Sunday, December 04, 2005


"10 Things I Wish Conservatives Would Learn from the Rest of Us"

Not that conservatives are actually capable of learning anything…

Pay particular attention to items 2 & 3, class.
Conservatives could learn a thing or 10

Hey, guys, are you reading? Here are lessons from liberals.

By Chris Satullo

Last week, I gratefully listed 10 lessons I've learned over the years from conservatives.

This week, as promised, I'll try to return the favor with "10 Things I Wish Conservatives Would Learn from the Rest of Us."

1. There are more of us than there are of you. Conservatives often conclude from their electoral successes - which hinge on ruthless tactical flair - that they form a dominant majority in America. They do not. Conservatives constitute, at best, a third of the electorate. If you combine the number of voters in the 2004 National Election Study who identified themselves as liberal or moderate, the "rest of us" amounts to 66 percent.

2. All taxation is not theft. Vehement dislike of taxes has been part of the national DNA from 1776 on. But talk-show rants about taxation as thievery are about as logical as expecting McDonald's to give you a free Big Mac, or your car dealer to ship you a free Accord. Taxes are the fee we pay for the many goods and services government provides - from picking up our garbage to protecting us from terrorist attack. It's always fair to question whether you're getting the quality that your taxes should buy. But it's crazy to expect the price of government never to grow.

3. And it's not really your money, by the way. That childish mantra of the tax cutter reminds me of a toddler who is lifted to the basketball hoop by his father, drops the ball through, and exults, "I made a dunk!" Take out your wallet; look at that dollar bill. Whose name is on it? Not yours; the nation's. What value would that slip of paper have without the vast, stable network of rules and procedures upheld by government? Not much. In America (unlike, say, Russia or Iraq), this network is so reliable that some seem to forget it's there. But it is vital, and taxes are the tithe we pay to maintain it.

4. When it comes to government, the magic adjective isn't "small"; it's "effective." A famous line attributed to conservative power broker Grover Norquist describes his movement's goal as "to shrink the size of federal government to the point where we can drown it in the bathtub." As charming as that metaphor is, conservative politicians don't trumpet it when running for election. They just chant about "waste, fraud and abuse." Once they win, and pursue the bathtub project, the middle class yelps, "Wait a minute! Don't cut my programs. Just cut that waste and abuse." If "small" government means being as criminally inept as FEMA was during Katrina, then the bulk of Americans want no part of small government.

5. We want our air and water clean. Businesses will always whine about regulation. By all means streamline clunky rules. But taking care of your own wastes is basic corporate hygiene, a core cost of doing business. Businesses always yearn to "externalize" costs, i.e. pawn them off on the rest of us. This yen need not be indulged. Hey, I'd love to dump the debris from my home-improvement project in your backyard rather than pay to haul it away, but you'd never let me get away with that, right?

6. Campaign cash is the root of too much evil. George Will can intone all he wants about how the First Amendment guarantees the free-speech rights of filthy-rich individuals and corporations. But it's clear to the rest of us that the corrupt way we pay for elections corrodes democracy and citizenship. That can't be what James Madison had in mind.

7. We're living in 2005, not 1787. Here are a few of the contemporary issues for the courts that the Framers could not possibly have imagined: al-Qaeda, the Internet, genetic screening, high-tech surveillance, Howard Stern. The Constitution is a precious guide, but as a North Star to navigate by, not a MapQuest spitting out precise directions.

8. Some of the rest of us read the Bible, too. Millions of Americans who revere Scripture draw very different political guidance from it than evangelical conservatives do. It smacks of the sin of presumption to assert that anyone who disagrees with you on a political issue must be godless, sinful and a dupe of the devil.

9. Charities can't do it all. Just ask any of the quiet heroes who work on the front lines of need. The challenges they face are far beyond their capacity. Charities need government to be a generous, competent and reliable partner.

10. If you're born on third, you did not hit a triple. Liberals too often ignore the degree to which the bad choices people make compound their problems. But conservatives are too eager to ignore the role that luck plays in success, and to equate wealth with virtue. By luck, I don't mean winning the lottery. I mean being born in the Radnor school district instead of in Chester Upland, or having a parent who went to Penn, rather than one who went to Graterford.

Based on the Gospels I read, the last thing Christians should do is to lock in the luck of the fortunate and leave the unlucky to their own devices.
I’d also point out that, except for fortunate sons such as George W. Bush, most rich people would not rich but for their education. Harvard Law School graduates, Wharton graduates, Yale Medical School graduates – what do they all have in common? “Graduates”. People who went to Princeton, Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Michigan, UT Austin, the University of Chicago – they didn’t build those schools, did they? No, they benefited from previous generations’ generosity. There’s no way they can that back. All they can do is pay it forward. No matter how brilliant they are, no matter how hard they worked, they owe at least part of their success to someone. For them to pretend, to attempt to delude us (and themselves) that they achieved it all on their own is not only mistaken, it is offensive. It is sinful, a lie, an immoral self-deification. All of us are dependent on others, and conservatives should recognize this. As we were helped when we needed it, we are morally obligated to offer unquestioning, ungrudging generosity to others who need help.

To which conservatives can only bleat, “No, mine! Mine mine mine! All mine!”
Thanks for all the great information, I am sure lots of people will find it useful. How did you come up with the idea for this blog it is really cool.
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Thanks for all the great information, I am sure lots of people will find it useful. How did you come up with the idea for this blog it is really cool.
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