Commentary: Conservative movement isn't 'conservative'For most of my adult life I have considered myself an economic conservative and have voted accordingly. In recent years I’ve found that there is very little that those who call themselves “conservative” and I can agree on, and I now find myself avoiding voting for most of them.
By: John Kern, The Republican Eagle
For most of my adult life I have considered myself an economic conservative and have voted accordingly. In recent years I’ve found that there is very little that those who call themselves “conservative” and I can agree on, and I now find myself avoiding voting for most of them.
Here are a few things I believe a traditional conservative stands for:
1. Government should be limited primarily to those things difficult or impossible for individuals to do on their own. This historically includes:
• Public education
• Military and National Security
• Social Security, Medicare, welfare
• Transportation: Trails, rails, roads, bridges, air and space
Some would add health care to this list — that discussion is far from over.
2. Strict separation of church and state — there shall be no State religion.
3. Disdain for interference by government in most personal and moral matters.
4. “Big stick” foreign policy, utilizing military intervention only when absolutely necessary.
5. Fiscal and economic conservatism - a balanced budget.
6. Investment in infrastructure necessary for long term economic success, such as roads, bridges, schools, etc.
7. Tax fairness.
8. A willingness to take on critical, tough issues and, working with all stakeholders, including political opposition, to find common ground and sound solutions.
Contrary to the above list, here’s what this former conservative voter actually sees from today’s conservative movement:
1. Fiscal irresponsibility, the willingness to run up deficits that will be nearly impossible to pay back, ever. I know, the current president is not a conservative, but this train was on the tracks long before Obama.
2. An almost slavish commitment to the military, no matter what the cost, and a tendency to take drastic action casually, even to the extent of regularly sending unmanned drones to bomb in countries considered “friendly,” against their sovereign wishes.
We conveniently call the resulting innocent dead “collateral damage.”
3. Constant blending of church and state in attempts to impose the Christian Religious Right’s beliefs and morality upon the entire populace, regardless of the fact that a sizeable minority in this country have entirely different beliefs and religions.
Conservatives in this country seem so anxious to preserve this voting block that they regularly act like a wholly owned subsidiary of reactionary Christian groups.
4. Refusal to properly maintain and fund infrastructure, even declining to use one of the fairest possible taxes, the fuel tax, to do so. Instead, conservatives have lashed themselves to an inflexible and unrealistic “no taxes” pledge. The result is an infrastructure many years behind in maintenance and replacement, leaving us ill-prepared to compete globally.
5. A seeming willingness to take the nation “over the cliff” rather than compromise, repeatedly deferring solutions to critical issues like Social Security, Medicare, health care, the deficit, the crumbling infrastructure, etc. We are leaving our children the legacy of a country in grave economic peril.
6. Unabashed favoritism in the tax codes.
I’m not sure what one word to use to describe the conservative movement of today, but it surely isn’t “conservative.” A true conservative would place the needs of constituents, all of them, and the country above loyalty to and sheep-like following of their political party. And of course, this kind of misplaced dedication goes on with both major parties.
I don’t believe that our situation in this country is hopeless by any means, but I do think it is much more severe than most of us and our leaders are willing to admit. Our best hope as a nation depends on enough smart people being willing to speak up and drown out the cacophony of political extremists before we dig a hole so deep that we, or our children, can never climb out.