Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elements of Conservatism

Winston Churchill said that a young man who is not a liberal lacks a heart, and that an old man who is not a conservative lacks a mind. I have reason to challenge this claim. I have known kind-hearted young people who were conservatives, and I have known brilliant older people who were liberals. As a man in his prime who votes Democratic, I would like to advise Democrats on how they can sway people who are attracted to conservatism.

There are some who are attracted to conservatism for its promise of economic opportunity. Others are attracted to conservatism because they are patriots or because they are Christians. And then there are jerks who want to batter their wives or beat up on immigrants and gays.

The first group is the most reasonable one, and one that should be the easiest to work with. These people should be reminded of recent history, which is that American economy thrived – and fiscal sanity was achieved – under Clinton, whereas American economy tanked – and budget was busted – under Bush. The Democratic Clinton administration gave America its greatest period of peace and prosperity as well as the only balanced budget in 40 years; whereas the Republican Bush administration gave America its worst economic crisis since Great Depression and a completely unnecessary extra $5 trillion in debt. With Hillary Clinton as the Democratic front-runner, there is a promise of restoration of the successful Clinton economic policies and a return to the prosperity of 1990s.

The patriots should likewise be taught a lesson in history. America's greatest ever military victory – in the Second World War – was under the Democratic FDR administration. America became the greatest country in the world in early 20th century – the Progressive Era – the time that combined economic and technological innovation with union movement, feminism and environmentalism. As for claims that Clinton was un-patriotic or that he stood for America's weakness, nothing could be further from the truth. Clinton stood for win-win scenarios. Clinton wanted America to do well; he also wanted to extend prosperity and liberty to the rest of the world. That stance, I regard as true good; and indeed under Clinton America was by far the world's wealthiest country of any size, whereas under Bush it dropped to #10. As to the people on the Left who are actually anti-American, the more experienced Democrats should teach them patriotism – mainly by showing what life is like in places such as Afghanistan, and how much better it is in a country that has had the influence of Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Ted Roosevelt, Susan Anthony and Martin Luther King. There are many in Christian Right who hate America for real while claiming to wear the flag; but, with the exception of an occasional slip-up (such as Pat Robertson claiming 9-11 to have been the case of God removing his protective umbrella over America) they are smart enough not to give voice to such sentiments.

With the Christians, it is important to remind them of what Christianity actually means. A Christian is meant to forgive sins. A Christian is meant to love the next person. A Christian is meant to accept as his neighbor the people from hostile tribes who are willing to do the right thing, as was the case in the story of the Good Samaritan. All these are values held by Democrats much more than they are held by Republicans.

Finally, the people who want to batter their wives or to beat up on gays or immigrants should not be welcome in the Democratic Party at all. They should be dealt with in the same way in which the Republicans dealt with the ghetto blacks and the hippies. They should be shamed out of the political discourse, and they should be treated as criminals.

The Reagan coalition, like the FDR coalition before that, is a collection of elements that are incongruous with each other and that should not be a part of a single political force. The Democrats have the capacity to reach out to these elements and convince them that it works in their interest to work with the Democrats instead of remaining a part of the Reagan coalition.


Post a Comment

<< Home