Thursday, November 8, 2012

6 Completely Reasonable Conservative Principles

Conservative news outlets all agree: We are a 'divided country'. Funny, I wonder if that's the headline they would have gone with if Romney had won? Whatever the case, I want to work towards healing that divide. It's something we will need to do if we're going to move forward together. In that spirit, I've compiled a list of 6 conservative principles that I believe should be absolutely uncontroversial.

1. Don't Spend More Than You Take In

What could be more basic? I won't go into the data that shows Democrats have been better stewards of our national finances than have Republicans--this is, after all, an effort at ecumenicism--but whenever I ask a Republican, especially the tea party variety, what the most important role of Government is, this is one of their first responses. Really, it's not a point that can be argued: Debt equals enslavement to outside interests, and restricts personal and national freedom. The more self reliant our country is, the better.

2. Reward According To Merit

Another important, fundamental principle. Trophies for participation really grate on the conservative soul. It's a tough world out there, and it takes grit. Where does a person get grit? Well, by competing. By losing. By 'Failing forward'. 'Always make new mistakes', and all of those other corporate cliches.

But there is one caveat: in order to reward according to merit, the competitors have to be competing on a level playing field. Our society has been designed to promote the white, the male, the christian, the abled, the established, and the heterosexual. All of our institutions are geared towards the success of the aforementioned categories, and the more of those categories you can tick off, the more likely you are to succeed. Yes, there are plenty of 'rags to riches' stories out there, but the fact is, you are pretty much guaranteed to end up in the class you are born in. We also have to ask ourselves of those who went from little to a lot, was it worth it for them? The amount of work and game-playing a person has to engage in to succeed in this country are enormous. We do not treat human beings as 'ends unto themselves' in this country: we treat them as appendages of production, and capital and status accumulating machines. If a person fails at any of these things--or takes little interest in them--they are considered failures. We also have to ask of those who went from little to a lot, was the system fair? Did you have to work far harder than those who inherited their lot? The answer will always be 'yes', and if that is the case, then we really aren't rewarding according to merit.

3. Hold Others--And Yourself--Accountable

We should hold everyone accountable for their actions. The criminal must pay for the crime. Justice must be done.

So why are there more minority drug users in prison than there are white Americans, when more white Americans use drugs? Why are individuals experiencing tough times expected to 'pull themselves up by their boot straps', when corporate America gets a bailout after it commits gross malfeasance?

The inconsistencies go on and on, but the conservatives are right: We need to hold ourselves and others accountable. We also need to hold our system accountable, too.

4. Build A Strong Military

From the time I was sixteen to maybe twenty, I identified as a pacifist. I attributed my pacifism to my christianity, which has also since lapsed. I didn't understand how we are going to stop violence with violence: to live by the sword is to die by the sword.

But violence is a reality, and there are armed villains in the world that need to be kept at bay. Governments opress their people, and sometimes other governments need to step in in the name of justice. We have to have a strong military.

But do we have to spend as much money on the military as we do?

Let's go back to the first principle on our list. "Don't spend more than you take in". Is such a huge and expansive military really in keeping with this principle, especially when so many within our country are going without? Couldn't we have a strong military and still scale it back quite a bit?

5. Support Israel

Conservatives love Israel. I don't have a problem with Israel. They are an undeniable ally. We should support our allies.

But what we are involved with in Israel is more than a matter of a relationship with an ally: bronze age mythology absolutely colors the entire conflict between Israel and its neighbors, and especially its relationship with Palestine. We have to de-mythologize the conflict, or at least our involvement in it. We have to promote pragmatic peace, which will inevitably include a Palestinian state, and the permanent cessation of settlements.

6. Protect the Family

Maybe this one will seem a little tricky on my part, but it's not intended to be so. The family is the bedrock of our society, and it must be protected. It must be preserved and promoted. One of the best ways to do this, is to ensure that consenting, loving adults, regardless of gender, sex, color, or creed, should be able to marry other loving adults, regardless of gender, sex, color, or creed. The family promotes cohesion. Families fuel our economy. The more families we have the better, whatever those families are constructed of.

Another way to protect the family is to understand that capitalism destroys families. Capitalism does not respect the integrity of individuals. To capitalism, we are all just individual units of labor. It is becoming increasingly expensive to survive in this capitalist system that we have, especially for lower income families. Everyone must work. There are no stay-at-home moms and dads anymore in my end of the economic pool, at least very few.  We are all just exploited labor power, and it takes all of us working in order to make ends meet. That leaves more children to be raised by the system itself; a system that ultimately transforms them into yet more units of labor power, stripping them of their human integrity.

Yes, we must support the family. The only way to do that, however, is to outgrow the existing system.

1 comment:

Lodo Grdzak said...

In regards to protecting "the family," I'd argue that Mitt Romney's five boys are indicative of an outdated family model. We have 7 billion people on the planet and that number will rise to 9 billion by 2020. Quality of life is not just declining in USA--its declining for the species as a whole (though in the short-term it may be improving for some in China, India and Brazil, which is actually bad since that will just encourage more population growth). I'd assert much of the reason for the declining quality of life for the species is overpopulation. The declining value of labor; the seeming decline of personal freedom; the rise in greenhouse gasses and changing weather; the rising cost of energy and the increasingly desperate efforts to extract it via fracking. If each of Mitt's boys has only 2 kids (less than half of what Mitt had) that would mean 10 kids added to the pool of humanity. All at a time when robotics and technology are making human labor less and less necessary. You're not protecting the family when you allow it to grow out of proportion to the resources and environment in which it has to exist.