Progressives and Conservatives – we aren’t as alike as many of the big tent thinkers on either side would have you believe. These are the true philosophies that identify most political agendas and it would be difficult to sit in the middle of these two ideologies and be able to accomplish much of anything.
I had heard on a radio show the other day a caller explaining what he felt the difference between liberal and Conservative were. He expressed that Conservatives fundamentally view humanity as flawed and therefor when that person falls down, we have to help that person realize his weakness and guide them on the path to getting stronger – help him to help himself. The caller continued by saying that liberals think of all people as basically good, so anything that happens to them must be the fault of someone or something else and society must then rally together to change the other person or entity so that no one else could find themselves in the same situation.
I certainly get why how this person formed the theoretical difference. If a liberal sees someone with too much school debt, they feel that society should be rescuing them from a system that took advantage of them (a public school system in most cases). A Conservative might have said, well since you didn’t work during college, chose an expensive school and decided to live on campus instead of at home, I guess you get to pull up those boot straps, live on Ramen noodles, buy a beater to get to work, and get yourself a cheap apartment while you pay off the debt you CHOSE to take on. A clear defining characteristic is personal responsibility.
The battle lines have traditionally been drawn as liberal vs. Conservative, Republican vs. Democrat- neither is the reality. It’s a clear line between Conservative and progressive – and it’s a line we should be accentuating.
Liberal vs. Conservative gets into social issues that fracture both sides of the trenches. Abortion vs. Right-to-life, Government-run health care or not, amnesty or defend the border, etc. All of these issues are where moderate liberals and Conservatives move left and right in election years.
If we change the battle to Democrat vs. Republican the common perceptions are big labor (unions) vs. big business (corporations). Sure, all the usual arguments come out: Unions don’t create jobs – they get them sent overseas -or- Corporations don’t care about you. While the chamber of commerce would certainly favor a GOP-led Congress and the AFL-CIO would prefer Dems, voters don’t tend to define themselves along the same lines. Years ago, when I used to identify as a Republican, I didn’t do it because I wanted Kraft to get some government gift or for Intel to get a pat on the head from Dick Armey. I doubt most Democrat voters pulled the lever to the left just to support Andy Stern’s corrupt little band of morons.
That leaves the true battlefield: progressives vs. Conservatives. This is the feud that’s been raging since the early 20th century in America and has been present since pre-revolutionary times (Federalists vs. anti-Federalists) – To have a strong central Federal government or not. The State’s rights battle that spilled over into a civil war was fought along these lines, and today we identify our politics the same way.
For Conservatives, the identity is strong today. The grass-roots Tea Party organizations have made the cause clear: smaller government, adhere to the most-strict interpretation of the Constitution, keep taxes low. Basically, Conservatives want as little government as can be accomplished while maintaining the Republic. Specific issues are decided upon this basic set of ideas which creates a concrete foundation to build upon.
For progressives the core ideology is muddier – the cause and effect of it are different. Instead of a core set of principles upon which the forge their position on issues, it’s social issues that push them into a similar ideology. Some left-wing groups want renewable energy, others want government health care, another group would push for government-provided houses, and yet another would push to have the government force us to eat or drink certain things – all of them end up causing the same thing: a much larger central government and reduced individual liberties – perhaps even a change in the type and purpose of government. There’s the line.
The major challenge for progressive leaders has alway been to get their many groups of disparate radicals to come together at election time. This year may be a fine example of their challenge. Only one group of leftist extremists got their agenda addressed – health care. They aren’t even happy because there wasn’t enough government in the solution that passed – no single-payer or public option. Other groups: environmentalists, peace activists, pro-Palestinians, community housing reformers, etc .. got nothing. That will sting at the polls in November.
That was the purpose of the One Nation indoctrination .. er .. rally on October 2nd, 2010 – to get them all to vote Democrat despite the fact that Democrats cannot possibly achieve their disjointed agendas.
As Conservatives we must remain united on the core principles while we may differ on some issues built around that core. We must always remain vigilant on some basic ideals:
Drastically Reducing the Size and Scope of Government
We should be wary of any candidate for Federal office that promises more help or entitlements from the government. While the government must do certain things: common defense, enablement of trade, performing the census – the Federal government does not need to be building local libraries, museums, statues, funding cow fart studies and the like. That’s for State and local government to handle. John Doe for Mayor – he’ll keep cow farts local.
Adhere to a Strict Interpretation of the Constitution
While the Constitution has its issues, (welfare clause anyone?), it is a fundamentally sound document. It limits the power of each of the branches of government. When listening to candidates promise things, test it against the protections in the Bill of Rights and the constraints of government found throughout the document.
Reduction of Taxes
As much as the progressives would love to have us believe that by increasing taxes, we can reduce the National debt – nothing is further from the truth. If we give Congress more money, they will spend it. Heck, even though we haven’t given them as much as they’ve wanted to spend, they’ve spent that too by robbing Social Security and putting our nation so deep in debt that the the way out is getting harder and harder to see. They only way to make Congress fiscally-responsible is to stop enabling them – take away the checkbook.
There are ramifications of the Conservative agenda on social policy, but don’t expect to hear it out of a politician’s mouth prior to the mid-terms. To insure a healthy majority in Congress, through which we can achieve many of our other goals, we must unite around these core ideals while the progressives argue over why their individual agendas never made it to Congress.