I was reading an MSN article on why people voted the way they did in this past election. Most of the people who voted Republican were pretty consistent as to what two issues defined the races for them. The issues that concerned them the most were expanding government, and economic progress (or the perceived lack of).
Other relevant, but less pressing issues were immigration reform, gun control and even Ebola containment. The article, comprised of polls, drilled down into the commonly shared beliefs among conservatives that climate change is fake, regulations on business are too restrictive, and that taxes are too high.
Believe it or not, Obamacare, while still something they opposed across the board, was not the most serious to conservative voters. It isn’t difficult, however, to put the Affordable Care Act into the category of “government expansion” which was an overriding concern, and so, in reality it probably was more on the docket than the poll suggested.
I stepped into the fray on social media when admittedly I was not thrilled with the Red Sweep and my posts were of concern / disbelief / frustration / sarcasm / resignation. Some were conciliatory. All of them were met with criticism from my right wing friends, and varying degrees of support from the left. Nothing, however, was accomplished.
Three different people called me either a “crazy liberal” or a “far left lunatic” and that is what really got me to thinking. Not in a defensive way, because I’ve been categorized that way before, but I have yet to understand what they mean.
What is so far-out, crazy, left-wing about…..
Gun Control? Guns are lethal force and 2nd Amendment interpretations aside, I certainly don’t think it’s insane to believe that not everyone who wants one should be carrying one. We may disagree on what restrictions are necessary, but is it really far-out to think that the proliferation of guns might not be the best way to contain gun violence?
When there are studies that conclude that gun violence increases by a factor of 3 in homes that have firearms, is it a liberal interpretation only that is sobered by that information?
Equal Rights? This may be the historical domain of liberal ideology, but is it CRAZY to think it’s unfair that women earn over 20% less than a man for the same work?
Is it a dramatic swing to the left to interpret the civil rights defended in our Constitution to include…everybody?
How is it exclusively a liberal cause to be sure that our immigration laws serve impartial justice?
Environmental Protection? Don’t we all live on the same planet, breathe the same air, and drink from the same rivers? Again, we may disagree on what the parameters are, but is restricting the CO2 pumped into our atmosphere, or pollutants into our lakes and streams or limiting pipelines that deface our Amber Waves of Grain, a liberal concept alone?
Maybe it is, but is it so FAR to the left to consider warnings from a majority of environmentalists and climatologists?
Keynsian Economics? This is the subject that divides us the most critically, and one which will likely never reach a consensus, but is it a screaming liberal position to look at the historical record of economics? I don’t make up the statistics about economic growth and recessions.
Liberals didn’t create Keynsian Economic theory, they just used it, and from its most profound application during the Great Depression, there is evidence that there just might be some validity to it.
Disagree it you’d like. Offer counter evidence! But what it isn’t, is crazy
Health Care? This one is a real head scratcher for me. Eisenhower proposed government subsidies to businesses that offered coverage. Nixon proposed employer mandates. The conservative Heritage Foundation proposed the individual mandates to create a health market. Mitt Romney ran with it!
Call the Affordable Health Act what you want, but what it isn’t, is Universal Health Care. Call it government expansion, but to call it a purely left wing idea is, well….wrong.
Many liberals, myself included, have started to call our ideology “Progressivism.” That angers some true liberals and some conservatives see it as a cop out, but I believe it is a more accurate description of what liberals stand for. At least in this modern age where liberalism has been effectively re-defined by the right as “loose standards of behavior” and “socialism.”
Progressivism, the first born child of liberalism from the Age of Enlightenment, didn’t find its voice in America until President Theodore Roosevelt, himself a Republican, coined the term to carve out his agenda.
That agenda was social justice; safety and health standards, labor laws, a living wage and protection against the hazards of sickness and irregular employment.
It was to regulate corporate America insofar as to protect the prosperity of the working class and to navigate us away from the inevitable trend toward corporate oligarchy.
And it fought for the protection and enhancement of America’s natural resources.
Roosevelt’s progressive agenda was not embraced by the party he called his own, but the truth of the matter is that Roosevelt and the Progressives were seeking a greater realization of “freedom.”
-Freedom to prosper without being exploited by industrial barons.
-Freedom to live in a clean environment and to share access to America’s resources.
-Freedom to live and work safely with protection from unforeseeable health hazards.
Today, liberal “progressives” have added to that journey toward freedom, tenets of racial, sexual and cultural equality. They have added the advocation of common sense policy to contain misuse of lethal force (300,000,000 guns exist in American homes).
The movement that calls itself the Tea Party has centered its platform on Libertarian ideals of personal freedom, but ironically they have only championed a distilled concept of such, and one that is far shy of what Roosevelt’s progressives had imagined.
The Tea Party has focused freedom into a defense of the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms; to shrink government, specifically to lower taxes; and to pander to corporate interests, obstensibly to encourage wealth to have the freedom to accumulate without restrictions.
My perspective differs from the new right. I drove to work today and did not feel encumbered by the FDA, the FBI, CDC, EPA, FAA or the Department of Education for that matter. In fact, I probably felt a little better knowing that there are environmental, law enforcement, and health programs out there working for my welfare.
I don’t feel less free for paying about 25 cents out of every dollar toward running this country I get to enjoy. (Don’t bother me with tax tables. If you are paying more, even if in the highest bracket, get a new accountant. Breaks and shelters allow a guy like Mitt Romney to pay closer to 14%).
I have two brothers and both have worked in government and I can say first hand that there are redundancies, inflated salaries and obsolete programs that are wasteful. I don’t think even a crazy liberal believes otherwise or that government can’t get too big. But no coherent, analyzed, comprehensive, logical, plan has ever been presented by the Tea Party, or Republicans for that matter, to honestly change that paradigm.
Except to implement draconian austerity measures and to toss around platitudes to ignite their base: Government is too big! Cut taxes! Cut welfare! We don’t need the EPA or a Department of Education!
There is a paradoxical swing in society that is both inevitable and confusing. While human beings naturally evolve toward progress (polls show that even though people voted Republican, many support liberal ideas), there is also a natural counter-balance toward conservative values to protect ourselves from too much at once.
Our evolution, while trending toward social justice, also moves a faction farther to the right, pulling the center along. Today, Republicans once considered moderate are being called “RINO’s” (Republicans In Name Only) by the new right. Imagine how they categorize any liberal.
I offer an old post of mine to clarify some historical positions of American conservatives. http://garyhasissues.com/archives/6407
So allow me to conclude by going back to where this began. We can disagree. We will surely use different sources for information. We may always be diametrically opposed on several things. But if you think we’re crazy, commies over here…then you are so crazy to the right, that we’re not going to get anywhere….