When George Bush in 2000 said he was a “compassionate conservative”, my first thought was there is no such thing. But then after some thoughtful meditation I had to take back those words. I must admit that compassion, at least beyond a minimum level, seems to be pretty far away from most in the GOP. They seem to be much more concerned about the top 1% than the bottom 20%. Its been a while since I collected the quote below but I’m pretty sure it came from Jim Wallis at Sojourners just before he retired from that organization.
When my oldest daughter, Hannah, was in elementary school she asked me to explain the difference between conservative and liberal. I replied, “It’s too complicated.” She said, “Try me.” So I told her my best description was a metaphor, that of life as a high-wire act. Liberals are worried that without a net below the high-wire act of life, the performer may die or suffer when they fall. Conservatives are worried that if a net is built below, the performer may not be concerned enough about falling and use the net as a hammock. She paused for a moment and responded, “Why not build a trampoline below, so if they fall it will send them right back up?” Indeed.
I love the definition of liberal/conservative he gave his daughter but I loved her response even more. She seems wise way beyond her youthful years. It is not that conservatives are necessarily unconcerned for those who fall on hard times. It seems more about making sure they don’t get lazy with what they are provided. It is more a a skeptic/pessimistic view of life they are for the most part famous for. They just can’t help themselves in that regard. 🙂 I personally know quite a few people in the bottom 20% and I don’t think any of them want to live there for any longer than necessary. They are for the most part very hard working people. As the old saying goes they sometimes need a hand up rather than a hand out.
If we ever get some sanity back into our political processes maybe we can turn the net into a trampoline. When a person loses his job for whatever reason we are there to help take care of their family while they re-train or do what is necessary to get another job. Free education, as Bernie pointed out, would go a long way toward that end.
Maybe when the conservatives quit fighting the liberals just because they have different solutions they might come together in compromise to do what is best for the people. Why not a trampoline that will get them right back on their feet????