I’ve been thinking a lot about conservatism lately, so when my Dad sent me a couple of recordings of Rush Limbaugh on the subject, I decided to record my feelings in a letter to him. I’m not going to link to that hate monger Rush Limbaugh, but you can probably find the cpac videos on you tube.
On to the letter:
To me conservatism is about personal responsibility and the belief that if you work hard and everyone around you is held accountable, you can make a good life for yourself. It’s not about people, it’s about yourself.
That means that if I work really hard, I can get a promotion. If my employer produces a good product, they will be profitable. If the United States has the best morals, we can be the most admired country in the world. You can see what is not conservatism by reversing those: If my employer produces a good product, I get a promotion? If America has the best morals then my employer will produce good products? No, the work has to start from the bottom, and we can’t rely on the organizations we are a part of to give us what we want just because as a whole they are strong.
Along with the rewards of personal responsibility are the accountabilities. If I don’t do a good job at work, I’ll be demoted or unemployed. If my employer doesn’t produce the products that people want, then they need to cut costs and figure out who is not doing their job right. And if the United States doesn’t have the strong morals, then it will need to figure out why and fix it.
But there’s something troubling about that belief lately, and it’s causing me to doubt. External and uncontrollable factors are creeping in. People who made bad decisions about buying a home are causing turbulence in the financial markets, and it could cause my employer to loose sales, and it could cause profits to be down, and cause arbitrary layoffs of good employees like me.
People lied to us about the Iraq war committed crimes, and they are getting away with it. I don’t know whether the former president should have immunity in such matters, but if he tells someone to do something illegal then one or both of them needs to be held accountable. If not, future generations will blindly follow commands because they have no personal responsibility.
Climate change is happening on a broad scale, energy prices are bound to continue upwards, terrorism will still exist in the world and many other systematic problems will plague our world and “conservatism” as I see it cannot solve any of those problems. Really, these systematic failures prove to me that conservatism is false, and that’s rather unfortunate.
We have to work together to get out of the financial mess and keep the greedy few accountable on Wall Street. (That includes an end to pussyfooting around with 90% taxes on bonuses and just fire those who lead companies that take bailout money.) We have to work together to make sure that the people who permitted torture in Guantanamo are locked away for a very long time. We need to work together to slow climate change, repair relations with the “others” and drop our dependence on foreign energy.
I hope that big government is NOT the way to do this, but I know that “conservatism” as defined in the dictionary as “preserving the status quo” will not get us there. Nor will listening to a drug addled hate monger like Rush Limbaugh. At the beginning of the 3rd recording he says “Stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas.” Well Mr. Limbaugh, if you have no ideas stop wasting so much air. The only way to get past all this is with creative thinking, something that we Americans are good at.
We need to be progressive, we need to work together, and we need to understand that there’s no easy way out of the mistakes we’ve already made.
* On the videos themselves, can anyone show me proof that Joe Biden said Bobby Jindal missed a day of work at 7-11 to give his response to Obama’s state of the union as Rush joked? It’s true that he said that “You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent” which is bad but also years ago so we’ve all been over that plenty by now.
But pretending that a successful Indian like Jindal or many who work in the silicon valley cannot get further than 7-11 is way worse (7-11 may be the American dream to some, so Biden’s comment may be referring simply to the American dream.) The comment about Jindal appears, to my limited search, to be a Limbaugh original. Can anyone point me to video or respectable-news quote attributing Biden? All I can find following that speech is “conservative” ann coulter calling Jindal the “Slumdog candidate” so Rush not only proves himself a racist, but other Republicans follow his leadership.