Saturday, October 16, 2010

wag more, bark less, part two...the cons

In part one I talked about the divide I see politically on a national scale, and some questions that may shed light on why those differences exist. In this part two I will attempt to give what I think are the typical conservative answers to the questions.

1. World view - they view the world in terms of good people and bad people, with very little, if any, gray in between. They see that there are good people (themselves included), bad people, and then anyone that has not been firmly established in either camp. Those in-between are seen as suspect and presumed to be bad unless verified as good. They believe that people have to prove their innocence and they see life as a constant battle between good and evil, no rest for anyone.

2. Theologically they tend to be legalistic....believing that God is as strict as they are...ready to bang heads of those who step out of line...scripture is just a list of dos and don'ts and anything not clearly marked as either is off limits or must be individually checked out with God through prayer. This fear carries over into their political beliefs- hence the emphasis on law and order.

3. They view the government's role as protecting the good people from the bad people, and maintaining good social order, nothing more. They see it as the problem (to quote the conservative hero , Ronald Reagan), or the enemy , or as a necessary evil, separate from the people, not a part of it. In essence they see government as a hired gun, nothing more.

4. They are strict constructionists as far as constitutional interpretation. They share some version of the view of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who has stated that the Constitution should be viewed through the original intent of the founders and that it is fixed in time. Their focus is on the enumerated powers and not allowing Congress to expand beyond what is expressly listed. They also put great weight on the 10th Amendment, that all powers not specifically designated to the federal government or prohibited to the states, are reserved for the states and to the people . They argue for a smaller and very much limited government.

5. Understandably they focus on:1.war and national security(protecting against those bad outside the country); 2. law enforcement (national, state, local) protecting against those bad within the country); and , 3. gun rights (making sure that when the other two entities break down that there is personal protection against the bad). Anything else is out of bounds. While they say they want government out of their lives they make exceptions and these are all in keeping with their worldview. Drug laws are okay, including policies against medical marijuana, because they see those who use drugs as bad. Laws that discriminated against gays, like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or DOMA (against gay marriage) are see as okay, because they view gays as bad people. Union restrictions are seen as okay because they basically want businesses left to do whatever they want because they see business as good and as the fountain of freedom and democracy.

6. They elevate the elected branches over anything or anyone appointed - courts are seen to function only as an arbiter for good people and a punisher of bad. Thus mandatory sentencing guidelines are popular, since they don't want judges to have leeway , that would let bad people get away. They see criminal justice as being "lock away the bad guys for as long as you can", "anyone accused of a crime is automatically guilty". They view the courts as inferior to the legislative and executive branches. They accuse justices of being activist if they attempt any sort of judicial review -elevating the "peoples' will" over the rights of minorities.

7. Their view the relationship between the people and the government as a contract. This is not just because of their general pro-business outlook (stating "government should be run like a business) . But also because they view government as a necessary evil , a hired gun brought in to confront and control the bad in society. And hired help need only a contract - one that can be abrogated at any time when the hirer decides the hired is not performing his or her duties correctly. Basically an an employer/employee or master/slave relationship. Hence the"Contract with America".

8. They use the term "we the people" to denote common folk, people like them, but then describe anybody different as "out of the mainstream"...in other words, abnormal. So it would seem to me that when they talk about we the people, they only mean the "good", not everybody.

I know this is in some respects a broad generalization. I have seen trends and common themes come up in conservative talk throughout my life, from Nixon/Agnew, through Reagan, and again under Bush I and II. Recently there has been a lot more fear talk, which I think re-enforces the good/bad conflict that they see in society - including references to the "culture wars" (a term I particularly hate). This is why I believe these are their answers to the questions I have raised. And it explains some of what may at first appear to be inconsistency in their statements -like in terms of personal freedom (it is freedom for the good only, it would seem)

Does this describe you? It's not me...more on that in part 3.

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