I am have been thinking about the word ”conservative” lately and how I thought it defines me as far as fiscal things go and how it seems to define many of my friends as a general philosophy. I know like everything else you can’t put all conservatives in the same box but there seems to be some common traits I assign to that label. Let’s start out with the basic definition:
- a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas
- resistant to change
- having social or political views favoring conservatism
- unimaginatively conventional
- avoiding excess • a conservative estimate
- conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class
In the past I have identified myself as a fiscal conservative. From a governing standpoint I want to make sure that the money I send to Washington in taxes to do the people’s business is wisely spent. I don’t treat my money haphazardly and I don’t want my government to do that either. But after looking at the basic definition above maybe I think I need to find a new label. I am definitely not reluctant to accept fiscal changes or new ideas about monetary policies, in fact I would embrace one if I thought it would solve some of our problems. I definitely would not call myself unimaginatively conventional when it comes to money or anything else for that matter! If you have read much of what I have said in the blog I’m sure you would agree with that. Definition 5 is kind of muddled and without meaning to me so I won’t go there. The standards of the middle class seem to change on a daily basis especially as the conservative group continues to shrink.
But the definitions above do seem to describe many of my friends. They, for the most part, fear change instead of embracing it. Many seem to continue to live in the limelight of the Reagan years. They hate all the change in the last twenty years; especially change brought on by the “liberals”. Yeah, many of my friends are unimaginatively conventional.
Well, I seem to have decided that the traditional definition of the word “conservative” does indeed describe many of my less than progressive friends but doesn’t hack it when I apply it to myself for fiscal matter. So, what should I call myself? Maybe fiscally prudent progressive. That has kind of a nice ring to it. From this day forward I am a FPP. Conservative describes those who hate or at least adamantly resist change and that is definitely not me. But I will kind of hold on to that label for some of my less progressive friends….
“Can we make legislation with enough teeth in them for conservatives and compassion for liberals?”
I heard the above phrase, or at least something close to it, from a news commentator recently. I wish I could cite the source but I really don’t remember who it was. But the phrase struck me as maybe a primary difference between these two groups.
Conservatives seem to be much more concerned about “law and order” than about being altruistic. They want to make sure that no one gets anything that they haven’t worked for or at least earned in one way or another. Liberals on the other hand are willing to give people the benefit of doubt and just don’t assume that everyone needing help is just gaming the system.
I am totally sick of the “slippery slope” that my conservative friends so often cling to!!
If I hear another person give me a slippery slope story I just might punch them. The idea of the slippery slope consumes so much of their lives. It is the center point for their current stands against gun regulation. It is the center point for their current stands of excluding anyone from their religious circles who don’t totally align with them. It is the center point of their current stands on taxes.
Nothing makes a man broad-minded like adversity - Will Rogers
I can certainly understand this quote from Will. The adversity in my life, although coming more frequently than I would like, has certainly made me more broad-minded. Coming from humble beginning has made me sensitive to the daily plight of the homeless and financially challenged around me. Going deaf in mid-life has made me more aware of the challenges others face with handicaps every day. Being asked to leave a church because I didn’t have the “right” beliefs has made me aware of all those who are gun-shy about anything spiritual. More…
I just visited the blog of one of my Conservative friends. Like so many others he claims he is an independent but everything on his blog has a VERY right leaning slant. My friend is currently ranting about the Wall Street protests. He claims they are a vast conspiracy with a collective mentality. That is someone other than them is telling them everything to do and say. They have no mind of their own or they wouldn’t be protesting against these things. He evidently has spent hours and hours studying the dialog and transcripts of each the Republican presidential debates and goes into them in long drawn out details on his daily blog.
My Conservative friend’s life seems to be centered around everything political. There seems to be little left for anything else in his life. He even mentions that he should “get a life” but jokingly admits he can’t help himself or so he says. The underlying purposes for this fixation seems to be that my friend just can’t stand the idea of anyone getting something they haven’t worked for or haven’t earned. I find this to be a rather frequent case for many with his political leanings. It seems they would rather see fifty families starve rather than allow one person to game the system. What a sad perspective to live life with. The ironic thing is that between the lines it sounds like my friend is on some sort of disability and is probably receiving some monetary payments in that regard. I’m sure he believes that he is one of the few who actually deserve it.
I have several other Conservative friends who more or less mirror this particular friend’s attitude and behavior and even quite the same rhetoric. I regrettably admit that I know some people who I am pretty sure are gaming the system. That is they are receiving unemployment benefits without really looking for a job. They are probably receiving food stamps as well. But I also know many many others who definitely need a hand up in their current situations. It greatly saddens me to see so much need in the world around me.
But what saddens me the most is that there are people who call themselves evangelical Christians who also strictly align to my Conservative friend’s agenda. I as a follower of Jesus Christ read his words almost daily and what I read has nothing to do with keeping people from getting something they don’t deserve or have not worked for. In sentence after sentence of what I read I actually see the opposite: “Do for the least of these or I will not know you”, ”Give someone who asks the shirt off your back”, “blessed are the poor”….
My Conservative friend really does need to take the words seriously to “GET A LIFE”. Being constantly fixated on “what’s mine is mine and keep your hands off it” is a very say and detrimental way to live. I worry about my Conservative friend from time to time. He is going to give himself a heart attack with all the dark feelings he constantly carries around inside him. He really does need to get a life outside his very negative feelings.
But what do I know…..
This post is going to start a new category for me entitled “My Conservative Friend”. It will be about some conversations I have had with some of my conservative friends. It will also be about some of the conversation I have yet to have with them. Yes, even though they deem me a liberal I still have some conservative friends; in fact some of them are very conservative. So the posts in the category will be put all of them into the persona of “My Conservative Friend”. Their real identities will remain anonymous to protect the guilty (ha).
One thing that my conservative friend can go on and on about is “how so many people get away without paying taxes. He often labels those in that category “takers” while he and his friends are the “makers”. He often rants about how almost half the people in the U.S. don’t pay any taxes and more than half of these “freeloaders” receive at least one federal benefits. I’m not sure if he learned this from Rush or Glen or one of his other conservative patriarchs.
One obvious group in his “taker” category are people like me. I am retired and no longer drawing a paycheck. But like most retirees out there I spent forty years in the paycheck world and during that time I contributed thousands of dollars to keep our country operating. I also gave forty years worth of income to the Social Security Fund of which I am now drawing from. But I guess my friend at least according to his statistics still deems me a “freeloader”. My friend is also getting up there in years so I guess he will have to include himself in the freeloader/taker category soon. Does that mean he can no longer be a member of the conservative club? Just wondering.
My friend just loves spouting statistics that seem to support his opinions. Yes 55% of the U.S. population might pay no federal taxes (according to his definition) but here are some statistics that he either does not know or just chooses to ignore.
- The top 1% of the U.S. population controls over 35% of the nations net worth
- The top 20% of the U.S. population controls over 60% of the nations net worth
- The top 50% of the U.S. population controls over 90% of the nations net worth
So given these facts my conservative friend gets so upset because those who have less than 10% of the nations worth don’t pay federal taxes. Of course these people spend everything they have just to survive in today’s country. Is it too much to ask those that control 90 cents of every U.S. dollar to pay more? Those who benefit the most from U.S. prosperity should pay the most. But my conservative friend seems to ignore the fact that everyone who has a paycheck pays social security taxes. Everyone who buys gasoline pays a form of federal taxes. And of course those 50% who only control 10% of the wealth of the country pay the same taxes as their richer neighbors when they go to the grocery store or any other retail establishment. Statistics are nice but try to learn the whole story instead of stopping when you think you can prove your point.
Here is to you my conservative friend. I wish you all the best but I do hope that you will take the blinders off once in a while and try to look at the world as it really is. If you promise to do that I will do the same. Neither one of us have it completely right and whether you want to believe it or not we could actually learn something from each other if we could just stop narrow-minded thinking and just listen for a while. I know those in today’s congress have lost that ability but I pray that you still have it.
But what do I know.