Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Liberals, Conservatives, and Moderates

I am a bit of a question mark person — still figuring things out, straddling the fence, not holding strong and hard political ideologies. At heart, I think I am what in Canada used to be called a Progressive Conservative. In my way of thinking, conservatives are careful people who look before they leap and who are fiscally responsible. Progressives have a modicum of social conscience; they have some commitment to fairness and opportunity and don't wish to leave the less advantaged too far in the dust. So, I have always thought it a pretty good thing to be a progressive conservative.

A number of years ago, our provincial Progressive Conservative party was hijacked by the neo cons. The neo cons borrowed money to pay for tax cuts. They made sure that the common person experienced a little, and I do mean a little, tax relief — at first. In other words, they bought the masses cheaply, with their own money, in order to offer much more generous portions for the well-heeled. They did a lot of other brash, non-cautious things, which don't bear elucidation here and now.

This is the new conservatism: a type a radicalism which is neither progressive nor conservative in my opinion. This is what I cannot be. I cannot, for example, be supportive of leaders who claim to be Conservative or Christian or Christian Conservatives but who are itching to wage war, itching so badly that they cannot wait for consensus or fact-finding, itching so badly that they construct false justification for their actions.

I say that, however, to illustrate, at least in part, why I cannot identify with what I see to be a new, mean-spirited, self-righteous conservatism that has divided that great country to the south and now threatens its northern neighbour. I resent the new conservatism, which I believe is neither genuine nor conservative. I resent it for it tends to force me into the liberal camp, where I don't necessarily fit with total comfort.

So it is that I was somewhat surprised to read Mel's blog today. I was surprised to find that she feels judged and condemned by liberals. This is her experience, and it must, therefore, be true. It is not my experience, however. For the past few years, it is my experience that it is the new conservatives who are the strident ideologues. It is they who have, by and large, co-opted the mass media. To me, they are the ones who are smug with trite answers and self-righteous pomposity.

Now, that's just me and my interpretation. That's how I see it as a former and, I believe, genuine conservative who has been pushed to the other side. Do liberals fight back? Of course! But it is my rather pedestrian opinion that they do fight back, that they do not carry the offensive.

That's just my take on a difficult and divisive topic. Part of the difficulty is that I write from a Canadian perspective, and within that context, an Ontario perspective. I write as one who has been governed by a provincial neo con regime. It was regime that thrived on division rather than consensus. It honoured doctors but relegated nurses. It supported cops but vilified and trod upon teachers. It toadied to the rich but kicked the poor. I write from that particular context, and, therefore, find Mel's personal perceptions to be foreign to me.

So, here's what I am beginning to think.

I am beginning to speculate that, like me, there are a lot of moderates who have been pushed into one camp or the other. Do you think it possible that Moderate Mel is reacting to liberals on one extreme fringe and that Moderate Anvilcloud is reacting to conservatives on the other extreme fringe? Do you think that Moderate Mel and Moderate Anvilcloud may, in point of fact, have more in common with each other than they might have with the extremists in each of their own camps?

That's what I have to offer to the discussion. What about you?



Melodee said...

I think you're on to something. I resent being judged by the ultra-conservative Christian far-right wing group as much as I resent being assumed to be a part of such a group by the theologically and politically liberal camp. And I especially don't like the assumption that either group is less educated or smart than the other. We're talking about viewpoints, not IQs.

Pilgrim said...

My dad has never voted. He grew up Amish, then Mennonite. He was taught strict separation between church and state, and he belonged to the church. God raises up the rulers He chooses. (To this day, most Amish either don't vote, or vote only in very local [e.g., township) elections.] At the same time, there was an emphasis on mission outreach and helping the needy. Maybe there would be more Christian unity if we all practiced this for a year or two. I myself, as a Christian, was very conflicted about voting in the last election, and I know I wasn't the only one.

The Catharine Chronicles said...

I think the problem with being polarized is that, once it happens, it's really hard to come back together. I just don't see how America will ever come back together again, now that only one group believes in using God as it's sledgehammer, and the other believes that it's cornered the market on intellectual superiority.

It just seems hopeless to me.


Dale said...

What do I think? I think war is bad. I think feeding and housing the poor is good. I think teachers should stop holding hostage the parents of this province and get back to teaching our children. I think doctors and nurses and teachers and RAILROADERS are paid enough. I think if our government took the obscene amount of money they plan to spend on a shrine to sin in Windsor (a casino) and opened a few new schools or increased hospital funding, or repaired the potholes on the 401, they'd be doing something to crow about.
That's what I think, Anvilcloud.

But I don't dare wax political on my own blog. Remember the sparks that flew last summer? So I'm venting here. Safer.

OK. Deep cleansing breath now. Ahhhhh.......

Christi said...

I think I am pretty much in the middle, but a little closer to being liberal, which I consider myself. However, my hubby is in the middle, but way over on the conservative side. He is much more into all of the politics of everything, and I would rather just know what I believe in. I don't really think I fit anywhere, b/c what I believe to be the ideology of liberalism is not what is practiced. Liberals abuse the idealistic ideas they fight for, and conservatives abuse theirs as well. I think politics are a bunch of bunk. I would like to think I don't judge people based on their beliefs and choices of "sides", but sometimes I am surprised to find that certain people I know follow the camps that they do.

Dora said...

Yes :)

I don't lump Mel into the negativity that I feel towards those who are screwing our govt to shreds by blurring church/state and padding their own pockets while men die for what?

We can't get past the polarization and name calling - and I'm guilty of it too.

-epm said...

Well said Anvilcloud.

...I could have left it at that, but I decided to blather on endlessly :)

My personal politics and world view lean more toward the progressive/liberal camp. When I write on my own blog I tend to take on a more, shall we say, spirited voice than I would in person. When I rant, I try to rant at those in positions of power -- the powerful who affect the lives of the powerless -- and not workaday citizens. I try to distinguish between the Republican (neo con) leadership and the larger Republican body. I absolutely abhor the term Christan conservative and prefer the more accurate term (in my opinion) sectarian conservative or the more pedantic ultra-far-right-wing fascist sectarian conservative.

OK. I went too far. Sorry.

I believe scientists should not try to teach me religion, and I believe ministers should not try to teach me science.

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman (not a brother and sister, that's just gross), and I also believe committed gay couples should have some civil protections.

I believe abortions are a regrettable and, at times, tragic medical procedure, and I believe there are times a woman should not be forced to bring a fetus to term.

I think abstinence is, by definition, the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and I believe we need a couple of backup plans as well.

I believe end of life medical decisions are just that: medical decisions. I believe there's a difference between clinging to life and crawling toward death.

I believe governments should promote the general welfare of it's citizens and not cede this responsibility to the discretion of private industry.

I believe this is the middle ground in which most Americans (and possibly Canadians) stand. All we're arguing about are the boundaries, although some people will relentlessly cling to the poles at either extreme.

Heather Plett said...

Great post, AV. I agree with you - I'm one of those moderates who feels a little pushed and pulled these days. It's especially challenging in the current Canadian context where you don't know WHOM you can trust. The Liberals betrayed us, but, as you say, the Conservatives frighten us with their propensity toward the far right. Whaddaya gonna do?

I've had the good fortune of working closely with a few good politicians who showed real integrity. I only wish there were more of those around.