"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains. "
~ Winston Churchill
FROM THE FRONT
By Len Semas Main Feature 5/4/2016)
WHAT CONSERVATISM ISN'T
The major print media, television, and other left-leaning groups regularly characterize Conservatives as out of the mainstream on contemporary issues. They are variously described as mean-spirited, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, homophobic, anti-women, pro-business, anti-environment, and just plain nasty. Conservatives are identified as favoring the wealthy, stepping on the poor, and overlooking the elderly.
The ongoing campaign is clearly intended to stifle debate on any of the real issues, and limit the stage to those ideas presented by Liberal Leftists. The effort is working for many Americans since the Liberal Ideologues have garnered control of many major influences on popular thought and culture, despite their rejection of reason, justice, and common sense. The education establishment has been largely taken over by Liberals, as have the elite television and print media; there is nary a Conservative to be found in the entertainment industry, and Conservatives bear the brunt of jokes and derision in most “comedy.”
The best way to respond to the mischaracterization of what conservatism IS, is to accurately identify what it ISN’T, accusations of major media, Liberals, and other left wing groups notwithstanding.
Conservatism Isn't Intolerant
To maintain a steadfast allegiance to a philosophy believed correct is not intolerance. To the extent other points of view are not in conflict with that philosophy, they are respected even though different. But to surrender one's beliefs to an opposing and perhaps conflicting point of view is not tolerant; it is a lack of conviction. To the degree such surrender affects fundamental beliefs, it can be fatal to those beliefs. Tolerance is not surrender. A popular expression says it all: "A person who stands for nothing, will fall for anything. "
Conservatism isn't mean-spirited
The term "compassionate Conservative" was coined to counter the idea that somehow conservatism is mean and uncaring. Liberals would call this an oxymoron; I would call it a redundancy. Caring and compassion are personal values, not fixed to a particular ideology. Conservatives simply believe that the most genuine form of caring for those less fortunate is to help them to help themselves, not to be dependent on government or handouts. Which approach is truly the less compassionate: one that fuels self-esteem, accomplishment, and self-determination or one that chains generation after generation to the public dole (confiscated from the hard working folks who pay the bills)?
The wisdom of Ben Franklin is instructive: “I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
Conservatism isn't rich, white and male
The ten wealthiest members of Congress include seven Democrats and two women. Of course, political wealth is elusive since it may be vested in a spouse, trust or foundation (the Clintons come to mind). The source of the wealth may be more questionable than the amount – “insider” dealings, using family members to shield questionable gains, ludicrous speaking fees, and other gimmicks that shade the truth.
Conservatism doesn't derive from economic status, race, or sex; it is a philosophy based on reason, justice, and common sense. It seeks an environment in which all are free to participate, compete, and achieve based on their God-given talents, their own labors, and their own risks and choices – not political or crony capitalism. The outcomes are not preordained; they are earned. If Conservatives turn out to be successful, white and male, it may be because they have chosen a path generally open to all, but taken by the few. By the way, someone remarked recently, “if you receive $250,000 for speaking, it’s not a fee, it’s a bribe.” If it walks like a duck…
Conservatism isn't racist
Conservatives reject the notion that anyone is limited by race; they insist that each of us is capable of pursuing and realizing our dreams, constrained only by our physical limits. For that reason, racial preferences, quotas, "affirmative action," and other programs which assume an inability to achieve based on race are considered both wrong and offensive. They are a slap in the face to those of a different race, nationality or ethnicity seeking to achieve and they diminish the accomplishment of those who have. Our society would benefit: embracing the words of Dr. King, stopping the focus on skin color and looking to the content of one’s character; relegating the issue of slavery to history (it’s been 150 years, folks); and ending the hyphenation of one’s family background (Mexican-American, African-American) - you’re an American or you’re not.
Conservatism isn't anti-woman
Conservatives respect women and womanhood as a unique gift. Whether dedicated to motherhood and family life, pursuing a career in any number of fields, or both, the potential for achievement by women is no different than by men. Conservatives do not, however, deny the common sense recognition that men and women have inherent differences that often favor certain paths in life, recognize different individual abilities, and prompt certain concessions as a matter of fairness, common sense or civil behavior. Those general observations in no way limit any individual to pursue a course less conventional or traditional than others. Every woman is free to choose, free to fail, and free to succeed.
Conservatism isn't homophobic
Like most personal behaviors, conservatism differentiates between public and private behaviors. There is tolerance for private matters of a behavioral nature, no matter what one's view as to the rightness or wrongness of it. This is the point radical homosexuals can't seem to get: keep it to yourself and no one cares; flaunt it as a public issue and it becomes publicly debatable based on community standards and norms.
A belief that homosexuality is abnormal, unnatural, and morally offensive to many people is factual; the acceptance or rejection of it as private behavior is simply a reasoned choice. It is not hateful, irrational, fearful, or phobic to view homosexuality in this perspective. It is simply another point of view to which people are entitled. Rejecting the notion of marriage between two members of the same sex respects the right of others to do so, and reflects 5,000 years of the human experience. Respecting the right of others to segregate intimate areas such as showers and toilets is not a matter of politics, but simply common sense and civility.
Conservatism isn't anti-immigrant" or xenophobic
There are basically three types of immigrants: (1) those who come here legally, seeking to be Americans, and to assimilate American language, culture and way of life; to pledge their allegiance to this great nation; and to contribute to its growth and take of its opportunities through their efforts; (2) those who come here legally, but simply seek to export their prior language and culture; to take of America's fruits; or (3) those who come here illegally for mere economic opportunity, either from their own labor; from the generosity of the welfare state; or worse, to participate in crime or terrorist activities. Conservatism celebrates the first group; it reluctantly tolerates the second; and it rejects outright the third. Conservatism isn't anti-immigrant; it is pro-America. Conservatism is not fearful or hateful toward other cultures or countries; it simply seeks to preserve its own culture, language and traditions.
Conservatism isn't anti-education
Conservatives are generally strong supporters of education, including public education. But when public education becomes indoctrination it is rejected rightly as intrusive and antithetical to the true ends of learning.
When education becomes the ward of the government instead responsibility of the family and local community, it suffers, and Conservatives reject that too. When endless streams of money produce neither improvements nor even basic competence, Conservatives are not afraid to question and demand change. By the way, where do all those Liberals in Washington D. C. send their kids to school? Yes, exclusive private schools almost without exception - so much for intellectual honesty.
Conservatism isn't anti-environment
Many Conservatives are hunters and fishermen, and are among the most committed and effective environmentalists. Conservatives support policies that protect scarce natural resources, and have a reverence for nature in general. Why is it in fact that so many Conservatives live in the country, while so many Liberals live in cities? Who's kidding whom? Conservatives believe that mankind is part of the environment, however, and has a legitimate claim to natural resources for its own benefit. They believe in protecting all life forms, but legitimately question the "species of the day" that surfaces every time a building permit is about to be pulled ... especially when it is an insect (about 6 million species as I recall), or a weed.
Conservatism isn't anti-privacy
Quite the contrary, Conservatives are greatly troubled by invasions of privacy, in both the public and private sectors. As with other philosophical views, they prefer to deal in substance and reason, rather than innuendo and emotion. The most deeply held beliefs regarding privacy and personal freedoms are those defined by our Founders - which are regularly trampled by liberal judges who frequently redefine the rights of one person or institution at the expense of another.
Conservatism isn't anti-government
Conservatism supports the necessity of government sufficient to accomplish those essential reasons for its existence. In the case of the federal government, those reasons are quite specific and limited by the Constitution - and they have been grossly exceeded. In the case of state and local governments, the Conservative's complaint is that they have failed to preserve their constitutionally reserved domains, while expanding into other areas beyond their legitimate authority. It is the imbalance in government which offends the sensibilities of Conservatives. They are not anti-government; they just want government restored to its limited and defined role.
Now, this exercise won't prevent the Liberals from asserting falsehoods about conservatism. Accuracy and honesty is not part of their equation. It is more compatible with the Liberal agenda to define conservatism for what it needs it to be to justify their own agenda, rather than to recognize it for what it really is.