Monday, April 24, 2006

The Not-so-Conservative Conservatives

If and when Republicans lose in the November elections, it won’t be because the nation has in any way turned liberal, but because it has become too conservative for the blowhards in Washington. Americans in all those red counties (parishes in my home state of Louisiana) are tired of compromises with socialists on issues like immigration, government spending, making the tax cuts permanent, and education. Not every American minds these compromises, of course, but clearly enough to get W re-elected by 4 million votes. When we see his poll numbers go down, it doesn’t seem that it’s because the nation is becoming more liberal, but that he has acted too liberal for a conservative nation. His poll numbers are down because conservatives don’t think he’s conservative enough, not because there are all of a sudden more leftists in America.

I can hear the ribbing I will get from the liberals that envelope me at my institution of higher learning. From what I can determine, at least 90% of faculty, staff and students at my school are not only liberal, but examples of classic, 60s-style civil rights liberal. Which is their right, of course. It’s just that I find this sort of nostalgia about the past harmful, and constantly in need of new victims instead of making way for truly progressive ideas. So these liberals will love to use Republican losses (or sagging poll numbers if Republicans win again) as proof that the nation has finally turned against Bush, against conservatives and have embraced Democratic party and their liberal ways. But it seems the Dems are a party that is in such tatters, one would have to be truly delusional to believe such a change took place in the populace.

My own thinking leads me to believe that America is not any more socialist now than ever, but more conservative than ever. This future optimism by lefties is a gross misreading of American culture, past, present and future. While I have been snickered at for having the audacity to tout the “rugged individual” image as part of what defines American culture, I very much believe it still to be the case. But instead of lumberjacks and gold miners coming to mind, the new “rugged individual” owns his own business, works from home, and pays other people to do his work for him.

His individuality comes more in his ideas and entrepreneurial spirit than his rugged five o’clock shadow. Those who work for big corporations and even government bureaucracies rarely think of themselves as being cogs in the wheel, as the National Socialist Worker’s Party (Nazis) or the Marxists once wanted people to believe. (It is fascinating for me to hear of the rebellion taking place at my fiancée’s new corporate office, where everything from staplers to desk chairs are ordered to be congruous, and the effort to keep every cube identical is kept alive, one memo at a time.)

Americans know America when they see it. They accept that it is a melting pot, whereby various cultures were melted and formed into one, as much as a number of cultures can become one. But they know they didn’t lose their individuality, even as they became cultural Americans. And that sense of the individual, which I often lament as someone who works in the Church, feeds many of our political views, particularly on immigration, but also on taxation and education. So Bush, keep being a cowboy. And Congress, please do what you were elected to do: be conservative and protect the Constitution. If you lose in ‘06, it should be viewed as suicide, not homicide. Homicide happened to the Dems in 1994, when the nation became aware of its conservative culture, and then proceeded to vote on it.

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