San Diego — Following the results of the 2012 elections, there seems to be panic in the ranks of Republicans. How, they ask and rightly so, can a failed president whose every promise was not kept including unemployment numbers, GDP numbers, debt reduction numbers, ALL OF THEM worse than when he took office, have so soundly beaten the GOP candidate who was a successful businessman?
Hand wringing, blame laying, all are happening to the amusement of the liberals who are opining that there is an impending “civil war” among Republicans and that the party is as out of touch with reality as the Whig party was when it collapsed of its own obsolescence. But is all of it, including the obituaries for conservatives, deserved or justified? In the aftermath of the election, spurred on by questions from several friends, I’ve given it a lot of thought.
In the process I have re-read (for the umpteenth time) the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which I believe need to be treated as a necessarily conjoined set of documents). I’ve re-read some of the important documents from our history and our founders including those of Locke, Burke, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Franklin, Lee, Henry, and down to Lincoln. Those are the patriarchs Conservatives claim as foundational authorities so have to be consulted to review the situation properly.
I’ve spent the last few days digging into my library of books by and about those (to me) visionaries. It has been enlightening. The result is I think in far too many cases, so-called Conservatives have failed to live under and up to the teachings of those founders they claim to revere.
First it has to be understood that there is a HUGE difference between the main-stream Republican Party and the core “Conservative” principles. I tend now to agree that the Republican Party, as it has come to be, is a dinosaur whose extinction days are passed and it just hasn’t caught on.
While the Democrats pine for a world of the future that, despite a number of serious attempts, has never successfully existed, the Republicans (note I did NOT say “Conservatives”) pine for a world of the past that too, never existed and if it did, it was long ago and for a very short time. Both parties fondly embrace a world view that succeeds only for the delusional or the blind partisan, a view that refuses to see, much less accept the world as it now is and as it has historically (in fact not fantasy) existed and evolved into the present.
I do not think that facing reality as it is, not as we want it to be, is inconsistent with being Conservative. It is the core ethics and principles of the founders that we hold close, not the way some have applied (or misapplied) those principles in political environments that differ substantially and critically from the political environment today, nor, for that matter, how even the founders themselves had to apply them in THEIR reality and with their knowledge level of the world and even of their own country.
To avoid the fact that our world, in nearly all respects, is a very different place by nearly every possible measurement than it was 50 years ago, much less in the 1700s; or to assert that even a genius such as Jefferson, could, from the knowledge base and reality of the late 1700s, accurately have predicted the world of the 21st century is also simply delusional. Technology and geopolitical events are pushing us so rapidly that this is not even the world of Kennedy or Reagan. (I link those two names because Reagan was a Kennedy Democrat who actually never changed his philosophy and whose speeches were vintage JFK. It was the party that changed.)
But if, due to a world in evolution or even revolution, the application’s needs have changed, must we also change the principles? This is a crux and unavoidable question. If it turns out that we cannot learn and adjust those core principles to demonstrate their application to OUR world, then there are only two explanations possible: They do not apply anymore or we are simply not yet able to see the answers. Or, a third possibility, we see them and will not accept them.
Speaking for myself, I believe they DO apply and that the explanation for our poor application and articulation is in our own shortsightedness, not in shortfalls of the principles themselves.
We don’t even have to like all of the changes this new world has laid in our laps – change is always painful and avoided as long as possible — but we do have to acknowledge those changes and face them as a new and powerful reality that must be accommodated by and within our principles or they will crush us under the weight of the changing world. As Will Rogers said, “Even if you are on the right track, if you just sit there you will get run over!”
So what changes are influencing this discussion? One of the big ones, in some ways perhaps the most important one because unlike anal discussions of policies (which OUGHT to be the focus) it is highly visible and highly emotional in its impact, is a change in the national and regional demographics on several counts.
For one thing, it is noteworthy that the numbers of people of Hispanic origin are making up an increasing portion of our population and cannot be ignored in a political sense. The same is true of an increasing Asian population. But despite the differences upon which we too often focus, the real question is, are they, by nature, opposed to the core values of conservatives? I don’t think so.
Hispanic culture is all about families and faith at its core. No one can watch field workers and claim they do not have a work ethic! Good grief, it is a powerful work ethic that will take them to strange lands, abusive environments, and truly back-breaking labor just to feed a family and try to elevate their status in one of the few countries where that is still possible. What they want is opportunity and a fair shake. If conservatives fail to grasp that, they are being idiotic and self-destructive. And much can be noted similarly about refugees or immigrants from Asian countries.
It is true that the political cultures from which they are fleeing often were ones deeply rooted in patronage and corruption. But those are not core values and most Hispanic and Asian people come here to get away from it. We ought to understand and embrace their plight and then seek ways to make it work so that they will become, like my father-in-law was, a rabidly patriotic naturalized citizen.
But it is not as easy as simply opening the border to all that would like to come here. Our economy is in a very rocky state and I think, following the election, it is bound to get far, far worse before it gets better. To deny that immigration is linked to an effect on the economy in both good and bad potential ways is to exhibit both historical and economical naïveté. If we cannot protect our borders and set immigration rules as the Constitution mandates then we really do not have a country at all. I know some would prefer that, including our leader, but I personally do not.
A nation, a people, a country is defined by borders, language and culture. That is certainly how the rest of the world’s countries define themselves so why should we exclude ourselves? Still, no one can deny that our immigration policies are a shambles and that they neither protect us from the bad guys nor aid the good guys in coming on in. Consequently I think it is a very Conservative view to push for immigration reform and acknowledgement of the good guys who have come here to better themselves and contribute to our prosperity while working to get the system under control.
But, and in this regard this is a critical question, have we as a people, much less we who claim to hold to Conservative Principles, become so dumbed down that we are incapable of recognizing both sides of the issue as having legitimate points; incapable of finding the common ground that will allow a solution even if it is, as are all solutions settled by humans, imperfect?
And immigration was not the only problem for our side. Why on earth did we allow ourselves to be viewed as on one side or the other of issues of sexual orientation? Jefferson said if it was not “breaking his leg or picking his pocket” he could deal with it. Regardless of any personal views on homosexuality, it is a fact of life and, of more importance to this discussion, an increasingly active political bloc. In and of itself it does not threaten violence or theft of my person or any of my rights (or any of yours) so what has some of us so intransigent and terrified of it?
Our choices are simple: to slam the door on them because we may think they are lost to eternity and God hates them, and in so doing make of them a dangerous enemy force, or to re-examine the principles we say we hold dear and find a way to accommodate their numbers in our tent. I think the latter is a better approach.
Being in my business I’ve known and worked with LOTS of openly homosexual folks: some were true salt of the earth types I trusted totally and liked very much and others were jerks I thoroughly disliked. But I never noticed that dichotomy to be lacking in the straight world too… and I did NOT notice it being something predicated by a person’s orientation or life style.
And even if some of our ranks believe God hates them individually because of their orientation, that is an issue between God and them; it is NOT between us and them. “Judge not lest ye be judged!” goes the Biblical directive. If there is indeed a theological component to our side then why are some of us not adhering to their own text’s directive? We need to get that entire discussion OUT of politics and leave it where it belongs: between an individual and their own conscience and belief system. We need not prohibit it, but we also need not facilitate it. Government should be silent on it.
I confess, I have a simple but strong semantic issue with what to me is a contradiction in terms: “Same Sex Marriage.” But upopn serious reflection I realize that is because it affronts the language and definitions by which I was raised. However I also study history and the truth is that the definition of marriage as I was taught to understand it, has but rarely been the definition used across the ages and across cultures.
And the big point is, to lose a powerful block that as seekers of individual rights ought to be flocking to a conservative tent, but are being driven away over a word, and a word of historically fairly recent re-definition at that, is truly cutting off our nose to spite our face! And in the end does not solve ANY problem and simply leaves us disfigured.
The same can be said for any minority group even if that status exists only in their own mind. Just as WE hate to be painted with the brush of association colored by the idiots in our own groups, we should not be painting their whole collection of possible voters with the same brush we use for the jerks and idiots that also share their skin color or gender or place of origin or whatever they use to set themselves apart from the main collection of Americans. To do so, in my opinion, does violence to the principles we claim to hold dear.
Jefferson wrote that we were endowed with certain unalienable rights, rights not granted by government but by our creator, meaning, even to atheists, rights inherent in the human spirit regardless of where they came from. But if we allow those rights to be limited by definitions that ONLY exist due to theological authority, then we are violating our own sacred Constitution. I cannot help that the use of the term bothers me, but I CAN help what I do about it based on my reading of history and the words of the founders, comfortable or not.
We are supposed to see people as individuals not just through the filter of whatever group we can easily toss them into. It is the other side that forces group separation and identification in order to create group dependence. We are not supposed to be forcing group identification so that we can create group exclusions. In fact, we are not supposed to be facilitiating much less forcing group identification at all!
Conservatives are supposed to treasure the individual and individual rights. But that is not what unfortunately too many of our political side do. And they do their hypocritical deeds and speeches vocally and stridently. So how is it any wonder that members of those targeted groups, already looking for some, any excuse to cast stones in our direction, see us as haters and bigots and to be opposed at every turn when we play into the other side’s perfectly laid traps.
From our own ranks we too often spout psychology from before even the dawn of Freud and pseudoscience from the dawn of man and wonder why people will not flock to our standard. No matter how impeccable the logic, if it flows from a faulty premise the result is not viable.
We should be the party of dynamic powerful women who make up half our population and probably more than half of our brainpower. How can we exhort the undefined individual to be all they can be and yet still be OK with people wanting to pay women less for equal work? Or still wanting to control stuff that is none of our, or the government’s business?
We have not had someone sufficiently articulate to simply explain that to us, equal pay for equal work is the same as equal work for equal pay — what is fair is fair. Nor have we been able to articulate that it is not that we are saying they cannot have an abortion if that passes muster with them, their faith, and whatever other influences are in their life, we are simply saying we don’t want to pay for their choices… so long as it IS truly a choice. I do not think (with EXTREMELY RARE and anamalous exceptions) that rape is ever a woman’s choice. And the idiot that proposed a long outdated and invalidated theory that women cannot get pregnant if they don’t want to should have been tarred and feathered by every Conservative to hear of their idiocy if we want to show women we are on their side.
But again, government should be OUT of the abortion issue, out of the contraception issue, out of the bedroom entirely. Just as it has no business prohibiting it, it has no business facilitating it either.
We focus on the parasites and self-proclaimed victims of our society, and God knows we obviously have more than enough of them; facilitated and perhaps perpetuated by the liberal world in an attempt to create a sufficiently powerful voting block of dependent personalities needing their “fix” of goodies at the government trough. We look disparagingly at those who leapt at takers of house loans no one marginally sentient could have thought were likely to be repaid, and I think that scrutiny is proper and needs to root such activities out of existence because of its contribution to our current economic situation.
But in high-centering on that negative bunch of wanton losers, we overlook the poor wretches who have truly been blind sided by life through no real fault of their own. Or worse, we lump them in with the losers. We need to review our thinking to be able to recognize not only those against whom their physical or mental state of health has conspired, but those against whom this unneeded economical disaster has conspired as well. We focus on the fraudulent and ignore that in more than a few of the debacles involving home loans, the individual was unsure or uncomfortable with the deal but was pushed into it by overzealous and corrupt agents that claimed to be trustworthy to people unequipped by experience or education to grasp the truth of it. No one wakes up some morning and wants to be physically or mentally sick or wants to lose their jobs, much less their homes, due to economic downturns or fraudulent sellers.
There are therefore, people in our society who are suffering through minimal or no fault of their own and as a generous people we have a duty to help them. Don’t read into this something that isn’t here: i did not say they had a RIGHT to our help, I said we have a duty to help them and that is a very different thing. The question is what institution should be in charge of that help. Should it come, for example, from the individual and/or private organizations dedicated to the task, or from the government dedicated to creating dependencies to assure re-election and the continuance of power?
If we, as Conservatives, truly believe it is the former, and we have any expectation of convincing those concerned about social justice that we are right, then we need to demonstrate that as best we can and also demonstrate and articulate how it is working to actually provide that help and, further, that it is working better than the government can do. And even if we decided that the best collection point of monies for charitable use was via the government, who on earth can argue that government bureaucracy is likely to administer it best? You have to live in some parallel universe to believe that. From the Post Office to FEMA to the state’s DMV, who can point to a single governmental “business” that is run more efficiently and productively than is done as a private business?
So yes, I think our side needs to make some major changes in the application of the principles they claim to hold dear, especially in how they interact with the rest of our citizenry. They need to show that they actually believe in and mean to uphold the principles they espouse and the documents and texts they cite as authority whether it is the Constitution or some sacred text.
If Conservatives will do that, and both articulate and demonstrate them well, then we can show the other side for the disingenuous, dependency creating charlatans they are. And THEN we can get to a discussion of the real issues and policies upon which an election ought to turn because we have taken the warm and fuzzy off of the table by the simple expedient of solving it.
But if we can’t – or won’t – adapt, then we will go the way of the Whigs and Tories and justifiably so. And if that happens, it will be because all of those despicable labels hurled at us will have enough reality to them to stick and crush us.
And if we continue to let enough of the jerks in our ranks act like stupidly and callously… and get away with unacceptable comments or actions just because they are holding our banner… then by facilitating the hatred and bigotry, whether or not we individually share in it, we will surely deserve the results. I believe those rotten apples are comparatively few in numbers but it doesn’t take very many of them under the heat of the media’s spotlight, to result in spoiling the barrel for us all.
The problem is I believe those devastating, perhaps catastrophic results for our country, results that I believe are facilitated by and sometimes pushed by Liberals as noted in previous posts, results that i believe will be so onerous in the end for all citizens as the U.S.A. slides toward the necropolis of history, will have to be laid at OUR feet because we were the ones that could have stopped it and chose, rather, fettered by a minority collection of individual weaknesses rather than freed by a majority collection of individual strengths, to stab our own principles in the heart.
And who could ever be proud of that?