Iowa has gone blue in the past couple of elections but this is essentially a conservative state. Iowa has a long history of landmark progressivism, but that is actually a result of our Midwestern nature that prefers that we keep our noses out of other people’s business.
“Why not let women vote?” we asked in 1919.
“I don’t want anyone in my bedroom so I’m not peeking into yours” we agreed in 2009 as the Iowa Supreme Court batted down the Defense of Marriage Act.
But, Iowa remains conservative by nature (I’m pretty confident we won’t second guess the 19th Amendment, but the DOM debate still looms large). I live in a predominately conservative town, and I work in an overwhelmingly conservative company. All that being said, as a liberal minority, I am not chastised, ridiculed or rejected; I count every socio-political persuasion among my friends.
I do, however, get a pretty clear perspective of modern Republican/conservative thinking; what motivates them and what their priorities are (I am a liberal mole!). I can make pretty accurate statements drawn from the many (many) debates that I’ve had.
Modern Republicanism has identified 4 areas of militant concern: 1) Public Education is liberal indoctrination, 2) Mass Media (except for their own mouthpiece, Fox News) has a liberal bias, 3) Government is a vehicle for liberal policy, and 4) Science is liberal voodoo (climate change being their challenge du jour).
No point in arguing with me here, conservative friends (all two of you who read my posts). Those arguments are consistently consistent in their consistency. One or more comes up every single debate over policy, ideology, or history.
So we have to ask (tongue planted firmly in cheek), how did liberals become so powerful?
I mean, this is amazing when you think about it. Schools, television, radio, newspaper, laboratories, all phases of governance; the liberal scourge has devoured. Leaving good, America-loving, hardworking (note: Only liberals on welfare choose handouts over work. Conservative welfare recipients receive social services only because they are coerced by liberals) patriots to toil in a sea of socialism.
How did this come to pass? There have been great, strong Republican/conservative leaders. Many came out of Federalism. The original Republicans were abolitionists. There was Lincoln! Teddy Roosevelt! Eisenhower! Reagan! How did they let liberals take over EVERYTHING?
I could continue this sarcastic direction even further, but there is no point (outside of the fact that it’s fun). The truth is two fold: 1) Liberalism does not control education, media and science, and 2) Liberals gravitate toward education, media and science.
Sound like a contradiction? It isn’t. The liberal ideology is based on the acquisition of information. It comes, in fact, from the Age of Enlightenment. Liberalism was not an idea born from John Locke or any other single philosopher; it was a movement that sprang from a very human need to know more. A logical desire to question the status quo to move beyond tradition in order to discover new, and possibly better, ideas.
It is the opposite of conservatism, which is more central to our human character. We are inclined by nature toward what we already know and to protect that which has led to our survival. There is Cognitive Dissonance in all of us as we protect our inherited values, while feeling a need to explore. There is a Conservative/Liberal polarity which has moved us out of caves and into Outer Space; but only at a pace that we can accept.
That’s why I don’t dislike conservative ideology. I, personally, am very conservative in many ways. I like certain traditions in my life because they make me feel safe. But I worry (deeply) about the contentious divide between conservatism and liberalism that is defining modern political agenda.
Liberal minded people gravitate toward the disciplines of education and information (even entertainment) because those are the professions most closely connected to the pursuit of knowledge. This doesn’t mean that liberals are smarter or more educated and it doesn’t mean there aren’t great conservative teachers, broadcasters and scientists, but there is a different focus of intention.
What needs to be understood is that the pursuit of knowledge does not necessarily contain an agenda. This is what has derailed modern conservative thinking and has created the extreme view that sees socialism, hedonism, and defeatism in all things considered liberal. And this is why we are in trouble.
Republicans like Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Dole, even Reagan, if they exist at all anymore, are nearly silent. The Far Right who believe that American ideals are rooted in mono-theism, anti-intellectualism, and jingoism, have pulled even moderate Republicans into the glare of their extremism. They have beat the drum of fear so loudly for so long now that issues that should be long gone, still rear their irrational heads.
“Obama is a Kenyan.”
“He is fighting for Islam.”
“The economy is worse.”
And I hear this quite often: “Things have never been this bad.”
6 years ago, American troops were being sent to fight on two major fronts. One was a pre-emptive war based on fabricated information from an administration seeking to nation build.
The economy has stabilized and many markers are at all time highs. Unemployment is below pre recession levels. The highest percentage of Americans have health care in history. All of this without even the slightest bi-partisan cooperation. How “bad” things are is simply the echo of those who cannot, or will not, accept that things have gotten better, and could have gotten a LOT better without their own vindictive, damnation of a President, a party and an ideology focused on reality and not hyperbole.
The Midterm elections could very well fall prey to the real propaganda that has infected our airwaves, and politicians Hell-bent on heightening the neoliberal economics that created the greatest economic divide in history, leading to the Great Recession; De-regulation that minimizes creating production in favor of creating margins; Civil Rights legislation that excludes good Americans from the promise of freedom; Dangerous misunderstandings of common sense restrictions on deadly force; Imperialistic foreign policy that degrades our moral standing- This could be the direction of our country.
I’ll be gone before this “Great Experiment in Democracy”* has been undone by the perverted values of a Plutocratic America. I vote to protect my children. And theirs.