Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Q: What do conservatives conserve?

A: Conservatives conserve power and influence with those who already have power and influence.

There's a myth that conservatism is a form of caution, a guard against radical and dangerous change. Yet conservatives are all too willing to make radical changes as long as it meets their primary objective of further concentrating wealth and control in the hands of the fortunate. Regressive tax codes like the flat tax or national sales tax are fine examples of some of the downright radical schemes now being peddled to Americans by conservatives.

Conservatives make one exception to the conservation of power paradigm. Progressive forces that promote democracy and egalitarianism are a danger to the conservative principle of entitlement by birth and circumstance. Conservatives aim to strip power from these progressive individuals and organizations, and they aim to do so under the guise of a false egalitarianism. George Soros and labor unions, both crusaders for average Americans, are painted by conservatives as privileged parasites. Meanwhile, conservatives do all they can to weaken democracy, strengthen monopolies, and replace the free press with corporate media sycophants.

I believe that a man should be rewarded for his works, not for his status. Similarly, I believe no man should be penalized for his circumstance, whether rich or poor.

Conservatives see this as a dangerous idea. This is why they have opposed rights for women (e.g., property ownership, suffrage, divorce), rights for non-whites (freedom, suffrage), and rights for non-Christians. Always, they side with the privileged, and always, they find rationalizations for their position. Today's conservative justifies his cause by cherry-picking passages from the Bible in much the same way that Don Rumsfeld cherry picks pre-war intelligence.

Let us frame this debate the way it should be framed!

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