Recently there have been a couple scientific studies on the behavioral and biological differences between the people who align themselves as political conservatives or liberals (using US terminology). Both the University of Nebraska study and the U.C. Berkeley study pretty much confirm the classic definition for both. Liberals tended to filter new information through current conditions, formed new opinions and reacted less emotionally to change, which aligns with its classic definition. Conservatives tended to have stronger, negative reactions to perceived change and preferred static conditions, which also fits the classic definition. For me, as a liberal, I like to just think of conservatives the way Peter Griffin from The Family Guy put it while riding and elephant in a parade: “Hey, Lois, look. The two symbols of the Republican party: an elephant and a big fat white guy who’s threatened by change “
The definitions for liberal and progressive are the same as our stand. We believe in progress, moving forward with society as it evolves with laws that protect us fairly and equaly, that a smarter, wealthier and healthier greater good is best achieved by including everyone, by collectively helping those who need it and tolerating unpopular as well as popular differences.
So, conservatives, what do you conserve?
The best I can figure is you conserve what the greediest among the 1% wealthiest have gained in the past 34 years, since Ronald Reagan tipped the scales toward them and the rest of us got trickled down upon. If you are within that tiny group of the greediest of the 1% wealthiest and call yourself a conservative, I understand why. But to the rest of you, what do you conserve? You don’t conserve raw materials, which is what “c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t” means. Your motto is. “Drill those fossil fuels, baby, drill.” You don’t conserve money because the combined debt under the last three conservative Republican presidents is higher than the combined dept of every administration prior to Ronald Reagan. Your don’t want to fund road or bridge maintenance so you don’t want to conserve infrastructure. You oppose Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, tariffs, organized labor and the minimum wage so you don’t want conserve the economic and physical safety of babies, children, sick, working or retired people. (Notice how the Frank Luntz two-term buzz phrase of “compassionate conservative” has become but a quaint footnote.)
Many conservatives in Congress and presidential candidates say they want to take our country back. Is that historically back before most of our laws were established, back from this president because he is illegitimate to you or back from me and people like me? Because we disagree on most things and this is my country, too. Taking back implies you have an ownership or it’s a football game, neither of which is the case. Going back also implies the use of a time machine. If you have one, please use it and leave the rest of us to the country we have. No taksies backsies, either. But I am a helper so if you think 1960 is the place you’d like to go, watch a couple episodes of Mad Men and see how women, persons with disabilities or people of color were treated before you dial it back. (Or maybe that’s your template.)
I understand conservatives want to conserve their beliefs and thoughts and that is a difference between us because I am open to changing as I become more educated and gain understanding. And I know I have made some cheap jokes at your expense here but it’s my blog. But in the context of trying to understand what conservatives conserve, I could be more respectful if there was any validity to your intolerance of people who don’t share your political view, religion, sexual identity, socio-economic status, race, national origin or skin color. I could respect you more if you didn’t think you owned the words “liberty” and ”freedom” because neither is granted at the expense of mine, according to the Constitution. You don’t own that either or get to use just the parts you like, kind of like you use the Christian bible.
There just seems to be a lot of rage, hatred and bigotry from conservatives about most “others,” including but not limited to citizens of color, brown-skinned immigrants, LGBT citizens, Muslims, Jews, atheists, women, urban areas, environmentalists (or c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t-s) and vegans. And even if you don’t see it or deny it, there are a whole lot of racist remarks about President Obama. There is a level of disrespect to the office that is breath-taking and an absolute denial or outright lies about his record. Like John Fugelsang said about the conservative news’ channel, Fox so-called News: “Not racist but number one with racists.” If your bigotry is real, just own it because holding onto your beliefs, antiquated or not, is part of your brand.
I know the hot social issues for conservatives get a lot of media attention and ballot initiatives. But while your conservative politicians and the super rich donors have been tipping the tax and corporate laws in their very lucrative favor, they’ve been playing the rest of you who are fired up by your one issue, whether it’s women’s reproduction, guns, marriage or immigration. The people funding the conservative politicians don’t care about your well-being, they just can’t win a democratic election without you.
But we liberals care and because “liberal” also implies liberating, I’d like to offer you liberation from your corporate overlords. I’d like to liberate everyone from the shackles of international corporatists, students from college debt, absolutely everyone from hiding their true selves, money from D.C., the tax burden from the working people subsidizing multinational corporations, and liberate our taxes to build roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and parks, and liberate everyone from the lack of food, shelter, education, medical care, clean air and water.