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  • The Contradictory Nature of Conservatism

    • Posted on May 05, 2016
    I wrote this some eleven years ago, and evidently scrapped it; don't think it was published at the time.  Re-reading it now, it seems to hold up well, and as we witness the utter collapse of conservatism under the guidance of Donald Trump, it rings true.   

    Conservatives want smaller government, but still expect to be protected and defended by a strong standing army/air force/navy/marines/coast guard.  

    They also know that the federal government helps protect the food supply, and has a hand in detecting and preventing deadly epidemics.  Oh yes, they believe that upholding public morality is important, so regulating the media does have a role.  

     And they appreciate quality state education, though they might like to change it to fit their religious beliefs more than a secular government would allow.  They know how expensive private schools can be, so none call for national privatization of public schools.  

     They’d like to be able to drive or fly safely to any destination in the country safely and relatively cheaply, and that requires good roads as well as national oversight of the airlines, particularly when it comes to safety.  

    Oh yes, there’s social security, meaning some kind of assurance that old age doesn’t mean penury.  And Medicaid, which keeps medication costs from sending us all to the poorhouse. 

     All government programs, all costly, all to be continued.  So conservatives want smaller government, but no fewer services.  Ask a conservative what they would get rid of to cut government spending, and you end with a very short list. We’d still have a military, still government standards for food safety and water quality. We’d still have state schools both for grades 1-12, and they must know that our public universities remain the envy of the world.  

    As is the scientific research done at them, much of it funded by the federal government.  Because Americans have gotten so used to government providing so many critical services, from education to safe food to a large military, conservatives don’t seem to know how much they get from it.

     Like air to humans and water to fish, government is everywhere, so it’s taken for granted. In fact, here’s the dirty little secret behind conservatives’ anti-government rants:  they’re actually raving liberals by standards of just a few years ago. Few 1950s conservatives would have dreamed of the need for a pervasive and strong government in a globally-oriented world economy, not to mention a terrorist-threatened world.  

     Except for hot-button social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and prayer in schools, today’s conservatives would seem rabidly liberal to 1950s conservatives,
    So though these conservatives can’t have a much smaller government, they yearn for it like their recent ancestors yearned for separation of the races, women keeping their place in the home, and a white-male dominated world.  

    We’ve moved beyond those too, thanks to liberal reforms, all of which conservatives fought--and lost. 

     Do any contemporary conservatives want women to stay out of the workplace? Would they now argue for segregation, as they once did so fervently?  Would they insist that blacks and whites not marry, as they once railed against “miscegenation” (interracial marriages) with as much fervor as they now outlaw gay marriages? 

     Of course not.  Such conservatives have long disappeared; we’ll all liberals now, no matter how much they might protest to the contrary.  That might explain why they’re so bitter and angry; except for a few outbuildings, they’ve lost the whole farm.     

     Of course conservatives still walk among us, but they mostly rant about secularism, about issues that they see threatening their beliefs, and about those demon liberals who seem to oppose such beliefs. 

     The major difference between liberals and conservatives these days?  Conservatives tend to base their arguments on black-and-white distinctions and demonizing the opposition, while liberals see complexities, gray areas, and mostly avoid name-calling and button-pushing, Al Franken excepted for his book, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar.”   

     In a culture dominated by religion and the visual media, emotional demonizing will trump reason and facts every time.  

     Conservatives even admit this approach as a strategy.  In a review of Richard Viguerie and Richard Frankes’ book “America’s Right Turn,” conservative reviewer Diana Feygin points out that  “While conservatives have basically been able to say, 'This is good. This is evil. There is no in between . . .liberals have been more hesitant to identify the good and "vilify the bad" in such stark terms.  
    Shades of “evil empire” and “axis of evil,” by Presidents Reagan and GW Bush, not to mention the ugly ranting of the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the nasty-wing conservatives.  

     Reviewer Fegin even admits that this all-pervasive and effective conservative strategy could bring the downfall of conservatives.  She ends her review with this: “ a reliance on muckraking to shame the 'bad guys' creates risks of its own. In the end, too much "black and white" victim rhetoric could bring to a premature defeat the movement Viguerie and Franke worked so painstakingly to establish.” 

     Given the fact that most of the liberal causes of a few years ago have already occurred, conservatives have nowhere to go but down and out.  

    Go comment!
    Posted in
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    • Politics
    • Conservatives/Liberals
  • Pity North Carolina Police

    • Posted on Apr 24, 2016
    Here's this morning's WCF Courier column, in which I discuss a bad joke out of North Carolina:  the birth certificate bathroom law.  

    Pity the police in North Carolina.  As of last week, not only must they enforce laws against real crimes, they’re also policing birth certificates.  They’re required to check for wrongful urination and defecation.    

     If that sounds like a joke, it is.  Only it’s reality based.  

     North Carolina’s legislature recently took twelve hours to pass a “bathroom bill,” which makes public restrooms available only to “real” men and women--meaning birth certificate-certified citizens.    

     Except for “Unisex” stalls—those no-choice-required bathrooms common in jets and homes—most of us habitually find proper toilets.   Only in emergencies do we use the “wrong” toilet, and that has been true since toilets moved indoors.   

     Most of us.  But not all, and there’s the problem.  We don’t all identify with our birth gender, as anyone who recognizes Caitlyn Jenner as the former Bruce Jenner knows. 

     They’re known as “transgender,” and the rest of us are “cisgender.”  “Cis” meaning “this side of,” and “trans” meaning “across” in the Latin prefix source.  

     Last October at an Iowa writer’s conference, I met Ellen Krug, a former male, and except for her voice, she looks, acts, and dresses female.  Ellie spoke about her 2013 book “Getting to Ellen, A Memoir about Love, Honesty, and Gender Change.” It details her frightening realization—she did not identify her truest self as being male. 

     She was female in a male’s body.  She kept this secret for years, which meant living an unbalanced, inauthentic life.  She was miserable.  

     As Ed Krug, she became a successful lawyer, married, sired a daughter, but secretly
    yearned for womanhood.   

     Occasionally I still connect with Ellie via e-mail. She’s articulate, funny, and utterly honest about her life’s journey.  

     Naturally, I had to ask about her reaction to North Carolina’s bathroom law.  With her permission, here’s her reply.   

     “People who know me are very aware that I’m a really strong person. However, this day in, day out barrage of state legislators (and in the case of NC and MS, actual state governments) saying that my rights, my identity, don’t matter really starts to affect you after a while.” 
    And this, about her own story:  

     “The reality is that I tried my very best to stay a man; I knew that I’d lose so very much if I ever allowed my authentic true (female) self to show through. Being an “out” transgender person isn’t a choice; it’s just who I am.”

     “I’ve paid a big price for self-acceptance—the loss of my soul mate wife, the loss of a daughter, (who has since come back) the loss of my law firm and much financial security. And now, I have the government telling me that I can’t even use a public restroom.”  
    She ends with: “. . .I’m finding that bigotry isn’t very well thought out. Do the hate-mongers really want me in the men’s restroom?”

     Granted, she could legally use a unisex bathroom, or get her birth certificate changed, though not in all states.   

     But why should she?  Equality before the law remains a founding principle, and it’s violated legally now in both North Carolina and Mississippi. 

     The sooner such laws get repealed the better.   

    Go comment!
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