I’ll be honest with you guys, lately I’ve been seriously considering changing my party affiliation to Democrat, for many (though not all) of the reasons stated by the author of this article…
I’ve always considered myself a fiscal conservative and something of a (small “l”) libertarian. I have always been registered as an independent, i.e. “no party affiliation”, and until recently have had a strong affinity for the Republican party, at least at the national level.
I don’t know, becoming a Democrat, it feels weird. But no weirder than watching the party that formerly represented conservative values literally embrace evil and ignorance.
Maybe I should stop here for a second, because I’m afraid the word “conservative” has been redefined lately, and some of this may not make sense unless you understand what the word means, or more importantly what it doesn’t mean, to me.
– Conservatism does not mean “nationalism” or “hegemony”. Believe it or not, one can be a patriot and still be welcoming of immigrants. One can recognize that our greatest strengths are born of our diversity. One can recognize that we have always been, and if we are to remain free we must always be, a nation of immigrants. Reagan’s shining city on the hill, open to all willing to come and participate in freedom, was once a conservative value.
– Conservatism does not mean “the religious right” or “the moral majority” or “family values”. True conservatives recognize the importance of freedom of religion and the absolute necessity of a separation between church and state. True conservatives first and foremost believe in freedom, in all it’s forms. True conservatives recognize that people have, and should have, the right to do pretty much anything they damn well please so long as it doesn’t affect others.
– Conservatism is not without compassion. Conservatives recognize the need for a true safety net, and wish to provide one when needed as efficiently as possible. Conservatives understand that certain infrastructure services, e.g. roads, schools, libraries, etc, are better provided by government than a profit-driven private sector, and generally believe social services fall into that same category.
– Conservatism supports education. Conservatives, especially fiscal conservatives, recognize that the single best and most important investment we can make in our future as a nation is in the education of our people. Conservatives understand that the well educated are far less likely to be a drain on society, and that having an educated population is the single best way to reduce the cost of social services.
– Conservatism supports science. Conservatives know that science and technology are essential both to our future. Conservatives know that it was science and technology that won World War II, the Space Race, and the Cold War. Fiscal conservatives understand that profits are driven by innovation, and innovation is driven by science. True conservatives recognize and respect the value of Science.
– Conservatism includes conserving the environment. Conservatives understand that the government holds certain things in the public trust: land, air, water, etc. Conservatives believe in the importance of preserving our environment for future generations, and they recognize the cost associated with failing to do so. True fiscal conservatives do not sell out our long term future well being for short term gain.
Does the Democratic party embrace these values? Not exactly, but given the Republican’s party rapid flight from, and now opposition to, these values, they sure seem a lot closer than they used to be, if only in comparison.
So, no decision yet, but stay tuned…