Some Thoughts

Sometimes in a certain state of mind I begin to feel I can deconstruct the universe in elemental ways and make sense of the world we’re living in. Rarely do they seem to hold up in the morning.

But it strikes me that despite all the polarization and tension between Conservatives and Liberals (in specifically America, but potentially anywhere), both ideologies would not exist if they were not both rooted in something resembling a logical point of view. And zoomed out to the biggest of pictures, both seem to me to be able to be boiled down to distinct but equally rational philosophical perspectives on human history.

Liberals believe in the constant pursuit of a better world, “the more perfect union.” This means more diversity, more inclusion, more fairness, more humanity. Liberals’ ideal world can’t be pictured in the mind’s eye, the way many on the right long for a 1950’s ideal. The goal post is always moving, an infuriating fact for some who value tradition and a particular sense of personal “liberty,” especially when it comes to “political correctness.”

But any honest liberal person can acknowledge that inherent in the process of creating a better world is the tension of the status quo, a violent, often deadly tension, but an unavoidable one.

Where a Conservative might point to a terrorist attack and begin to see Muslim immigration as a risk not worth taking, Liberals consider those wounds, however tragic, aberrations and bumps in the road towards progress, perhaps avoidable if not for the ignorant pushback of their right-leaning counterparts who create us-vs-them dynamics between groups around the globe.

Conservatives, though, do not believe that level of sentimentality is sustainable. They feel the weight of the past. They see that no other civilization in history has lasted forever. Chief among the reasons they believe this is the case are the primary forces of government overreach and sweeping, premature change.

Where Liberals see the government as a tool of populist consensus meant to help protect the vulnerable and put it’s thumb down on the dial of progress, Conservatives mostly see the potential for even good intentions to fuck everything up for the sake of a naive fantasy.

Conservatives say they believe in a healthy restraint on the pace of progress, the way a parent might withhold R-rated movies from a child until a certain age. Liberals would accuse Conservatives of actually desiring to preserve a certain state of civilization that benefitted them (and often only them), but here’s the thing, there’s a hell of a logic to that.

Like I said, no civilization has ever survived the never-ending grind of time. And it is pretty logical to be wary of any new intrusion that could upset a favorable equilibrium, even if means shunning certain idealistic principles of inclusion and, yes, equality.

And what’s so wrong with Conservatives simply casting a more intimate net on the range of their compassion? Would we not all save our own son or daughter before a stranger? Conservatives simply extend love first to themselves (if they’re honest), then to their families, then their own communities, and often their church (sometimes in the form of actual charity and goodwill towards other communities). What energy and will are left over goes toward preserving the system that allows them to take care of their own. Whether the system necessarily gives others opportunity to do the same is a lesser priority. We take care of our own.

As for me, I often see Conservatism as buying a house, the biggest and newest in the neighborhood (the one with the best view) and falling in love with it. Only decades later, despite the leaks that have developed over the years and the new, more modern houses that have been built down the street and all the work to be done in the yard, they still insist they have the best house. Would it be so hard to address the problems of the house in which you take so much pride? With a little work it could indeed be that house (after all, it still has the best view). There is also no need to kick out the new guy you invited over earlier just because your pipes are leaking. He might even be an expert plumber.

Do those mixed metaphors discount the desire for pure personal liberty? Maybe. There is a lot of dichotomy and contradiction in our American values and constitution. Liberty and equality don’t always get along. Free Speech means the right to shit on all the other freedoms. Achieving the right balance means answering tough questions.

Now this is the part where I bring this all together to say how this means we are really all on the same team and advocate for better communication and healthy discussion and a healthy balance between conservative values and liberals one and the rest.

Is this even lucid anymore?