Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spinning Clockwise

There is an old adage that says something like: "when you're young, if you aren't liberal, you don't have a heart; when you get older, if you aren't conservative, you don't have a brain" or some such bunk. I hate cliches.

Though, I must admit, I am absolutely more conservative now than I was when I was in college. I also admit that probably isn't saying an awful lot.

Counterintuitively, this continuing maturity is driving me further and further away from so-called "conservative" thinkers that make money using cliches to rile up Americans. Today, Republicans, their pundits and an awful lot of crazy people who identify themselves as "conservatives" are rapidly abandoning what I always intellectually valued in conservatism in favor of "regression" and "hyperbole" (what I define as "so-called conservatism"). Then a lot of them get mad that they are not abandoning conservatism for so-called "conservatism" fast enough.

What I've always identified as "conservative" ideas turn out to be just more liberalism, according to these so-called "conservatives."

For example, my position on public education makes me an unapologetic, "big-government liberal," according to most so-called "conservatives."

I want the government to fund public schools. I want the government to fund public colleges. I want the government to fund adult education programs. I want the government to do so robustly, even if it requires tax dollars. I want those things to be a high priority. But I also want them to be run efficiently, and I want bad administrators and teachers to be fired, and problem students removed so other students can learn. I want to abandon models that are unsustainable and accept models that work.

When I was growing up, all the "conservative" folks I knew wanted their kids to go to college, and loved the idea of sending their kids to public UGA, paid for in part by the HOPE Scholarship administered by the state government and created by a Democratic governor.

While I would think this is a fairly bi-partisan belief, so-called "conservatives" of today continually remind me otherwise. (HT: JMac)

Nowadays, I must assume the so-called "conservative" attitudes would oppose efforts to "teach a man to fish" so that man can participate in and help grow a dynamic economy. I must assume that because of what they are saying about other areas of public education.

I hear often that a big part of so-called "liberalism" is too many "handouts," and so-called "conservatism" is about rolling up your sleeves and getting to work without complaint (which is pretty funny, hearing how loudly so-called "conservatives" complain about everything). I have serious trouble reconciling the idea that we can deconstruct public education and reduce "hand-outs" at the same time, and I don't think it is very consistent to advocate for adoption of both policies at the same time.

Conservatism used to be about much more than just taxes. Until it returns to that, I guess you can just count on me to become more liberal as I get older.

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1 comment:

GentillyGirl said...

I've gone through the same journey.