ensure their welfare, morale, and safety are maintained, and to see them returned home. IF it happens that I loose a Soldier, I don’t want to be that leader to tell that family “He died because I failed him”. So – do get to the point – I would hope that trust is reciprocated when voting for my Commander-in-chief. That trust saying “This guy will lead you well, he will look after your interest, and he will take care of you.” I could go on and on about voting the right guy in, but to tie in to the theme of the article, someone like you Hlewis, looks for the values that ALL Americans can agree on, add a little values of your own, and vote for that guy. . which is the way voting SHOULD be. How do we quantify that with the current rhetoric going on today?

        Like

Comments are closed.