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October 11, 2006

What It Means To Be A Conservative

In response to something Charlottesvillian posted on What It Means To Be A Liberal, my off the cuff ideas on what it means (at least to me) to be a Conservative:

1. Conservatives believe that while many matters are open to debate, there are also some eternal truths. We do not believe right and wrong are flexible concepts, wholly dependent on one's frame of reference.

Like Liberals, Conservatives are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate. Moreover, we understand that in a society where people use threats or intimidation to force their views on others, enforcing the rules is needed or our rights become meaningless.

One cannot "fairly and open-mindedly consider the truths of others" if speakers are shouted down or forced off the stage, no matter how distasteful their ideas may be. The way to defeat inferior ideas is with better ideas, not with brickbats or heavy-handed threats of government censorship.

2. Conservatives believe we have an obligation to live together peaceably and tolerate each other's differences, but we have no duty to subsidize, support, or lend our approval to choices we find wrong or destructive. Responsible adults understand we must all make our own way in life. While we have no right to interfere with the lives of our neighbors, they have no right to reach into our pockets and ask us to pay for the consequences of lifestyle choices we find difficult to understand or approve of.

We do not ask them to change what they are doing. We only ask that they not expect us to fund lifestyles we don't agree with. Live and let live. This, to us, is the true meaning of tolerance.

3. Like Liberals, Conservatives believe individuals ought to participate in public debate. However we are not inclined to force them, or round them up like cattle come Election Day. We believe voting is an individual responsibility, and we have seen what happens when liberals load first-time voters who don't understand how to fill out a ballot, or know the names of the candidates or what they stand for, onto buses on election day to swell the ranks of Democrat voters.

These people are not stupid, but they are not prepared to vote and the nation is not well served by sending an uninformed electorate to the polls. The nation is also not well served when the parties exacerbate racial tensions at election time.

4. Conservatives see government as a social contract in which individuals freely and intelligently barter some small part of their freedoms for mutual protection from the more rapacious elements of human society. This is a factor which Liberals often forget, preferring to take the benefits of government protection while giving up none of their freedom. This is an unworkable proposition. With their inherent suspicion of all authority liberals cede too much power to the press, setting up a completely unelected and unaccountable fourth branch of government which openly defies the law with complete impunity, releasing classified information at will, blowing federal terrorism investigations, interfering with law enforcement, and defying grand juries. Liberals are fond of talking about reproductive freedom and choice, but their rhetoric conveniently ignores the fact that men have exactly zero reproductive choice:

Legally, from the point of view of a woman: the fetus is a lump of tissue which may be excised at will if she subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes no obligation or legal duty unless she chooses to accept it.

Legally, from the point of view of the man: the fetus is a human being which must be allowed to live, even if he subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes an absolute and irrevocable legal duty, regardless of his wishes in the matter.

5. Conservatives believe that justice ought to be blind. There should not be different laws for whites, blacks, Latinos, females, gays, or other demographics. We are not blind to the fact that humans can and do discriminate, but we do not believe the law should, in addition to the thousand injustices and inequalities which exist in nature, impose additional unfairness via our justice system.

How does a human system weigh unfairness? How do we compensate individuals for the hardships imposed by skin color? Gender? Nationality? What if there are offsetting factors? What then? Does that rich black kid who ends up at Harvard get the same compensation as a poor black kid from the inner city? How about the poor disadvantaged white boy from West Virginia with the alcoholic parents? Does he get nothing, just because his skin is the wrong color? Isn't that institutionalized racism? Or is it just Liberal values in action? Equal protection is often what liberals call a "code word" for making exceptions in treatment based on race or gender. Enforce the laws strictly, across the board, regardless of gender or skin color. Period.

6. Conservatives believe people have a fundamental duty to help themselves and they will be stronger and better if they develop the habit of self-reliance rather than dependence on government. We don't believe people are helped by programs that sap personal industry and initiative and undermine family bonds, as Daniel Moynihan warned in the 1960s. Rather, we prefer to see the private sector handle charitable giving, perhaps with tax incentives to encourage donation. This is a more ethical alternative to forcibly appropriating the paychecks of the more productive members of society to support less productive members, regardless of the wishes of the former.

7. Most conservatives don't wish to see entanglement of church and state either. The difference between liberals and conservatives here is that conservatives understand the purpose of Establishment Clause was to protect the free exercise of religion, not to drive all mention of God from public life. Even non-churchgoing conservatives like me are offended by the ACLU's open persecution of Christians and Christian symbology. Not every historic cross on a county or city seal amounts to state sponsorhip of religion and the miscasting of abortion as a religious debate is beyond dishonest. There are atheist liberals who oppose abortion and religious conservatives who are pro-choice. The Left's near-obsession with, and paranoia about, religion is as good a proof as any that the Party of Tolerance and Diversity, isn't.

8. Conservatives understand that our individual liberties are bound up in many of those larger societal rights liberals love to decry. Try exercising your so-called "individual" rights (your sexual freedom, perhaps?) once the city you live in has eminent domained your home right out from under your feet, a lovely court decision for which you may thank the liberal half of SCOTUS and its stunning disregard for the original, and quite plain, meaning of the Public Use clause. There is such a thing as competing interests, like the tension between freedom and security. Liberals like to argue, because we already have security, that personal freedom should somehow be unlimited. But without the former we will not long possess the latter. They are inextricably intertwined.

Our fellow humans prey on the helpless and on children and liberals (in addition to championing some very valuable causes) have also championed some pretty worthless causes like the freedom to view child pornography (which is illegal) and the freedom of ten year old girls to get abortions without their parents finding out. Personally I am not convinced a ten year old girl really needs the freedom to have sex with pedophiles. She is not a "woman" yet, so it is neither a "woman's right to choose" nor a "woman's sexual privacy" that is at issue. But apparently this shocking opinion makes me some sort of snake handling Jesus freak, though I don't attend church and am something of a libertarian.

Not all individual freedoms are worth protecting.

9. In response to the liberal statement of belief below, conservatives believe government must protect us also. What we believe, however, is that liberals often assert the rights of individuals over the collective right of society to be secure, often to a degree that is unreasonable. A good example is the NSA wiretapping brouhaha. Most Americans when polled don't object to having the NSA monitor and sample from a large number of calls. They understand the risks and they don't wholly trust the government, but they also understand the risks of inaction, and on balance they trust our own government more than they do the terrorists. Liberals, on the other hand, have allowed their dislike of this administration to lead them to make statements like "the administration is more of a danger to our freedoms than the terrorists".

The bottom line is that they may well believe that, but they don't have the right to allow their subjective doubts and fears to imperil the rest of us, and unless and until Congress is willing to call a halt to the NSA program (and so far it is not) they need to stop with the conspiracy theories. The truth is that democracy is functioning exactly as it should. They are simply outnumbered and their side didn't win the argument. Get over it.

Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, for without such protection liberalism is impossible. This, of course, is less a tenet of liberalism than a reply to those who attack liberalism. The accusation that liberals are unwilling to protect the nation from internal and external dangers is false. Because liberals respect competing values, such as procedural fairness and individual dignity, they weigh more carefully particular exercises of government power (such as the use of secret evidence, hearsay and torture), but they are no less willing to use government authority in other forms (such as expanded police forces and international diplomacy) to protect the nation and its citizens.

10. Conservatives believe there is an inherent tension between the rights of the accused and the safety of law abiding citizens. Therefore government must intelligently balance the rights of accused criminals against the rights of crime victims and ordinary citizens to be secure in their homes and on the streets. There is no liberty without security. On the extreme end of the scale, when we have liberal judges defining pedophilia as a disease and letting defendants off because they're "sorry" (there's an inconvenient truth for you), something is wrong. This is about as fair to your average liberal as tarring all conservatives with the excesses of the religious right, but it is liberal philosophy carried to the illogical extreme: individual rights trumping societal rights. Yet liberals can and do tar conservatives with that broad brush - all the time.

It's time to deep-six the overbroad generalizations. This, like most posts of its kind, is probably full of them. But it was a quick, off the cuff response on my lunch hour.

Feel free to let me have it in the comments section :)

Posted by Cassandra at October 11, 2006 12:07 PM

Comments

Great piece. I would have liked a little more about personal property rights, the 2nd Amendment and the right of self-defense...

But very nice. Thanks.

Posted by: barry at October 11, 2006 02:47 PM

I would like to get back to law blogging a bit. I miss it even though I never really know what the heck I'm writing about. But it is good for me mentally.

Oh well. Tomorrow if my brain does not explode I will be writing about the Judiciary, so we'll see.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 03:03 PM

Thank you for re-writing or re-interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Conceptually, your ideas sound so much better than the founding fathers.

Posted by: Miguel Sanchez at October 11, 2006 03:06 PM

Valid points. Enjoy your lunch.

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at October 11, 2006 04:10 PM

"7. Most conservatives don't wish to see entanglement of church and state either. The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives understand the purpose of Establishment Clause was to protect the free exercise of religion, not to drive all mention of God from public life."

Perhaps, but way too many conservatives, for far too long, have tried using "God" in such a manner as to cram it down peoples throats, pretending to moral superiority. "Getting the camels nose inside the tent" so to speak.

Posted by: Sharpshooter at October 11, 2006 04:54 PM

People pretend to a lot of things. The Constitution doesn't protect you from hurt feelings, Sharpshooter, nor from the pretensions of other people.

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a liberal, smart guy.

He said essentially the same thing you did, but I pointed out that feelings of having religion forced on you aren't the same thing as religious persecution, and he had to agree that I was right :) And also that most people are completely unable to distinguish between government action and private action - IOW, you are not protected by the Constitution from many things we find personally unpleasant in life.

I find Jehovah's Witnesses intensely annoying. But the Constitution doesn't protect me against them - I still need to find the gumption to tell them "No thanks - I'm not interested". My Constitutional rights haven't been violated if they pray in public, just as my Constitutional rights haven't been violated by that obnoxious Piss Christ. It's the same concept, as little as liberals want to admit it.

It's only when GOVERNMENT tries to make you participate in religion, or openly favors one religion over another in some way, that the Establishment Clause kicks in. That was the purpose - to keep GOVERNMENT from establishing an official state church. That doesn't mean no one can ever mention God, or that we should pretend we haven't celebrated Christmas for 200+ years in America. That's just plain dumb.

That isn't establishing Christianity as the official church of the US, as long as other religions are allowed to practice too. People need to lighten the crap up here.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 05:06 PM

Thank you Harden. For dessert, I'm going to eat Miguel.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 05:09 PM

Very nicely put and fair to a fault. You write good.

Posted by: Lee Kleypas at October 11, 2006 05:21 PM

Well said Cass. Quite a nice bit of writing for just your lunch hour.

Would of taken me all day.
Cheers

Posted by: unkawill at October 11, 2006 05:32 PM

And prolly all nite too.

Posted by: unkawill at October 11, 2006 05:32 PM

Summarizing:

It's my money, I earned it
Paddle your own canoe
Volunteering is not mandatory
Keep your hands to yourself

Works for me.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 11, 2006 05:37 PM

Sharpshooter,
That is no doubt a problem with people like Jerry Falwell, who theologically speaking seems fairly mainstream, but who politically is a whackjob.

For example, you want to say that for Christianity homosexuality is a serious sin then the vast majority of Christians will agree with you. But don't think for that reason that most Christians want to boycott Disneyland for not preventing large numbers of homosexuals from walking through the gates on the same day.

The latter are a lot smaller group than most people think. The problem is that a lot of non-Christians think you can't be in the former group without also being in the latter.

Take for example this:
I'm a Christian and I support traditional marriage.

Some would take this a "shoving my God down their throats". This however is not true. Marriage is a societal construct not a legal one. The only real reason the gov't recognizes marriage at all is because society wants it to. This makes the issue of marriage a legislative one (not judicial). If put to a vote, I will vote to keep the traditional definition. If I lose that vote then it is I that am out of step with society and I will accept the new definition. I do not wish to override the will of the majority to suit "my God", (which is why I don't generally support constitutional ammendments for this issue*) I just object to others telling me that I can't bring my faith into the ballot box.


*The only ammendments I would support are ones in which it states that the issue of marriage is reserved to the legislature. Ammendments defining marriage are simply the direct results of gay marriage supporters choosing the wrong battleground and now we have a much bigger and nastier process than we should have.

Posted by: Lord Menace at October 11, 2006 05:39 PM

Quote"Most conservatives don't wish to see entanglement of church and state either." End Quote

Not that I want to sidetrack this topic but ++.


Now before I shock anybody or rile up somebodies righteous dander - I will mention I am very much in favor of God. I am especially fond of his Son and part of him who follows us around to guide us with all of the above. That being said [and as a staunch conservative Lutheran - not the insane liberal type] God gave the Church [his body to do one thing] and the Government the job to do - well whatever it is that Governments are supposed to do. If that isn't followed you end up with something like this I saw at memri tv.

http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1289

Yes that is state endorsed in Iran and Lebanon.

Man, a shiver just ran up my spine...

Somebody could say we have that here on public TV but the difference is you aren't having a Government tell you to watch it.

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at October 11, 2006 05:48 PM

Sovay once said that the goals of liberals were (I quote from memory) "Peace, prosperity, and national security," whereas the goals of conservatives were "peace, prosperity, and national security." What we disagree about is how to get there.

I'm reminded of this because, of course, I agree with most everything that would make me a "liberal" by the one list, and most everything that would make me a "conservative" by your list. Thank goodness it's possible to do so -- we do have some agreement on basic principles, or we couldn't have a coherent society.

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2006 05:56 PM

Well, and as Christ said, render unto God what is God's, and unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

He got it. There are temporal and spiritual things, and there are times when the two worlds cross. They are not wholly distinct. But we do not want the State beating us over the head with a cross. Or a Menorah. Or any other symbol.

The power of the State is great enough without adding God into the mix. That does not mean that we cannot quote God as persuasive authority. I think this is where people get confused. It just means we cannot use God as controlling authority.

That is a distinction that is lost on 99.9% of Americans - they start yelling "Church and state!" as though they'd been mind-fucked when arguing religious authority is in reality no less valid than any other moral argument in the political arena. It simply cannot be considered the last word. That's all. People really have GOT to get over this primitive fear and superstition regarding religion.

I ante up with Jesus Christ. Fine. You counter with Descartes. Or Nietschze. Or Satan. Or Buddha. Or Hermann Hesse. Knock yourself out. Lose the fear. Get over yourself. If your ideas have merit, they should be able to stand on their own. What are you so afraid of?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 05:59 PM

Oh Grim - I just said exactly that at TigerHawk's, but don't tell Sovay! :) I don't want her to faint!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 06:01 PM

You guys are distracting me from that engrossing spreadsheet I'm trying to finish.

Curse you!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 06:02 PM

Feel free to let me have it in the comments section :)
Posted by Cassandra at October 11, 2006 12:07 PM

Well-written, as usual. One thing; if a particular church and/or denomination drove you away from regular attendance, you might like to try some others. Personally, I go to a Lutheran church, but consider myself (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis) merely Christian...or a Messianic Jew, even.

Posted by: camojack at October 11, 2006 06:12 PM

I probably will tell her. The girl's not really given to fainting. (If she were, it would have happened the time we went to the Smithsonian and they made her hold the screaming cockroach.)

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2006 06:24 PM

No camo. Nothing drove me away. I have authority issues, which in the Episcopal church is really scary because they are all freaking commies and anarchists anyway :p

Plus, I get emotional in church. Don't know why. I just do.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 08:15 PM

- Did hissing cockroaches get equal billing? EQUAL UNDER TH LAW! ....ok...I'm calm again....

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 12, 2006 01:09 AM

I get emotional in church. Don't know why. I just do.
Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2006 08:15 PM

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

FWIW, I've got authority issues too...one big reason I couldn't stay in the military. But as you say you're a Christian, you apparently subscribe to that particular authority. Organized religion isn't for everyone, of course, but I like the hot ember analogy...

Posted by: camojack at October 12, 2006 03:58 AM

You know, I can't recall if it was a "screaming" or a "hissing" roach, now that you mention it. It's been a while ago. :)

She was a trooper, though. I've got a photograph of her holding the thing around here somewhere. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 12, 2006 07:25 AM

[shudder]

I am not fond of cockroaches, sir. I will thank you to stop talking about yucky bugs, you big bully :)

I will rescue worms and the like if I have to, but I don't like it one bit.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 09:33 AM

Oh, I'm much worse than you know. Another of the songs I wrote for my wife -- who likewise detests roaches -- is the "Little Bitty Cockroach" song. It goes:

"Little bitty cockroach,
Crawling on the carpet,
Crawling on the wife and
Jumping in her hair!"

At the conclusion of which you ruffle at her hair fondly.

Eight or nine years ago, she really hated that. Over time, though, I've noticed that she doesn't seem to mind so much -- and that cockroaches, the very sight of which used to cause her to scream and dance, no longer bother her. So you see, it's a healing sort of evil. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 12, 2006 09:54 AM

First of all, I thought the original piece was well-written, but I was hoping a "what it means to be a conservative" would be more constructive than this. This is more a reaction to the original than something in the same vein. Now, some specific comments:

1. I claim that the people who forced the Minutemen off the stage are not liberal, because silencing opponents with violence or the threat thereof is not a liberal action. Otherwise, I agree.

2. It sounds like you're talking about gay people. Assuming this is the case and following it to its logical conclusion, would you want to withhold your tax dollars from a health care system that included gays and lesbians? Since they use the public highway system to get around, would you keep them off the road since their travel is in service of their destructive lifestyle?

3. Who is forcing people to vote?

4. The press is accountable, just like all public companies are accountable. Don't buy their products, and encourage others not to. Support media you like. They are subject to the law just as anyone else. I am with you as far as reproductive freedom goes, men should not always be forced to provide child support.

5. Affirmative action is a difficult balance to strike, and I think it is a worthy goal to try to counter 300 years of institutionalized racism with some education programs designed to help poor people. The government has been far off the mark in the past, but a better understanding of welfare programs will assist in program design in the future. You're free to disagree.

6. I prefer to see private charities handle welfare as well. As soon as it happens to my satisfaction, I would be happy to lower taxes. Tax reform could encourage charitable giving, especially among the wealthy. Confiscatory systems are inferior to voluntary ones.

7. I agree. Legally, however, many things which can be interpreted as sponsorship can be successfully challenged; I would like to see the courts be more willing to allow public displays of religion, and this might prevent the pendulum from swinging too far in the other direction.

8. I agree with you on eminent domain. But who the hell has supported child pornography? On abortion, it's a tough legal question where to draw the line. I would rather err on the side of permissiveness, however.

9. LIBERALS DO NOT OBJECT TO THE CONCEPT OF GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE. LIBERALS DO NOT OBJECT TO THE CONCEPT OF GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE. LIBERALS DO NOT OBJECT TO THE CONCEPT OF GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE. Liberals object to the fact that in the NSA program, there is no accountability. All Congress can do right now is cut off funding for the NSA. The mainstream legal system cannot rule due to the danger of exposing the operational details of the program. BUT, we have a secret court. It is called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It was created specifically to rule in secret on cases involving the collection of intelligence. They can grant warrants for such surveillance, and rarely refuse a request. If the NSA requests to do something transparently unrelated to intelligence, such as spying on the President's political opponents, the court will refuse permission. Under the status quo, there is nothing to stop the NSA from doing this. Conservatives used to think unchecked government authority was a bad thing, I thought.

10. Again, I agree with you in theory. However, in our justice system, an accuser has to present reasonable evidence that would lead one to believe the accusation was plausible; one person's say-so is not enough, even if he is the President. I agree that sentencing is too "nice" in some cases. (As a side note, pedophilia is a disease; it just happens not to have a cure other than castration. Treatment for real sex criminals is almost always useless.)

Posted by: Johnny Nobody at October 12, 2006 10:49 AM

Actually, in #2 I wasn't talking about gay people at all. What I had in mind was people who choose to bear lots of children to fathers who then refuse to support them and then go on welfare because they are forced into a life of poverty.

That is just plain dumb. No one forced you not to go to college when there are Pell grants, but if you have 6 kids all to different dads by the time your 24 your chances of ever making a life for yourself are just about nil. That's a destructive and permissive lifestyle. Do you have a "right" to live it? Sure.

Do you have a "right" to ask me to fork over my paycheck to subsidize your asshatted decisions?

Ummmm.... no. After the first two kids I kind of lost sympathy for you. Wise up. Straighten out your life. Take care of the children you do have. Stop making excuses. Act like an adult. I did. And the federal gubmint will pay for your community college and even remedial HS so there are no excuses.

Grow. Up. Your children are depending on you and they will follow in your footsteps.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 10:59 AM

And why would I withhold my tax dollars from a health system that included gays? That is just stupid. If I did that, I would have to withhold my tax dollars from any treatment for hetero STDs. That really isn't intellectually consistent, now is it?

Liberals seem obsessed with the idea that conservatives all hate gays, but many conservatives ARE gay, including many of my readers. You really need to educate yourself. I don't give a rat's tuckus if people are gay. That isn't any of my business, just as I don't particular care to know what hetero couples do in the privacy of their homes. Why would I? It doesn't interest me, unless they seek to inflict the consequences of their private acts on me in the public arena.

Then, I care. But so does everyone, on any issue. Sexual, or otherwise.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 11:06 AM

I prefer to see private charities handle welfare as well. As soon as it happens to my satisfaction, I would be happy to lower taxes.

Since when did you get to make the moral decision about what constitutes satisfactory charity?

I thought liberals were all about not forcing their moral choices on others?

Posted by: Masked MenaceĀ© at October 12, 2006 12:18 PM

Very well written post. I saw the same article in the Trib and was amazed at the author's inference that many of his points 'distinguished' him as a liberal.

The basic difference is that liberals value equality more than liberty, and are willing to forfeit liberties to establish equality. And by equality, I mean equal outcomes, not equal opportunity.

Conservatives value order more than liberty, and will sacrifice liberties to establish order. And by order, I mean security. And by security I mean the right to breathe.

This is why conservatives win the argument. More people want to breathe than be equal. :)

Posted by: Kathy at October 12, 2006 02:43 PM

I'm guessing JN meant actual funding levels by private charities, in regard to welfare recipients, that are up to his satisfaction. They pay more, you and me pay less. Fine with me.

And no, I'm not about forcing my moral choices on others.

I don't like it when the fringes on *both* sides, the Michael Moores and Ann Coulters of the world, do nothing more than shout and drive a wedge between liberals and conservatives. They offer little to nothing constructive on how to bring people together. Don't we really all have common goals in our existence? Life liberty and the pursuit of those who threaten it?


Posted by: jpr at October 12, 2006 02:43 PM

I apologize for thinking you were talking about gay people. I now realize we are in complete agreement on that point.

I'm not sure I've ever heard "destructive lifestyle choice" used to describe something other than non-heterosexuals, if that's any excuse. It's a common code-word.


Masked Menace: It's not the moral decision but the political one. In a democracy, society expresses its choice through voting, and not enough people are sent to public office to cut public charity. I do acknowledge that there is a crowding-out effect, i.e. people see all the government programs and decide that there is enough public charity, and decide they don't need to give privately; I still see the need for reform of public charity. There are some economic reasons for publicly providing such things as well. The coordination problem of getting enough money together to make a difference without coercion and where it should go, and the almost-pure public good problem being that the benefits (of having poor people provided for) is non-rival, come immediately to mind.

Kathy: I don't believe that liberals value equality more than liberty. It's not about equality, it's about extending liberty. Positive liberty, the ability to do the things one desires (rather than just the lack of prohibition from doing them) is out of reach for some without public assistance; the easiest place to get money from, whether fair or not, is the rich. It's a side effect, not an end. There are arguments as to who ought to be the one to pay, but it's hard to change the system when many argue it ought not to exist, and the majority chooses to preserve a flawed system rather than destroy it. Blah, politics.

Posted by: Johnny Nobody at October 12, 2006 03:43 PM

No apology needed. And I didn't mean to sound like I was chewing you out. I just get tired of having to rebut the presumption that because I'm conservative I must hate and wish to marginalize minorities/gays/[insert oppressed Other here :)]

On your comment to Kathy, I think you could argue liberals *do* value equality of outcome, though, more than individual liberty.

Because liberals are willing to take my money, which I earn, and give to someone who did *not* do a durned thing to earn it, to give them this nebulous thing called positive liberty.

But to a conservative it is enough that society not stop you from doing the things you want. When it gets to the point where you start robbing Peter to create opportunity for Paul, i.e., create positive liberty for Paul, you have, in effect, taken liberty from Peter to give it to Paul. Because you took Peter's money, with which he could have created some opportunities for himself or his progeny, and you gave it to Paul.

Now you may say, "well he did not need it".

But who are you to say that?

Who gave you that right? You did not earn one cent of that money. It does not belong to you.

It is one thing to tax the citizenry to provide for benefits in which we all arguably share, like the national defense, or roads, or schools. But to 'create opportunity' for Paul, for individuals?

By what right do you do that?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 04:03 PM

My father put it this way, a long time ago "Liberals want to make the country perfect, conservatives want to make it better."

Posted by: tyree at October 12, 2006 05:27 PM

Well written.

Posted by: insider at October 12, 2006 06:43 PM

Thank you :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 06:51 PM

Johnny, the press is not accountable when they break the law with impunity.

Period.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 06:52 PM

May I post an alternative objection to point 9?

"In response to the liberal statement of belief below, conservatives believe government must protect us also. What we believe, however, is that liberals often assert the rights of individuals over the collective right of society to be secure, often to a degree that is unreasonable."

My sense is that liberals prefer the collective right to be secure to the individual right to create security. For example, conservatives are far more likely to support both the individual right to bear arms, and individuals who use that right. If I have to shoot someone in self-defense, I want to go on trial in Texas, not Illinois.

What you're really talking about here is that liberals seem to prefer privacy to security. No wonder, given how much of the liberal agenda -- abortion, gay rights, etc. -- is based on the 'right to privacy' as defined by the SCOTUS.

It's not about collectivism versus individuality. Insofar as there is a split on the subject, conservatives are on the side of individuality.

(I note the objection that liberals aren't opposed to government surveillence of Americans -- I do truly believe that. Indeed, if anything, it's one of my complaints against them.)

Posted by: Grim at October 12, 2006 06:55 PM

1. Judy Miller calling and tipping off terrorism suspects TWICE.

No prosecution.

2. Judy Miller, NYT, defying a federal grand jury and spending 85 days in jail when the special prosecutor said her testimony was VITAL to proving his case. Then she is mysteriously let free without testifying. Why is that? And then she suddenly "remembers" a notebook she "forgot" before (let's recall this woman has had 85 days in the Alexandria detention center funnelling quarters into the Snickers machine to think about it).

Yet who is indicted because his prior statements were inconsistent?

Bing! Scooter Libby. Now am I saying Libby shouldn't be indicted if there is cause? No way.

But... ummm... Ms. Miller seems to have a few holes you could drive a truck through with her testimony. As does Matt Cooper.

I'll send a stuffed marmoset3. to the first person who can tell me the difference between Scooter and
Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper.

3. Releasing classified information. Let's not even go there. It's AGAINST THE LAW. SCOTUS has ruled there is no press exemption. But the administration is afraid to go after them, and rightly so, because the flood of leaks that would go out after that would make this look like nothing. Greymail has nothing on this.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 07:02 PM

Yes, but liberals often frustrate the means that would create the collective right to be secure too, Grim. Like the military and the police - they are always complaining about the very means that allow that collective security.

They want the end, but not the means that will achieve that end. And because they already *have* the end, they think they can start abolishing the means and the end state won't start to decay. That's what frustrates the heck out of me. And then when they get what they wanted they blame the police and the military for not doing a better job under impossible circumstances.

Case in point: my son just left the VA police force because they can't chase criminals anymore. I swear to God it's true. Why? They're afraid of being sued.

It ain't conservatives pushing that mandate. Now he's a Georgia cop. At least they can chase the freaking bad guys down there.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 07:07 PM

And to be fair, not all liberals do that. Johnny had a great comment at TH that I was totally comfortable with. But just like there are whack jobs on the right, the left has its share of nut jobs who go overboard and give the rest a bad name. All of which
doesn't add to the dialogue.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 07:11 PM

"but we have no duty to subsidize, support, or lend our approval to choices we find wrong or destructive."

Agreed, and beyond the issue of taxation and government largess I would also extend this to the principle that we (we = the government - not the private employer) cannot compel the private individual (professional, licensed, or otherwise) to perform any acts contrary to their own values or morality. This applies equally to the obstetrician who declines to perform abortions, the pharmacist who declines to dispense abortifacients/contraceptives, or the taxi cab driver who declines to transport alcoholic beverages. In a free society every individual must be free to exercise consience over themselves, anything else is a slave/serf state.

Posted by: ThomasD at October 12, 2006 07:19 PM

I have no trouble with your assertion of what it means to be a conservative. So it must really makes you upset that this government is not really conservative?

I'll explain myself, we have humongous deficit and growing at the rate of $200M a month, the value of the almighty dollar is at all time low, the special interests rule our government and big businesses are taking major handouts every day, nation building (Iraq and Afghanistan), expanding government role in education, health care etc. I also believe that the line separating the church and state has now become a dotted line.

Before the shooting starts I'll add that I am a social liberal, fiscal conservative plus some libertarian influence overarching both.

Posted by: GaryV at October 12, 2006 08:40 PM

Actually the nation building bothers me not one whit Gary. In fact I support it, if you read what I've been writing here for the past two years (three actually on another site).

I view it as an essential strategic investment in our long term security, like the Marshall Plan. Otherwise you just fight the same damn wars over and over again.

But that is another conversation.

Education... ummm... no. Health care, not happy about that either.

I disagree on the church and state, so that's not an issue for me. Don't see a dotted line at all. I am not terribly religious, don't go to church, have no plans to, and don't see any evidence at all of all this horrible forcing of religion y'all keep talking about. On the otter heiny John Kerry in the WaPo just had the most nauseatingly overtly religious article I've seen in decades that I can guaran-damn-tee you, had it been written by a Rethug, would have had the country up in arms.

Reaction: a great, barbaric ...yawn. He can talk about how God informs everything he does and how he plans to bring the Almighty into politics and no one bats an eyelash.

Possibly because no one believes him.

*sigh*

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2006 08:52 PM

"Possibly because no one believes him."

I'd say that was it exactly.

Posted by: Grim at October 12, 2006 09:35 PM

Sorry, I peeped over from Grim's blog, I have not read your archives.

I respectfully disagree with your stance on nation building but that's not the point, it will only work with countries that are much smaller than the U.S. and do not have nuclear weapons and/or large standing armies that can have a serious impact in the areas of our strategic interest such as the Gulf or in East and SE Asia.

Alternately and hypothetically lets go out a few years, China is still authoritarian and shows no sign of becoming democratic, much richer, we owe them several trillion dollars from the 1+ of today, a lot of our manufacturing industry has gone over there, they have armed themselves a lot more and are now flexing their muscle on their neighbors such as S. Korea, Japan, SE Asia, Australia, Taiwan etc. What's our play? Or we could role play with the current loose cannon basket case, Russia.

Posted by: GaryV at October 13, 2006 12:08 AM

Johnny,
It is completely moral. The only thing political about it is the means by which you accomplish it.

Instead of you personally showing up with a gun at my house to make me give my property to your (individual or collective) satisfaction you have outsourced the threat of violence to the gov't men with guns (Don't believe me? Try not paying even a portion of your taxes and see who shows up. It won't be Granma asking nicely).

Theft sactioned by majority vote is still theft.

That's the entire point of rights. Things that can't be done just because the majority wants it.

Unless you would be OK with throwing people in jail for unpopular speech if the majority voted for it.

Posted by: Masked MenaceĀ© at October 13, 2006 10:10 AM

Is Gary posting on the same thread I'm reading?

Posted by: red at October 14, 2006 07:26 PM

Help! I guess I'm too dumb to figure out whether *I* am a conservative:



If it is elected, fire it or impeach it!


If it inherits money, seize the money!


Everbody is born naked - everybody passes age 25 broke, except for previous personal earnings!


If you start broke, and earn real money, enjoy a tax rate of (max) 33%.


BUT you get to pay the real cost of all the "services" with which you earn and protect your wealth, rather than (as now) being subsidized by all those less wealthy than you. (It costs the police a LOT more to patrol that square-mile estate hourly, than to wait 11 hours to respond to a 9-1-1 on the "wrong side of the tracks".)


Corporations are no longer eternal - dissolve them at intervals no greater than 30 years. No officers or board members serve more than one
at a time, and any reorganization of corporations require 100% of possible liabilities to be escrowed (to cover pension pledges). Corporate bankruptcy becomes a personal liability to the board and officers, VP and up; and to (any)majority stockholder. Any pass-through from our shores to any offshore account requires forfeiture of 110% of all corporate assets in our country, and execution of all officers and board members.

I would consider a flat tax, if I could first enjoy a few years of 100% estate tax, cessation of Corporate rape-and-pillage, and watching many of the most vocal opponents of progressive taxation, homeless and starving, as bereft of their current privilege as they already are of any value to society.


So, am I conservative?

Posted by: Conley T. Gwinn at October 16, 2006 02:13 AM

I am not sure that liberals really believe in Free Speech and full debate. Consider Hate Speech. Certain topics will be considered out of bounds - either by policy (at universities) or by law.

Now hate speech is usually hurtful and stupid, but what about free speech?

Conservatives are often shouted down on college campuses. Consider for a moment the whole issue of military recruiting on college campuses.... the Left wants anyone and everyone who doesn't toe their line silenced.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at October 18, 2006 12:49 PM

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