Saturday, September 18, 2010

Terms of Endearment

As an evil Conservative, I have grown used to being called names over the years, or as Shakespeare would put it, "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". With the revitalization of conservatism in the days leading up to the November elections (and the potential of a more conservative Congress this year) however, the pace of such name calling is reaching an almost fevered pitch.

Take your pick of the appellation, recidivist, fascist, sexist, and racist are equally and constanly put forward; each intended to divert attention from a valid point of view by demonizing it (though the implication that all Conservatives are white and male seems rather disingenuous). The hope (if not expectation) of such tactics however is that by using this wildly inaccurate characterization of the practitioners of Conservatism, little or no attention will be paid to what are mostly common sense concepts, and the entire movement can be disregarded. In the rush to such demonization, there is some natural confusion that seems to occur during this process. 

For example, liberal Democrats often confuse the concept of Conservative with Republican; which is natural enough, since historically the "Grand Old Party" stood for conservative fiscal and social principles (which amusingly enough is also known as "classical liberalism"). Recent history however, has shown there are far fewer differences between the actions and agendas of Republicans and Democrats in Congress than there are between those of Conservatives and Liberals. 

These attacks are not about any such attempts at rational discussion or reasoned debate however, but about winning elections. Complex concepts cannot be encapsulated in simple sound bites, and must therefore be recast to do so. The result, as we have all become far to aware of these days, is that like love and war, all's fair in poltical campaigns.

This is not the end of the misrepresentation however. Not being content with assigning a faulty sobriquet, it also appears that insult must be added to injury in the case of conservative thinkers by adding the concept of fear in the psychological sense to the attacks. These wanna-be analysts seem intent in assigning imagined psychoses of Xenophobe, Homophobe, and most recently Islamophobe to the mind of a Conservative. Apparently a lack of agreement in any way or with any part of the beliefs systems espoused by a fringe group of liberals constitutes the rabid fear of the threat of such beliefs. 

In fact however, one could easily make the case that attacks of this nature to show that the actual fear involved is one held by those opposing Conservative thinking (though I suspect that the term "Conservativophobe" would be far too awkward for use in the common parlance). 

Forget that the very concept of Conservative thinking is one that celebrates the rights of the individual, so long as that freedom does not result in an act of aggression against that individual's neighbors. Forget that it is Conservative thinking is that has always championed the rights of the minority against the oppression of the majority. Forget even such thinking has at its heart the freedom of speech and religion that are decried in such attacks. No, seriously, forget all of these things; for certainly those of the supposedly enlightened thinkers in opposition seem to have done so in order to put forth an agenda of behavioral control, government mandate and regulation, and a philosophy based on the concept that if we create enough laws, citizens will find it impossible not to be guilty of violating at least one them and therefore themselves be afraid.

The truth is that realities are always far much more complex than these simple (and simple-minded) designations allow. It is likewise true that there are donkeys that deserve the tails that their critics attempt to pin on them. It should also be noted for the record however, that not all who attempt to call themselves Conservatives actually are. In fact it may be some of these faux Conservatives that deserve the ire of not only the opponents of conservative principles, but of true Conservative thinkers themselves. Their attempts to hijack a very reasoned and principled philosophy may be an even greater insult than the assaults of Conservatism's opponents. 

As for me, I consider these insults little more than "Terms of Endearment" (an expression which has nothing to do with the chick flick of the same name). It's not that I agree with the characterizations, in fact far from it. Nor is it that I concede the validity of their arguments. I simply recognize that by using such tactics in an attempt to deal with true Conservatism, these opponents in fact validate the very ideas that they are attacking. By blatantly belittling the precepts espoused by the Founding Fathers, they in fact provide a special level of legitimacy to those who represent these concepts today.

While I am certainly concerned that political candidates attempting to take on the Conservative mantle will like many before them, shed it quickly once elected; the fact that there are so many are seeking and accepting this mantle is indeed encouraging. The attacks leveled at these candidates and their followers in fact shows a level of fear that I find both hopeful, and strangely appealing. I understand that such desperation may be the final attempt before the November elections to derail such Conservative campaigns. To those attempting it therefore, I say:

"You're standing on the tracks and the trains coming through."


Roland Hansen said...

Amigo Tim,
Some take the high road; some take the low road.
To you my friend, I say upward an onward.
By the way, did I ever tell you that my middle initial is L? It really and truly is!

Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions