Friday, January 2, 2009

Conservative: Each to his Own Definition

I would certainly agree with anyone that says most Republicans are not conservative, at least under my definition. They will frequently talk about the Second Amendment and rarely, if ever, discuss the importance of the First or Fourth Amendments. In fact, many of their "conservative" views that underlie their ideology are inconsistent even with conservative Supreme Court justices' interpretation of the First Amendment and other restraints on governmental action contained in the Bill of Rights. Government invasion of citizens privacy by wiretaps may even be encouraged.

Indefinite incarceration of a U.S. citizen without a charge, access to an attorney, or a trial is defended without a moment's hesitation. Many of these violations of basic Constitutional principles by the so called conservatives in the Bush administration were ably documented in the recent book by Jane Meyer. Many of them share a political view founded entirely on their religious beliefs that would require schools to teach creationism or intelligent design, and many other practices intended to use the state to further their religious beliefs, arguing that it is liberal justices who are preventing them from turning the school system into an Americanized version of the Pakistani Madrassas. The resemblance with the view of the world fostered by the Taliban can be striking at times.

Everyone can have their own definition of conservatism. I personally view only those to be conservative who advocate a vigilant enforcement of all of the limitations on government intrusion into its citizens private lives embodied in all of the Bill of Rights, not just the Second Amendment. It would also be my view that separation of church and state is essential to protect every citizen's free exercise of religious beliefs. I know too well those who wish to impose their own peculiar religious beliefs on the rest of society to give them any leeway to use the power of the state to further their objectives. Some of these issues are discussed in prior posts. Random Observations: Sarah, Vietnam, Unemployment and DisneyPALIN AND SUPPORTERS IN FLORIDA

Another problem that I have with them is their careless and incompetent approach in making a decision to go to war and then calling that the conservative position. I have discussed previously the decision making process that led to the invasion of IRAQ including the the false statements made to create a war fever in the country where any dissent was viewed as unpatriotic in 2002. I am never surprised about how easy it is to convince so many to sacrifice so much based on false pretenses. Some will call themselves conservative based on their support for this invasion while an opponent will be labeled a liberal. This simpleton thought process obscures all of the practical considerations that should go into a major decision such as the IRAQ invasion which has nothing to do with being a conservative.  Going to War Decisions: Conservative or Liberal vs. Competent or Incompetent?Curveball and Madoff: I can not help but connect themAccurate Information is Not a Side to an Issue/ W & the Housing Crisis/Lying Works In Politics

Then you have those who wish to be called conservative who will complain about every single spending bill that passes Congress that is somehow connected to a social program, no matter how worthy it may be. Nothing is said, not a single word, about the soon to be trillion spent on IRAQ, but a great deal of consternation is expressed at some bill intended to feed children at school. This is not conservative ideology in my view. It is just plain reactionary.

Many social programs passed by the Democrats, often over Republican opposition, are consistent with the humanitarian side of conservatism. I would support Medicare and Social Security, for example, though I am just annoyed to no end by such stories like those published in NYT story about how 97% of the retired union workers for a railroad can qualify for disability plus generous pension and other benefits(with a large part of the disability paid through social security) and nothing happens, nothing at all, well over a year over the NYT exposes what is happening (articles cited in this post: W: The Best Shoe Dodging President in our History / Railroad Worker Disability )

My problem with Bush's Republicans is that they went too far with a few major programs and rarely found a spending bill that they did not like, even during the first six years when the GOP was firmly in control. There was no fiscal restraint-none at all, and it become hard for me to see any meaningful difference in the reckless spending agendas of the GOP and the Democrats. With the looming unfunded problems in Medicare and Social Security as the baby boomers retire. Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire

I could not have supported adding billions more to the problem by adding a drug program to medicare, particularly a convoluted and difficult to understand one. I never supported the war in Iraq, and still view it as one of the worst foreign policy blunders made by any American president with LBJ's decision to escalate the Vietnam war in a close tie with Bush's decisions on IRAQ, from his decision to invade a country that had not attacked the U.S. and presented no legitimate threat to the inexcusable lack of preparation for the subsequent occupation.

I said in an earlier post how odd it was to be labeled a liberal for being a hawk on enforcing all of the values embodied in all of the Bill of Rights. I still wonder why it is possible to be a conservative and just believe strongly in just one of them.

Another issue where I part ways is the alleged conservative ideology that permits virtually no regulation. I have discussed many times in these posts where the failures, particularly at the SEC, to regulate created the monsters that led the nation to its current economic calamity. I would not view those who advocated the repeal of the SEC Rule limiting the leverage of investment banks to be conservative. Foolish is a word that I would use to describe them. Why not just say that decision was plain stupid and idiotic. Conservatives learn from the past and the lessons of the Great Depression showed anyone paying attention what can happen in the absence of rules. True conservatives do not so easily forget the lessons taught by events like the last depression.

There is nothing in conservative ideology, as I understand it, that would prohibit an accurate assessment of Iraq's threat to the nation's security and practical ways to deal with the properly judged nature of the treat, or the myriad of problematic outcomes resulting from a western army invading a Muslim country torn by centuries of religious conflict.

There is nothing inconsistent with conservative ideology by telling the American public the truth. 

Torture is not consistent with conservatism.

Is realism, intelligence, tolerance, knowledge, open- mindedness and compassion inconsistent with conservative ideology or just inconsistent with the ideology espoused by those who want to be called conservative because a more appropriate label does not sound so good?

All of those listed virtues are inconsistent with a large number of purported conservatives who form opinions with incorrect or limited information and no fact can change any opinion, any fact inconsistent with their ideology will be discarded or ignored, little effort will be made to understand others, tolerate differences or to learn. Everything is viewed through an immutable and sacrosanct prism. There is no wonder that the IRAQ occupation was botched by these people. They would never question their own opinions, plan for alternate scenarios, look at all of the potential dangers, plan for contingencies, because they are incapable of doing any of those things due to a simplistic, narrow, and rigid view about just about everything. I know many Republicans. I would estimate that 95% of the people that I know think Sarah Palin would have made a great President. Of the ones that call themselves conservative, I would give my seal of approval for that category to maybe 5% of them. I would not view Sarah as a conservative, possibly a very limited number of beliefs consistent with conservatism as I define it, but really just another uninformed ideologue who would have been far worse than W.

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