Interesting enough I wrote this article well before Trump was elected, yet it still applies. Conservatism believes in a smaller, more efficient, and financially balanced government. The smaller and less intrusive the government the freer and more successful its citizens are. Unfortunately it seems like most of the time they go too far after all a government’s job is to take care of it citizens. Back in the day that meant security, roads, and mail service. Now that has expanded to a safety net, labor protections, civil right protections, a decent education, and a chance at upward mobility. There is nothing wrong with conservatism, but they have to ensure that the expanded responsibilities of the government are paid for and not just sequester the responsibilities that don’t affect their donors. The how is always up for the debate, but the what shouldn’t be as divisive as it is now. However, there are some prominent conservatives who have seen the error in their party’s ways and are trying to correct their path.
I really like this article. Going to Texas A&M one of the most conservative schools in the state I’ve run into a lot of conservative trains of thought. And as a black man, I hear the word “conservative” and hear a word that has been code for racist to a lot of people. However, most of the people I went to school with weren’t overly racist. They went to school to learn to better the world and I made many conservative friends. However, no one was willing to admit their party had racist tendencies when it clearly did. Not because they were racist, but because no one wants their way of thought to be derogatorily tainted. As an engineer I believe the conservative thought has numerous good ideas to share with the world. With some tweaking and modernizing to the needs and wants of the modern American a conservative thought process could do a world of good. However, with them being carried down by white nationalist and policies clearly designed to take away from certain peoples those ideas do not have the room to grow. I sincerely hope that the conservative intellectuals can shed the weight from the Tea Partiers, the religious right, and the white nationalists and focus on creating conservative ideas that will actually benefit America.
Going along the same vein I found an article by the former governor of Texas (now the likely Secretary of Energy) Rick Perry. He reminds us of a day when conservatism was a philosophy that was inclusive of all races and ethnicities while at the same time acknowledging their historical role in alienating minorities. He does an excellent job showing the policy differences between Democrats and Republicans even with an obvious bias, but also highlights his own party’s past and current shortcomings when it comes to race relations. While everyone might not agree with his political philosophies or even his representation of history, few can argue that the America is a better place when the two political parties take their two philosophies and argue about the issues that plague America without excluding groups of people or even worse outright discriminating against them.
Conservatism isn’t inherently evil it has and has always had some good ideas that could genuinely help the country; however, when they are bogged down by special interest groups who are discriminatory, abusive, and downright harmful their message gets lost in the fog. No matter how good their ideas or how much they have helped people in the past all that people will see are the negative elements until they clean that part up. It seems the conservative elite has seen the errors in their ways and are making concerted efforts to no longer pander to divisive groups for the easy vote, but to outline their policies and upgrade their philosophy for modern times so they can debate their counterparts intellectually and not morally. Whether you agree with conservative principles or not, America is a much better country when both sides debate ideas from all angles with the goal of helping all Americans and not just pandering to exclusive groups either for their money or their bloc of votes.
Continuing along this train of thought the Atlantic posted an article about the lower class of white America that feels like their problems are being marginalized. They have been at the mercy of elites since before America’s inception. They worked as virtual slaves for the old plantation owners, virtual slaves for the industrial titans who relied on them to work in their factories or dig their coal, and after a relatively decent time of unionization and fair wages, the elites now say their livelihood is bad for the environment and either outsources manufacturing or heavily regulates coal eroding their main source of income. As a result they turn to opioids legal and otherwise and complain. However, the world calls them ignorant and racist and admonishes them for complaining now that their “white privilege” is up and are dealing with issues others have dealt with for centuries.
In essence they feel like they are the group it is now OK to demean and discriminate against. They are tired of the elites controlling their livelihood, but ignoring their needs, they are tired of being called ignorant and racists, and most importantly they are tired of being poor. Simply dismissing them as ignorant racists has given rise to Trump who probably won’t solve their problems, but is at least recognizing them. If the Republicans want to keep their base they have to recognize they have legitimate problems that they need to address and if the Democrats want to expand their base beyond educated people, minorities, and woman they need to push their agenda forward and find a way to point out how their policies help this white underclass.