A lot of people use words in a casual, vague manner, and fail to see what they really mean. Worse, people often reach false conclusions by following paths from false assumptions. This is especially true with political debate. One of the big problems is the assumption that ‘Conservative’ means the same as ‘Republican’, that ‘Liberal’ means the same thing as ‘Democrat’, that the political parties calling themselves ‘Republicans’ and ‘Democrats’ are the same in meaning as the ideals referred to by those words, and that both ‘Republicans’ and ‘Democrats’ have the same ideals of America and its unique place in the world. All of those assumptions are false.
Here’s where it gets tricky. There are a lot of pundits who are quick to tell folks not only what they believe, but what their opponents believe. That’s usually a bad idea. To see what I mean, consider Scott Adams, the brilliant creator of the Dilbert comics and author of a number of best-selling books, including ‘Win Bigly,’ which explains Adams’ confidence in 2016 why Trump would win the White House. Adams emphasized that his confidence Trump would win was not because he was a conservative; Adams described himself as “an ultraliberal, and by that I mean liberals seem too conservative to me” (Introduction, page 4). Adams then goes on to discuss what he believes liberals and conservatives think on four key points, as follows:
“Generally speaking, conservatives want to ban abortion while liberals want it to remain legal. I go one step further and say that men should sideline themselves from the question and follow the lead of women on the topic of reproductive health.”
“Generally speaking, conservatives are opposed to legalization of marijuana whereas liberals are more likely to support it. I go one step further and suggest that doctors prescribe recreational drugs for old people to make their final years enjoyable.”
“When it comes to complicated issues about economics and foreign affairs, my opinion is that I never have enough data to form competent opinion. Neither does anyone else.”
“Generally speaking, conservatives think we live in a country where everyone already has equal opportunity. Liberals generally think the government should do more to guarantee equal opportunity. I go one step further and suggest considering slavery reparations for African Americans in the form of free college and job training, funded by a twenty-five year tax on the top 1 percent.”
(Adams, “Win Bigly”, pp. 4-5)
In all four of the issues, though I believe Adams’ position is ill-considered and wrong, he has the right to express his opinion as he chooses. But he is completely wrong in his assumptions about what conservatives ‘generally’ believe. Like many smart people, Adams thought through the issues from his own perspective without stopping to test his assumptions by asking people from other demographics about their experience, culture, and considered opinion. Here, for example, are my own thoughts as a conservative on the same four points:
• Generally speaking, conservatives do not consider abortion to be a right covered by the United States Constitution, and as such the question of abortion devolves to the states, as enumerated in the 10th Amendment. While there are many things we might like the federal government to do for us, we cannot twist the Constitution to say things it simply does not say – that way leads to weakening the whole Constitution and allows despots to claim power through usurpation.
• Generally speaking, conservatives treat drug laws as matters of public safety. A lot of old laws – created by liberals as well as conservatives – were drawn up when the possible effects of drug use, abuse, and addiction were not known. Conservatives therefore have a wide range of opinions regarding drug laws, and generally oppose federal laws regarding drug use, especially experimental medicines where lives may be lost if access is denied, but do support laws prohibiting illicit international and interstate transport of drugs, for reasons of border security and public safety (need for production safety protocols and inspection).
• Regarding complicated issues about economics and foreign affairs, we live in an information age, where data can be collected and analyzed to a reasonable degree, and history teaches what works and what does not. Conservatives therefore believe that individuals have both a right and a duty to evaluate political statements where they impact the economy and American interests, and criticize, even challenge, statements made from an apparent self-interest which deceives the public about intent and purpose.
• Generally speaking, conservatives believe we live in an imperfect world, one where good and bad things happen, and we should learn from both. While imperfect, the American system is far better than any other in the world or in history to provide equal opportunity. Conservatives consider that government has a responsibility to provide for the general welfare through an infrastructure which is available to all Americans, but the use of government powers to advance any one demographic at the expense of any or all others is utterly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of our nation.
Please note that my statements are made from my perspective as a lifelong conservative and from statements made by fellow conservatives I know. Note also that I do not attempt to speak for the liberal perspective on that question; that is arrogance and has no place in civil discourse.
By the way, before going on I do recommend reading “Win Bigly.” Adams makes some great observations about Trump’s persuasion skills and how he handles media attacks.
With that point made, I now address the differences I see between the Conservative and Liberal political positions, between Republicans and Democrats (the parties), and between Americans and Globalists. Keep in mind that I speak from the perspective of a Conservative Republican American.
While I call myself a lifelong Conservative, I also hold what I would consider some liberal opinions. This is because, in my opinion, there is a difference between conservative and liberal opinions, and Conservative or Liberal political alignment. Ironically, this comes from a common definition of the terms.
From my perspective, conservatism is essentially based on a desire to protect, and liberalism is essentially based on a desire for unrestrained license. Keep in mind the very great difference between liberalism and libertarianism. Both focus on liberty, but libertarianism includes a self-restraint imperative – my rights end where someone else’s rights begin. Liberalism has no such restraint. Yet in certain conditions I can agree with a liberal idea that does not accept limits. The American ideal, after all, promotes universal human rights, which is why we interfere with other nations’ internal affairs all the time. We generally believe today that slavery is evil anywhere, so that we oppose slavery anywhere in the world; there is no respect for a nation’s borders if they are doing evil as we see it. This is the motive for liberal activism – the desire to end evil. My ancestors, for example, enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War specifically to fight Slavery, a clearly liberal opinion and despite the violent character a clearly idealist position.
So in that context, why am I absolutely a conservative? Because in the pursuit of their ideals, Liberals have gone well past the limit of acceptable behavior. We have a federal government which countenances civil forfeiture of property without due process; we have laws – backed by the Supreme Court – which assume individuals have no absolute right to private property; we have laws which use taxpayer money to advance special interests with no benefit to the general public; wages are garnished in advance of income tax filing even when opposed by the taxpayer; media cannot be held accountable even when clearly guilty of deliberate lying to the public; Congress is filled with career politicians worth many times what ordinary Americans earn; the federal government is filled with career statists who are unelected yet cannot be fired. And on and on. Anyone familiar with how the United States was founded, the Bill of Rights and why they were included in the Constitution, would be furious with the abuse of power by so many in office and their staff. The nation needs protection from the political elite. The average taxpayer needs protection from the hordes of thieves demanding “redistribution” or just to seize the savings from those who earned it. I believe this is why most Americans consider themselves conservative. There was a time when we needed more liberals than conservatives, but today we need far more protectors than boundary-breakers.
So if there are more Conservatives than Liberals, why don’t Republicans trounce Democrats all the time? Sadly, it goes back to my point about career politicians. Republicans and Democrats alike promote big government, meaning both parties disrespect the right of taxpayers to keep their own money. This arrogance explains why so many Republicans promised to end Obamacare but made no attempt to actually end it – there was too much money to be made, personally, for each of the politicians involved. Take a look sometime at the net worth of members of Congress, and how it compares to when they entered office. The salaries don’t explain the fortunes, not even close. It can fairly be said that, corrupt or not, a great majority of politicians pay a lot more attention to getting rich than keeping their promises to the voters.
So if this means Republicans and Democrats are generally lying thieves, how are they different? Essentially, by whom they serve. Republicans serve military interests, domestic commercial corporate interests, and farms. Democrats, in comparison, focus on special-interest minority groups, major media, alternative energy and drug companies. The different focus explains the kinds of legislation each party supports, and – more importantly – explains why some bills get passed without complaint from the other sides. Deals get made because there is no direct conflict on that issue. Also, while party identification works as a kind of career branding for politicians in both parties, some Democrats truly align with Liberal values, and some Republicans truly align with Conservative or Libertarian values.
Finally, it’s important to understand the conflict between Americans and Globalists. To understand what I mean, I start by describing Globalists. Globalists start with Woodrow Wilson. The idea is that if everyone has a common reason to work together, there won’t be any more wars, or even serious conflicts between nations. To see how well that works in practice, just go back and see what happened with the League of Nations.
The problem is that global agreements only work when everyone follows the rules. In practice, that never actually happens. In fact, throughout history the United States has been cheated and sheared by nations all around the world, including many who pretend to be our friends. A lot of our “trade deficit” is due to differences in rules between those used by the United States and those used by our trading partners. Tariffs and special fees applied by Canada, China, et cetera, get ignored because the politicians would rather have a deal in place than look in effective by holding the other nations’ representatives to a standard of reciprocity.
Which brings us to Trump.
Ask yourself why Trump won.
Seriously, Donald Trump entered the Presidential race in 2015 with a history of real estate deals, some television fame as a game show host, and a lot of baggage as an arrogant blowhard.
Yet Trump blew away the field of seventeen major GOP candidates, then took down a Democrat who had spent her whole life planning how to become President.
So how did he do it?
Trump ran as the only American in the race.
Yes, that sounds demeaning to the other candidates, including Ted Cruz, who was my personal choice for President. But in 2016 we lived in a Globalist-dominated political landscape. Everything said or done was based on the idea that we had to think about other nations and cultures, ahead of our own and sometimes instead of our own. Globalism is based on the idea that community is superior to individuality, that Americans should not brag about their exceptionalism.
The United States is the greatest country the world has ever known, by any reasonable standard. But for a long time we have been sold the lie that we somehow owe everyone else a piece of our success. Wilson sold that lie, so did FDR, so did Obama.
Some fought back, though, most notably Reagan. Ronald Reagan was not perfect, but he was indisputably the greatest President the US had in the 20th Century. Yet for some reason, no one but Donald Trump compared himself to Reagan in the 2016 Presidential election. Remember the MAGA hats? Hokey sure, but the bright red ballcaps were distinctive, the ‘Make America Great Again’ an undeniable callback to Reagan, and wearing a MAGA hat was a clear statement of where you stood. MAGA was never about Trump, but about the mission. Trump used MAGA to gain support without making the election about himself.
Donald Trump paid attention to the complaints of ordinary Americans, and promised to address them. Simple as that. Liberals and Democrats align with Globalism and hate Trump, while – increasingly – Conservatives align with Americanism and are dragging Republicans to the side of Trump.