Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Merits of Conservatism.

I am an economic and social liberal. I am pro same-sex marriage, pro-choice, pro welfare state, support strong personal and political actions to combat global warming, and I am even a vegetarian since I don't want to support the cruelty and barbarity of factory farming.

Naturally then I oppose the conservatives when they champion the right-wing agenda. But since it is Christmas-time and I am constantly reminded in song and greeting card of peace, joy, and unity. I thought I would here state what I take to be right about the conservative ideology. I think Conservatives have the following correct:

* Strong families and good values are key to a healthy society
* In some cases private enterprise and free markets are positive factors in society
* Personal responsibility and accountability need to be insisted upon
* In some respects, less government is best.

Let me clarify, when they argue that family values preclude gay marriage and condemn teen mothers, I vehemently disagree. When they fight for less regulation on the market I dissent. When they think personal responsibility means the abolition of social service and demand that people "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" I protest. When they think less government means the privatization of social security and the crippling of funding to public programs and services I set myself dead against them.

However, there are some legitimate positions and values in the conservative world view. I think that we liberals could gain much by realizing that. By not condescending conservatives and trying to find the common ground with which we can begin a constructive dialog with them.

If we give up, if we cannot reach across the ideological divide to work with each other, I fear greatly for the future!


  1. I thought I'd add that I realize that in inviting Pastor Warren to lead the invocation Obama is perhaps trying to find commong ground and reach across the divide, as I suggest we should do.
    This makes me question my last post. That's the glory of blogging, it keeps up with the freshness of thought.
    I am still wondering, however, is Obama comprimising too greatly? Or is he genuinely and perhaps intelligently behaving bipartisanly?
    Granted we must work with others who differ from us in convictions and ideology? But how far can we go with that?

  2. Forget "conservatism," please. It has been Godless and thus irrelevant. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    "[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It .is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican

  3. Hello John,
    Thank you four your thoughtful comment. I am, myself, a fierce advocate of separation of church and State, so I naturally think of the matter a bit differently than you do.
    I also don't believe in a Deity who will punish us for not worshiping him - not that you do necessarily - but your comment could be taken that way.
    I am a self-professed liberal, but have a measure of respect for certain conservative positions and perspectives. I also deeply respect religous belief, though I tend to separate religous belief from political dialog.
    I will have to agree with you on one point though: it seems to me that the more secular conseratives often use and abuse religous conservatives, claiming to represent them and speak for them at each election, than dropping them immediately after they win their vote. This I think is reprehensible behavior on their part.
    Again, I am on the progressive side, so I will see the matter quite differently than you do, but I appreciate your insight and thoughtfullness.

  4. With all due respect, I have to add this John: do we really believe in a God that is so petty and vindictative that he will damn us and punish us with war, plague, and job loss, because we don't grovel before him? Such a God sounds to me a very cruel and despotic tyrant; not at all the God who is love that I was raised to believe in. Not all the God who is revealed in the Jesus who cared for the poor, championed the outcasts, forgave those who harmned him, eschewed violence, vengeance, hatred, and greed.
    The question is simple: are we to find the divine in biogtry, exclusion, self-righteousness, and hate; or in love, inclusion, forgiveness, peace, and reconcilation.
    In short, I'm not convinced that to worship God is to say the right prayers or hold the right beliefs - rather to worship God is, in the words of the Prophets: "to love righteousness, to seek justice, to walk humbly with your God," and "to care for the orphan, shelter the widow," and finally "to love your neighbor as you love yourself."


Comments from many different points of view are welcome. But I will not publish any comments that are hateful, insulting, or filled with profanity. I welcome and encourage dialogue and disagreement but will not publish any hate speech.