Thursday, October 19, 2006

We Are All Conservatives...

Andrew Sullivan writes a piece of prose that is worthy of poetry in his book, The Conservative Soul:
All conservatism begins with loss.

If we never knew loss, we would never feel the need to conserve, which is the essence of any conservatism. Our lives, a series of unconnected moments of experience, would simply move effortlessly on, leaving the past behind with barely a look back. But being human, being self-conscious, having memory, forces us to confront what has gone and what might have been. And in those moments of confrontation with time, we are all conservatives...

The regret you feel in your life at the kindness not done, the person unthanked, the opportunity missed, the custom unobserved, is a form of conservatism. The same goes for the lost love or the missed opportunity: these experiences teach us the fragility of the moment, and that fragility is what, in part, defines us...

Human beings live by narrative; and we get saddened when a familiar character disappears from a soap opera; or an acquaintance moves; or an institution becomes unrecognizable from what it once was. These little griefs are what build a conservative temperament. They interrupt our story; and our story is what makes sense of our lives. So we resist the interruption; and when we resist it, we are conservatives.
True liberalism (ecological conservation; equal rights for all-women, children, latino, black, native American, GLBT, and so on; safety in workplace, home, streets, etc.; protection of our Constitution; etc.) is actually very conservative.

Keeping money in the pockets of the very rich, savaging our environment for profit, diminishing freedom of religion, abandoning the needy (children, elderly, disabled), starving scientists of funding for research that would improve the lives of multitudes of citizens around the world, invading the privacy of citizens' lives to ferret out personal medical decisions are all done by those who do not learn from history.

All the horrific abuses of the Gilded Age are being revisited in today's so-called conservatives. Fracturing the social structure that has been built over the last century is the goal for today's GOP. A return to the Have-Mores is not something of which to be proud. America's prosperity is tied in to the welfare of all citizens.

If we had universal health care, there would be less catastrophic illness due to early detection and treatment. Funding for medical research, including stem cell research in all it's forms, improves the understanding of and treatment for disease, leading to a healthier, more productive workforce.

Home care for the sick and elderly allows family members to enter the workforce, also leading to an increase in productivity. Increasing the access for disabled individuals allows them to add to the wealth of American workers. Imagine if an individual such as Stephen Hawking did not have access to equipment to allow for mobility and communication--how poverty-stricken we would be without his ability to add to the intellectual wealth of humanity.

Measures that decrease environmental destruction decrease contamination of water supplies and exposure to toxic substances. Everything that causes extinction of any species is a canary in the mineshaft-a warning of disasters to come for humanity. Katrina would not have been the massive disaster that it was had the wetlands been preserved, which would have contained the storm surge that turned New Orleans into a inland sea.

Liberalism is actually quite conservative.

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