Thursday, August 7, 2014

American Politics

Somebody wondered why conservatism in the United States of America isn't more popular.  My two cents appear below.

The modern "conservative" party in the US has become a sham. They make some noises that people like me want to hear, admittedly, but when the rubber meets the road they are all in the same boat as people making the opposite noises (their political "opponents"). Conservative politics in the USA lately, and perhaps not so lately, seems largely about making the government a matter of us doing our business with federal money and muscle and then blaming any untoward consequences on the opposition. How does the opposition respond? With the same tactics, obviously, because they work--if your goal is to win elections (rather than do anything constructive with life, personal and collective).

Winning elections is a piss-poor goal, it seems to me, particularly when the price for victory is moral integrity. If you have to be the kind of no-account bum that typically represents conservative politics in the Senate or White House to get elected and "win," then we need more losers. We need somebody to stop playing the stupid game and just do good work, for its own sake. Eat your own mistakes. Don't pass the buck to "liberals" or "progressives" or "gay people" or some such nonsense. Make your own communities, using your own values, without playing the sanctimonious victim and trying to beat up people who don't agree with you. Some people don't want your values. Fine. You don't have to marry them. You don't have to punish them. You don't have to look for excuses to make everything good in your life depend on them. Stop doing that. That is the coward's way--and the way of conservative American politics since I came of age, it seems.

When I was 18 years old, I registered to vote as a Republican, recognizing that I was definitely not a Democrat. Then, I noticed what Republicans were doing with the country--to win elections. I noticed how they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, pretending that their mistakes belonged to the other side (which is certainly not blameless, I know). I noticed, and I said, "This is not how I do things. This crap does not represent me, and come hell or high water, I am not going to vote for it any more. I don't care if the economy tanks and the country dies: at least I won't be the one pulling the trigger." I left the GOP, registering as an independent, and I am probably not coming back (certainly not as long as these weak-ass "blame the liberals for everything!" tactics continue to be the only politics of substance that "conservatives" offer). I am under no delusions that there are armies of people just like me waiting in the wings to transform the political landscape. I have no large-scale agenda for dominating people who don't like my life or want it for themselves. My approach is to avoid imposing on such people as much as possible, and ask in return that they avoid me in similar fashion. Most of them do, until they get elected and buy into the idea that governments own citizens the way farmers own cattle.

When "conservatives" start treating me like a human being, maybe I will identify as one of the gang, again. But I am not holding my breath. All I feel from both major political parties right now is deep indifference (when they try to save me without caring what I might want or need or think) and occasional contempt (when they notice that I do have opinions about justice, or integrity, or education, or anything that matters to them). I'm done playing the game in which I exist merely as a pawn. I don't play in this game: I get played--by the same punks, "conservative" and not, pretending to represent me so that I will legitimize their attempt to consolidate and extend power over this wreck we call the state of the union. I am not united, folks. I want no part of that. I am also not violent or revolutionary (in the traditional sense): I want no part of political secession (e.g. the recent Arab Spring, which seems like a disaster to me), preferring to leave politics alone as much as possible to work on other ways of meeting my needs for food, shelter, friends, a life with good society. If you are willing to ignore politics and live with integrity in communities where people value you as a human being, good things can still happen--even in this sham Union, even with all the vultures pretending to represent you as they pick over your carcass every time the legislature sits, the court convenes, or the executive signs another order.

I am conservative when it comes to keeping things that work for me, things that I see contributing on balance more good than evil to the communities where I am a meaningful player. I am not conservative when it comes to supporting the sham that is the GOP.

1 comment:

  1. A side-note that I did not work into the rant above that is worth preserving: The problem with conservatism is that what signals health at one point will later signal disease. When the vultures start circling, it is time to change your regimen (or prepare to be eaten).