Last weekend, I searched for some missing papers in my office. My method of doing this is to clean files, shelves, anyplace that has papers. It was a productive day: I filled a huge recycling can, and I found a couple of clippings on conservatism.
The first one is from Eugene’s Register-Guard on New Year’s Day 2005 after George W. Bush was Time’s “Man of the Year.” (Actually, the RG got it wrong because Time finally changed the term to “Person of the Year” in 1999.) Bush’s selection may not have been an honor; Vladimir Putin received the same “honor” three years later.
To quote the editorial:
“Conservatism used to be about the past. Conservatives resisted change, valued traditions and defended institutions. A Conservative foreign policy resisted foreign entanglements, while a conservative domestic program aimed for small government and balanced budgets.
“Bush’s conservatism is about the future, and about provoking change. Conservative disdain for the nation’s secular institutions, excepting the military, is palpable—schools, the media, the courts, the executive agencies of government and others are regarded as needing to be torn down and rebuilt. A conservative foreign policy has become one that is assertive, muscular and unilateral. A conservative domestic policy is one that favors tax cuts without regard to deficits.
“The new conservative vision of America’s place in the world is being tested in Iraq. Bush believes American power can bring about a democratic transformation in that country, creating an example that would ripple throughout the Middle East. It’s an ambitious project, and in 2004 it didn’t go as well as its architects hoped. Bush’s new conservatism is being tested at home as well as the federal government attempts to simultaneously sustain large tax cuts, steep increases in spending and record deficits…
“Politics will never be the same.”
Even a Democratic president hasn’t been able to change some of these problems in the United States.
The second piece came from 2004. Mark Oberzil of Forest Grove (OR) wrote the following:
I am a conservative. I believe in staying solvent and out of debt.
I am a conservative. I believe in keeping my nose out of other people’s business, their nations and their bedrooms.
I am a conservative. I believe in conserving our assets and our resources — our air, our land, our water. Accordingly, I don’t support or engage in wastefulness, inefficiency or lavish excesses.
I am a conservative. I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore I support appropriate government spending on such things as infrastructure, schools, social welfare and crime prevention, because in the long run it’s cheaper and more effective.
I am a conservative. If I am attacked, I respond appropriately and conservatively. I do not swat mosquitoes with dynamite.
I am a conservative. I don’t deal falsely or prematurely with facts.
I am a conservative. I understand the purposes of various institutions. It is the job of government to govern, the job of religion to address spiritual needs, and the job of business to secure profits by producing needed goods and services. I do not confuse these institutions.
I am a conservative. I understand my position in the world and that my opinions are not the only valid ones.
I do not have an exclusive claim on what is right, good or patriotic, and those who disagree with me are not automatically evil traitors.
What’s really weird, though, is that I’ve always thought these things…
… but now everyone calls me a liberal!
A more recent letter to the Eugene Register Guard from conservative W.K. O’Connor, “How conservatives can gain respect”:
“A few thoughts after being subjected to the Aug. 6 dog-and-pony debate by Republican presidential contenders:
“When conservatives abandon efforts to prevent women from having abortions; stop refusing to expand Medicaid (might help the poor — can’t have that); stop pounding on deporting illegal immigrants (bigotry toward Latinos); show some semblance of social conscience by giving back what they’ve taken from food stamp and nutrition programs for poor single mothers and elderly people by closing a tax loophole for billionaires (horrors!); halt their blatant, continuing war on minority voters by taking voting rights from millions of people who have voted for 30, 40 or 50 years (the most elemental right in a democracy); cease lying about global climate change; quit supporting private ownership of guns nobody needs, and stop stripping schools of funds they need for education — not to mention their blatant racism and homophobia — then I would respect them.
“That may make me sound like a liberal. I’m not.
“But the Republican Party my family grew up with doesn’t exist anymore, being now driven by religious wackos who subvert the Constitution.
“Our democracy is in decline and is being driven further into oblivion by a billionaire oligarchy. Unless the people stand up and restore some sanity, we’re simply accelerating the process.
“’Ours is a problem in which deception has become organized and strong; where truth is poisoned at the source; one in which the skill of the shrewdest brains is devoted to misleading a bewildered people’” — American journalist Walter Lippmann.”
Connor isn’t alone in his disgust for the GOP. Approval rating for the Republican party has gone down nine points since January to 32 percent, just two-thirds of the 48 percent approval of the Democratic party. Republicans brought down the rating with their drop from 86 percent approval in January to the current 68 percent who see their own party positively.
By 53 percent to 31 percent, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me” than the GOP. The Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45 percent to 29 percent). The blue part is ahead in ability to handle these areas as well:
- Environment (a margin of 53% to 27%)
- Abortion and contraception policies (50% to 31%)
- Education (46% to 34%)
- Health care (46% to 36%)
- Foreign policy (41% to 38%)
If true conservatives disagree with the leaders of the Republican party, they need to take it over in the same way that the Tea Party hijacked the GOP over a decade ago.