Now, I'm sure anyone who is reading this blog already knows what political party is claiming to be conservative in the US. In this blog post, I am going to go over what they claim to stand for. And what I believe conservatism actually means. To facilitate this discussion, I am going to offer a little copypasta in the form of the definition for conservative.
[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Show IPA
1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4. ( often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5. ( initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
Now. As you can see from the above spam, there are many definitions for conservative in the online version of the dictionary. The last two are, in my opinion, largely useless. They don't mean ANYTHING unless the groups they are referring to are actually conservative. And that is why I am going into my thoughts on Conservatism in politics.
Now, the Conservative Party (I am not going to write it out. Bear with me) in the US has been that way for quite a while. They claim to uphold the ideals of Limited Government, Lower Taxes and a Focus on America. No. The rampant capitalization of that last sentence was not a mistake. I consider those terms to be used the same way that Conservative is used in the fourth and fifth definitions for it. These topics are all things that sound good. But are they often followed through on? And how do these ideas mesh with the definition for conservative? Let's take a look.
The first claim that is often pushed forward by ANY candidate in the Conservative Party is that they want Limited Government. They want you to be able to live your life without too much control from your federal government. This sounds good, right? Fewer laws limiting where you can walk. Who you can talk to. How fast you can drive. What you have to purchase. This sounds like a good deal. But what do these "Limited Government" candidates often do when they get into office? They, often, push forward an agenda trying to limit the rights of people who don't agree with their general beliefs. Wait. Let us read that again. Their favorite things to do in office are to try to limit the rights and power of others? How is that limited government? How does telling people they can't get married, or adopt, or get a government job, or buy birth control help limit the power of government? Isn't this just what they claim to be against? A truly conservative candidate would be trying to stop the government from getting involved. That kind of interference GROWS the power of government. It doesn't limit it. Now, let me prove how these actions contradict the definition of conservative. The first definition is being disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, or restore traditional ones. Or to limit change. There are no laws currently (or in my lifetime, to my knowledge) limiting access to birth control or saying who can or cannot adopt a child. So many of these fail the first test. The second definition is to be cautiously moderate or purposefully low. While the MORALS of these fine folks may be low, that is not what is meant by the definition. By pushing forward these laws, purposefully, viciously, as soon as they get anything resembling a majority in any legislature, they are definitely not being cautious or setting the bar too low. So that's a fail for that definition. So, maybe it fits the third definition. To be traditional in style or manner, avoiding novelty or showiness. Well, they certainly make a show of their attempts to change the laws. Often pushing forward "voter initiatives" to deflect the blame. Wait. There it is! They are conservative in their attempts to get these laws to pass. Trying to pass the blame to ANYONE else if approval for the ideas starts to dip.
The second big thing that conservatives often play on is their desire to Lower Taxes in America. Anywhere they go, they want to cut your taxes! That sounds great, right? Well, let's see how that tends to work. First, we Lower the Taxes. This causes everyone to have more money, yes? This something we can all get behind. But, should we always be lowering taxes? Is it possible that there are BAD times to be lowering taxes? Are they being lowered in a way that actually helps out our country? I believe that the conservative thing (by the second definition, mostly) would be to take a look at our national or state budget and lower taxes only when that wouldn't CAUSE a deficit to occur. A conservative banker would NEVER give away more money than he could afford to write off. Why would our conservative legislators do so? If they can find waste in our system, or programs that are no longer needed, then cut them and find a better use for the money. Or, y'know, cut the revenue stream that was funding it. However, our "conservative" legislators have been starting new programs without funding them, while also cutting taxes in general. I wish *I* could stand up and say, "I'm never going to work again. Oh, and I'm buying a Porsche next week." I'd be laughed off the lot! And yet, these same people expect to get re-elected based off of their conservative ideals.
And, I mentioned it. So I guess I have to go into it. Their "Focus on America". I think this is a wonderful message. That we should be looking to our own problems and find ways to fix them. We need to get our own house in order before we can tackle the problems of the world. However, this is often followed by the cutting of funding for various things that we (and the rest of the world!) consider to be our problems. They step up and cut funding for education. They step up and cut back funding for public works projects. Or block the creation of new ones. They stand up and tell us that what we have for welfare is broken and only funding people who will never work again. And that our healthcare system is the best in the world. With the number of job losses over the last decade, and our economy's tepid attempt at a recovery, those last two problems are ones that have only grown worse. As many people have tried to get a few jobs, many families have been stuck with welfare as their only source of income for an extended period of time. The adults in the household are trying for work. Putting out dozens of applications every week. And then, finally, one of them lucks out and they manage to bring in enough money to get off of the social welfare program that saved them from losing their home. If only 50%, or heck. Twenty five percent, of the funds actually went towards keeping people from losing their homes while they are between jobs, then these programs have done their jobs. Of course, this rampant unemployment (still above 7% nationally, as of the last I heard) has caused many people to not be able to afford the healthcare they need to be able to work! If a simple cut turns into an infected mess, that person now has to go to the ER. And if they don't have the money in their account to pay for it? Well, US law requires these hospitals to stabilize the person anyway. And who pays for it? The hospital! How is this the "best healthcare system in the world"? If you don't have 100k in the bank, waiting for that cancer to finally hit someone in your family, you are screwed. Denying or exacerbating the problems of our nation does not help us fix them. Not everything is a profitable idea for a private corporation. And constantly stalling out or cutting apart our national government will not fix these problems.
Wow. That turned ranty. Well, to continue the last paragraph from where it derailed: If the party who claimed to be 'conservative' would actually look at our problems and try to find ways of fixing them (including actually raising the funds necessary to pay for it), I think this country would be in much better shape than it is now. Unfortunately, it comes down to our more "liberal" (yes, in quotes) party to push forward national infrastructure projects when they get a majority. Since when did investing in America become investing in the private companies who are only concerned with money? It comes down to responsible members of our government to look at everything that afflicts us and find ways to improve our country. And not just to improve those people's lives who donate the most to their bank accounts when election season rolls around.