What Is A Conservative?

Like a broken record, right wingers and Republican politicians proclaim themselves to be “conservative” as if that is good medicine. When asked what do they stand for, they reply consistently, “I’m strong on defense, fiscal responsibility, and solid conservative values, You know values like marriage (to the opposite sex), family, and my moral (religious) beliefs”. Yesterday we saw another conservative before the cameras.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford got his 15 plus minutes of fame yesterday standing before a hurried news conference babbling, as one might after an evening of drinks, about what a tough burden his personal life choices have been. Frankly it is none of our business and given the state of politics, it probably has no bearing on how Sanford performs his job as Governor. Sanford would not be the first man to leave his family for another woman nor will he be the last. Never the less his situation begs the question, is the term “conservative politician” an oxymoron?

While I would like to think that the difference between conservative and liberal is that conservatives take small steps and liberals prefer big steps, the mixing of religious based morality has a corrosive nature on all politicians. It makes them think that the rules apply to others and not themselves.

Why should conservatives not want health care reform, or why should conservatives not be for equal rights for all citizens? Politicians, on the other hand, have always been for the direction the weathervane is pointing and normally lack the backbone to take a principled stand.

Yesterday’s events have just made it more difficult in the short term for rebuilding the Republican Party. In the longer term, however, it may have shed a light in the best direction. Republicans need to get rid of the ideas of being the conservative party and drop any pretenses of moral authority bestowed upon them by their chest thumping religious rhetoric. Without this heavy baggage, Republicans have a chance of becoming the Party of ethics and efficiency, the Party that makes the wheels of government turn productively and efficiently.

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