Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Real Conservatives Can No Longer Vote Republican

Conservatism is a political philosophy heralding back to the founding principles of the country. For example...

Conservatives believe that it is the nature of even benevolent government to be corrupt. It is therefore important to keep government small and limit it's power. Conservatives believe that civil liberties are paramount. They believe that individuals are better able to determine their best interests for themselves than government. They believe that freedom of the press and freedom of speech are keystones of democracy. Conservatives believe that a competitive free market is the only effective way to weed waste and corruption out of the economy. Finally, conservatives believe in financial responsibility. Not only is it simple common sense that one should not spend more money than one has, it also acts as a check to keep government small and thereby limit government corruption.

Real conservatives don't believe that democracy can ever be, or should ever be, some kind of Utopia. Real conservatives understand that when you live in a free society people are not only free to achieve and succeed, they are also free to be stupid, make mistakes, crash, and sometimes even burn. The price of liberty is often safety. And that's OK with Conservatives, because Conservatives believe that freedom is worth dying for. If I might paraphrase Ben Franklin, "Anyone who would surrender liberty for safety deserves neither".

Republicans pay lip service to this philosophy, but every chance they've had to deliver they've betrayed their own platform in the name of political expediency, which in today's political environment means pandering to the prejudices of it's constituency and shaping policy to maximize campaign contributions.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of Republican "Faux Conservatism":

The Patriot Act:
In one fell swoop we've basically run the constitution through a shredder. The government can now secretly arrest an American citizen, hold him indefinitely without ANY due process of law, and torture him at will.

The Drug War: Apparently individuals are free to make mistakes EXCEPT where consuming drugs is concerned. I don't even know where to begin. This betrays almost every tenant of conservatism.

Free Speech Zones: Thank You Dubyah for Free Speech Zones. Apparently you have the right to speak your mind, just don't do it in earshot of anyone that matters or you can be arrested.

The Deficit: Republicans haven't been social conservatives for generations, but they were at least fiscally conservative back in the old days. That all changed with the Reagan administration. Reagan replaced "Tax and Spend" democratic economic policy with an infinitely less responsible "Borrow and Spend" model. There was a moment of hope under the Clinton administration when the debt at least stopped growing (BTW liberals, before you break your arm patting yourselves on the back keep in mind that Clinton couldn't have done it without the help of the Republicans and the leadership of Newt Gingrich), but Dubyah pissed those accomplishments away in pretty short order. It didn't help that he sat on his hands while Wall Street played fast and loose with trillions of dollars right under the noses of his political sycophants in the SEC. Then, when there was a real crisis in the form of an economic crash the coffers were empty.

Health Care: Health care in this country is a monopoly. It is illegal to compete with health care and health insurance providers. This is cozy for the health care industry that's getting rich and for the politicians that are enjoying generous kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions, but it's leaving the rest of us in a bit of a pickle. What really pisses me off is that they are pretending that "privatized" health care is in some way true to the tenants of capitalism, when in fact it's been little more than a cartel for generations.