After listening to me rant about the madness of Conservatives in America, my VA psychiatrist quietly said, “You are conservative. Very conservative.”
After I spluttered and gasped for a while, I thought about what he said. He was absolutely right.
I live in a modest house. I drive a modest car at modest speeds. I obey traffic laws, including speed limits, as a matter of course.
I do not wear flamboyant clothes. I dress for comfort and utility. My needs are modest and easily satisfied. I am warm, well fed, and comfortable. I see no reason to pursue wealth or fame for their own sakes.
I take responsibility for my own actions. I dispose of my trash where trash belongs and return as much of it as possible for reuse. I prefer not to waste.
I am somewhat resistant to change, especially change for no reason except It’s New! Improved!
I proudly claim my state’s long time motto: I am from Missouri. You will have to Show Me. I am not easily swayed by fancy words; I require evidence.
I ruined my first marriage. I take responsibility for helping this one to succeed. It is succeeding. This makes my happy.
Although I often fail, it is always my objective to address other people with at least a modicum of courtesy, and to reason rather than insult in discussions.
I give of what I have to those who have less.
I try to live by my religious beliefs and leave others to do the same.
I do not think that humans are perfectable. I think that each of us is forever flawed and can only do our best with what we have.
I believe that the United States Constitution is sufficient to provide the framework for a workable, liveable republic. I don’t think it is the only framework that could work, but it’s the one we have, and we’ve been trying to operate under it for a long time, and I think it is overall satisfactory and should continue to be our framework. I can think of a couple ways it might be amended to improve its function, but not unless or until some semblance of sanity and meaning becomes again ascendant in our nation’s political life.
I believe that many problems can be solved, or at least ameliorated, but that solving or addressing them requires clear thought and reasoned discussion.
I recognize that, for at least 300 years, since the early works of Isaac Newton, humans have used a structured thought process which we call “science” in a serious, ongoing attempt to understand the world and universe we live in and thereby to improve our lot within it.
I believe that language is the fundamental tool which allows for humanity to flourish, and that honesty and courtesy are the twin lubricants which enable us to work and live together. But no, honesty does not require that you tell your wife she looks fat in that dress. That is the “courtesy” part. We conservative people know that extremes are very dangerous.
I believe that perfection is an unattainable goal. All things, all people, all constructs, all ideas are forever and inevitably imperfect. Only the universe is perfect, because by existence it defines perfection. This entire paragraph outlines an assumption; I can’t prove any of it.
That said, I seek perfection in the things that I do, comfortable in the knowledge that when I fall short I will have the very best I am capable of.
I am a conservative person.
That is why I am so outraged by this thing in America that has taken the title of Conservatism to itself. Or sometimes “Movement Conservatism”.
Movement Conservatives are agitating for a Constitutional Convention. The foundation document on which the United States has been based since its inception is not good enough for them. They want to throw it out and change it.
I could end this essay right here, although I’m not going to. Real conservative humans oppose needless change, change for no reason. These people have the unmitigated gall to call themselves Conservatives and yet they propose to throw away the very foundation on which 250 years of Americans have built a reasonably functional republic. Whatever they are they are not conservative. There has never been a more radical proposition.
People who claim to be Conservatives want to inject their religion into the governance of the United States of America and into the governance of the various States therein. This would be a change as radical as when the Puritans departed England to create a theocratic society on a continent then occupied by other people. It wasn’t an accident that this experiment resulted in, among other things, so-called witches being burned and drowned. It was inevitable. It is the absolute opposite of conservative to be advocating such madness today.
Conservative people are satisfied with enough. Warm, well fed, educated, and left alone, a conservative person will go on with his and her life largely unnoticed, accomplishing those things which matter to him or her. The Koch brothers are not conservative. They are radical anarchists, using their vast, largely inherited wealth in an attempt to destroy the government of the United States because it imposes modest limitations on their ability to acquire ever more money and power.
Paul Ryan is not conservative. I don’t know what motivates him, although he does proudly proclaim his fealty to fiction writer Ayn Rand and her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. If you have never read it, Atlas Shrugged is an unabashedly anarchist novel in which the Good Guys, at the end, create a non-governed Utopia where everybody just does good and treats each other fairly without any rules or umpires and life is perfect. In its own way it is similar to Karl Marx’s fictional Worker’s Utopia. Marx, too, predicted that under his proposed system the State would “wither away.” That one didn’t work either. Ryan is an anarchist attempting to destroy the United States government. Unlike the Koch brothers it’s not obvious what he has to gain by it. I suspect, but do not know, that he believes if he destroys our republic the Kochs and their ilk will reward him handsomely. If I were him I wouldn’t bet anything I couldn’t afford to lose on it.
When I was in high school I thought Atlas Shrugged was pretty cool. It is the sort of simplistic Utopian slush that appeals to young people, people who are first trying out independent thinking but have not yet found out how complex the real world is. For Paul Ryan, as the third highest elected official in The United States of America, to still advocate such childishness is embarrassing. To be conservative is to be realistic.
There’s a Senator from Florida, a previous presidential candidate named Marco Rubio. He’s a theocracy fan, advocating one particular offshoot of Christianity. Or no, I think he was going to two conflicting churches at once. Something. I can’t keep up with other people’s religions and don’t particularly care to try, but when Marco gets in front of a TV camera his religion comes bubbling out. It would be acceptable if he wasn’t trying to run a non-sectarian country. But he is. He claims to be a Conservative. Somebody asked him recently if his party should acknowledge the reality of science. He replied that he didn’t think he was qualified to answer that question.
Marco. We’ve been doing science for 300 years. It’s not a new thing. Us conservative people like stuff that’s been around a while and been proved useful.
I could call out each of them by name. Ted Cruz wants a government which forces all Americans to live by the dictates of his particular (different from Marco’s) extreme interpretation of Christianity. Mitch McConnell is a flamboyant phony who will tell you on Monday that Black is White, on Tuesday that it is Green, on Wednesday that it is Orange, and on Thursday that he never mentioned black or any color. The only saving grace is that he doesn’t work on Friday.
Theocratic Conservatives go to a bunch of different churches. While there is some overlap, the only important thing they agree on is the name. They call themselves Christians. But since they can’t agree on the theology, if they get religion included in our laws and government it’s likely to turn out ugly, with one group after another being the current witch to burn. Shia’a. Sunni. Amish. Methodist. Catholic. And of course the eternal scapegoat, Jew. I prefer to conserve the traditional American way: no state sanctioned religion. It is a system that has served us reasonably well for a long time now. I am, as I said, a conservative person.
All I’m going to say here about the economic lunacy which currently masquerades as Conservative doctrine is that old-line Republican George Herbert Walker Bush was absolutely right about it: he took one look and said, “Voodoo economics.” Big-C Conservative economic doctrine is just another example of their actual anarchy. It is another tool in their project to destroy the functioning government of our republic. For more on this Google “Kansas”.
These self-proclaimed Conservatives have no respect whatsoever for language or meaning. Their most egregious affront to language, though, is calling themselves Conservative. It is not just false, it is Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Jabberwocky crazy.
There is no inherent conflict between being conservative and being liberal. The entire pretense that the two are opposites is as fake as all the rest of their positions.
Liberal means open minded, open to new ideas, given to mercy and kindness. Conservative means modest living, thinking before you act, not changing things just to see them change. Look before you leap. The two characteristics actually go together quite well.
Now: I know that I can’t rehabilitate the word conservative. Like awesome and gay it is forever changed. We can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. I’m not pleased by it but I’m not that stupid, either. This word is gone. However, for just the next paragraph, for just these few seconds, I ask you to see that word and think of the conservative guy I described at the beginning, and think of the obsolete, dictionary meaning of the word conservative.
I submit that, if we are to solve any of our problems, the best way to do so would be to approach them in conservative ways with a liberal mindset.