This past election season has prompted me to consider anew my politics, worldview, and even myself. I guess that I’ve noticed a not so subtle shift to the right in my thinking since 9/11, particularly in terms of national security and militarty funding/support, but the past almost two years of a presidential campaign, of *that* presidential campaign in particular, has really pressed a lot of people’s buttons, including my own.
I’ve long self-identified as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, not really thinking about the inherent contradictions and problems with this stance. Obviously and on the surface, it’s clear that we can’t pay for the social programs that many social liberals want to see implemented if we remain fiscally conservative. But I don’t really support any expensive government-centered social plans (expanding welfare, extending unemployment–though at this point in time and with the economy such a mess, I think we must consider this in earnest with so many people out of work and so few places hiring); I do, however, see the need to do something about our health care system and about our public education–I mean here K-12; I don’t think the government should be involved in higher ed outside of military programs that provide tuition or federal grants such as the Pell, so I don’t think these should be expanded; universities get enormous endowments and can foot their own bills through those, tuition, etc.
I do, however, support freedom of choice for women and vehemently oppose the overturning of Roe v. Wade; I support gay marriage; I’m a feminist and support women’s rights and would like to see actual equality for women both in the workplace and in society as a whole; and I abhor racism and religious intolerance. On these grounds alone, I proclaimed myself socially liberal.
But am I? I definitely don’t think the government needs to ban things to protect us from ourselves (transfats, smoking in public, using our cell phones, happy hours (nod to Neil) . . . the list goes on), and I don’t think the government is or should be the answer to all our problems. It should protect our rights, enforce our laws, and represent the people. All of the people. But it doesn’t, it can’t. I don’t think the government should tax businesses out of being or out of the country, and I don’t think the government should dictate by taxation how much energy I use and what kinds of lightbulbs or cars I buy. That’s all backwards to me; supply and demand seems to be a good way to go. I don’t think the government should tell me how to observe my religion or how I can celebrate my religious holidays; if I want to say “Merry Christmas” than, by God, I will. “Happy Holidays,” indeed! (or “Merry Festival Lights” nod to Fabi ;)).
Then there are the other socially liberal ideas/viewpoints that drive me right up the wall (well, the Merry Christmas thing fits here, too, actually). The idea that we are multicultural if we exclude whites and Christians is ridiculous to me. The idea that we are being religiously tolerant if we express this tolerance to everyone except Christians is . . . well, ridiculous to me. The idea that we can bash, belittle, and otherwise denigrate people who are conservative or hold conservative values from on high, from some self-righteous place that says “it’s okay” to espouse tolerance and inclusivity while being intolerant and exclusive is beyond ridiculous to me, the hypocricy of it makes me want to vomit. The idea that we can scream “fear politics” about the right’s “use” of terrorism while we shriek about the horrors of global warming and the resultant end of the world or while we warn of the dangers of religious fundamentalists. No, wait, only Christian fundamentalists, all other religious fanatics are just “misunderstood” or we in some way drove them to it, so we’re really to blame. The idea that we can “support our troops” but not the military or the work that our troops believe in and are dying for is so wrong-headed that I can’t even call it ridiculous. It’s all very strange thinking to me; illogical and in direct opposition to inclusivity and peace and love that many liberals hold up as their banner with a weird, blind view of their moral and social superiority.
But with all that, I’m certainly not socially conservative in the accepted sense (see above re: laundry list of values and ideals that I hold that true conservatives see as abominations). The liberal chatter is all well and good, but its application is faulty.
I was going to go into my fiscally conservative thing and all the related problems with that, but I’ve gone on long enough. For this post, anyway, maybe I’ll do that part another day.