January 13, 2006

A Progressive’s Look at Conservatism

As you probably know by now, I’m a liberal. Yes, I’m a liberal and proud of my liberal ideals. I prefer to characterize myself as ‘progressive’ (which is really the same thing) because the root of the word ‘progressive’ is progress. I’d like to think that my political leanings are that of progressing into the 21st century.

But I don’t want to talk about Liberals this time. This time I want to talk about Conservatives. I want to talk about Conservatism, what I think it’s all about, and where Conservatism is today. Inherent in the concept of Conservatism is to conserve. But what are they conserving?

Smaller Government

Conservatives will tell you they believe in smaller government. They believe that government has become too big and therefore should be cut down in size. And by cutting down the size of government, of course less taxes will be required. So, conservatives also believe in….

Tax Cuts

Conservatives want to conserve their own earnings. That’s really the essence of true conservative ideology. However, what we have in existence today is not true conservatism. What we have today is neo-conservatism, and that’s quite far from what true conservatism is all about.

To some extent I do respect the true conservative ideals. I agree that government should be less bureaucratic in order for business to function efficiently. However, I also believe that government has a role, and indeed a responsibility, to protect both the people and the environment, with regulation. Without governmental oversight, business would be left to self-regulate, and history has proven that they won’t do that.

The problem is - business does not self-regulate, because regulation has a cost, and higher costs mean less profit. Business of course doesn’t want anything impeding their profit. Theoretically, the more profit business can make, the better it is for the economy. That’s all well & good if it leads to American jobs. However, all too often, business out-sources their jobs overseas, again in an effort to maximize profit, which effectively negates the economic benefits, particularly when they’re cooking their books to pay little or no taxes.

The neo-conservative ideal is for less regulation (none if possible) so that business can maximize profits. But, what about our environment? Doesn’t it matter how much pollution is being released into our air and water? Not to the neo-conservatives. They’re concerned with earning their profits, keeping their money, and little else.

There has to be a balance between helping business make their profits, and protecting the environment & the citizens’ well-being. As a progressive (a Liberal), I’m extremely concerned with the environment, worker’s rights and consumer’s rights & safety. I believe the government needs to regulate business to protect the people, because it’s not in business’ interest to regulate themselves.

Sharing the Wealth

Conservatives believe in the ‘lifting myself up by my bootstraps’ theory of hard work leading to life’s rewards. To a certain extent, I believe there’s merit to that concept. However, I also believe that there are pressures, stresses and expectations imposed on many people beyond their control, and our society imposes requirements on people that in many cases are unrealistic. Often times Mother Nature’s wrath imposes catastrophic consequences on people. For whatever reason, there are people who need help. Those people should not be cast aside, ignored, and left for scrap for the sake of wealthier people to make and keep their profits.

I believe it’s government’s responsibility to share the wealth of our country, help the needy, and protect the citizens. Protect the citizens not just from terrorists, but from predatory business practices. Protect the environment from polluters. Protect our rights, our freedom, and our liberties.

The neo-conservative ideal is to gut the ‘New Deal’ which was a bastion of helping the needy by sharing the wealth in America. We help the elderly with Social Security & Medicare because not everyone was wealthy enough to amass great fortunes to sustain themselves in their waning years. We help the disadvantaged because not everyone was fortunate enough to partake of life’s advantages. We help those who have suffered hardship from devastating illness, birth defects, economic setback, or extenuating circumstances.

Many of us lost jobs that were eliminated due to the recession or shipped overseas to cut costs. Many of us lost our spouses, or our spouse’s ability to be a breadwinner, from injuries sustained serving our country or on the job. Many of us were born into situations of limited means or support, or skin color not conducive to affluence.

Sure, we like to help those who help themselves. We’d rather teach someone to fish instead of giving them a fish. And I agree – if the recipient is able to learn how to fish, we shouldn’t just keep giving them fish. But not everyone is able to learn how to fish. Conservatives feel like the ‘needy’ are living off of them, and I wouldn’t debate that there are those perpetually on welfare who fit that categorization. However, that does not preclude our responsibility for domestic programs to help those who truly need it.

Have you looked at Bush’s budget? If your ideals are neo-conservative, pray you’re never one of the needy.


Post a Comment

<< Home