Monday, March 1, 2010

The Death of Conservatism

I just finished reading a great book that I'd like to recommend to all of you. It's a short, stirring read by Sam Tanenhaus called "The Death of Conservatism."
I'm sure there's no question as to why this caught my attention, but what I read has educated me much on the past 50 years of conservative politics in this country.

As a moderate, unwilling to cling to any one side, I have to admit that I used to be a die hard liberal. At times, I still find myself whispering sweet anti-conservative nothings under my breath as I watch footage of Palin, Bush, Romney, Cheney or any other one of those fantastic examples of political smarts and integrity. I have to admit, however, that I was not that educated on my opponent. I knew basics and broad facts on issues and standpoints but I never really dug deeper to see the roots of this movement. I didn't understand the basis to which these neo-conservatives clung to, the past that brought them to the conservative politicians of today.

I obviously can't go through the entire book but I would like to share some quotes and pieces that I found very interesting. It may come as no surprise that history does indeed repeat itself and that this death of conservatism came from the birth after a liberal death. This liberal decline occurred in the mid to late 60s as the Democrats had and had enjoyed a long stint controlling Washington. The Democrats were becoming cocky in their comfortable position at the top and made many mistakes that the people found unforgivable and unacceptable, including Vietnam and race relations (or lack thereof). What I found interesting is that the conservatives, in order to combat the waning Democrats, felt it would be most beneficial to guide the Right further towards the Center...
In the closing pages of his book, Tanenhaus gives some friendly advice to the now waning Conservative constituents, the same pitfalls that got the liberals booted out of office 30 years ago: "...listening more closely to the arguments being put forth by the other side." Again, this doesn't mean acquiescing to all conservative or liberal demands, it means working together - holy shit, what a concept! And I'm not talking about lobbyists and deep pocketed politicians in Washington, I mean us.

He says in a closing remark: "Most of us are liberal and conservative: we cling to the past in some ways, push forward into the future in others, and seek to reconcile our most cherished notions and beliefs with the demands of unanticipated events."

Is this not true? Do we not all have two sides? That's not to say that I'm pro and anti abortion, it just means that I, for example, believe that illegal immigrants do not deserve to use of a system they do not put into. That is a classically conservative standpoint. I also believe that government needs to govern and can not do so by slashing its own ability through privatizing essential government functions. That is classically liberal.

I'm not the only one who sees the world with both eyes, am I?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've yet to fully decide on this one, but from what I've encountered so far, I must say that I don't know how much water the "illegals don't pay into the system" argument holds. They pay taxes on every single thing they buy, just like everybody else. No, they by and large don't pay taxes on income, but in most cases they don't make enough money to really be taxed all that hard to begin with. In order to avoid notice, they also tend to avoid many of the public resources that a citizen would use, for fear of being found out and sanctioned. The idea that they are taking jobs that could go to Americans is equally groundless, as most Americans wouldn't deign to do the lion's share of work that an immigrant trying to eke their way along in a new country is willing to do. You can't honestly tell me that, if every single illegal immigrant was deported tomorrow, that there would be ticker tape parades as flowing crowds of Americans flood into overnight shifts at fast food joints, stand in front of Home Depot hoping to get randomly chosen to do backbreaking labor for sub-minimum wage, or sell oranges and roses at freeway offramps. It simply wouldn't happen. Illegal immigrants, as far as I can tell, are not getting any kind of sweetheart deal out of being in America. They work their ass off and ask for little in return.

When did America get rid of the part that said to send the world's tired, hungry, and huddled masses?