I am a conservative. I hold traditional conservative values.
I believe in fiscal responsibility. Governments must balance their budgets.
I believe in capitalism. Capitalism encourages the competition that rewards companies for offering better products at a fair price.
I believe in the smallest possible effective government. There’s no reason to pay for more government than we need. And we should never pay for government services that we don’t want and don’t need.
I believe in personal freedom. The government should stay out of my private life unless I’m doing injury to others.
Real conservatives don’t just pay lip service to these values, they live by them.
That’s why I can’t vote for Republican candidates. Republicans claim to hold these values dear, but every time we have given them the power, they have done the exact opposite.
Budget deficits? Reagan had record deficits. Bush, Sr., even larger deficits, and then Bush, Jr., left us with a trillion dollar shortfall. A trillion dollars! Who gave us a balanced budget? Bill Clinton! It’s not just bad luck or an American idiosyncrasy. It’s the result of neoconservative policies. When I look across the border at Canada, I see the same phenomenon. The Conservatives under Brian Mulroney gave our neighbors record deficits and the Liberals under Jean Chretien balanced his budgets. In fact, Chretien’s surpluses paid down a significant part of Canada’s national debt. Now, under the new Conservative government, Canada has record deficits again. What’s with that? Conservatives consistently spend like drunken sailors and liberals balance budgets?
At least the Republicans believe in capitalism, right? That’s what they always say. And they back it up by deregulating one industry after another, from Reagan’s savings and loan and airline deregulation to Bush’s deregulation of Wall Street. That has to help capitalism, right? So how come it never works? How come Republican deregulation precipitates one scandal after another, from Reagan’s savings and loan scandal to Enron and Worldcom, to Bush’s complete Wall Street meltdown? Because capitalism requires proper government regulation. We’ve always needed anti-trust regulations, insider trading regulations, and other regulation to keep competition alive. I’ve got a news flash for the disciples of Milton Friedman: Big corporations won’t tolerate competition. Even Adam Smith noted that, when companies get big enough, they always use their economic might to eliminate competition. Big companies love to form monopolies, oligopolies, and cartels. And then screw their customers. Capitalism is a powerful economic engine. But it only keeps working as long as the governments keeps maintaining it. It doesn’t run on its own.
So what about small government? At least the Republicans can brag that they reduce the size of government when they are in power. What? I’m listening. Why don’t I hear the Republicans bragging about that? Because they don’t want you to look closely at what they’ve done. They’ve always made government bigger not smaller. What was the largest government department ever created in the history of the United States? It must have been some Democratic boondoggle, right? Sorry. It was Bush, Jr. creating the Department of Homeland Security. Successive Republican administrations have created huge government departments, from the DEA to Veteran’s Affairs to increasing the size of the Department of Defense. Veteran’s Affairs? Surprised? Bush, Sr. made the VA a cabinet-level department in 1989. It’s now the second-largest department after the Department of Defense. It has more than four times as many employees as the Social Security Administration. They claim otherwise, but Republicans love big government. As long as it’s their big government.
And, do you think that the Republican administrations want to stay out of our private lives? When they consistently support wiretapping and electronic snooping of all kinds? When they want to say who can marry whom? Who can get access to reproductive technologies, even in third-world countries? Of all the countries in the world, the United State has the largest proportion of its own citizens in prison. More than China or Iran or North Korea. The vast majority of Americans prisoners have been convicted of drug-related offenses. Do you hear any Republicans suggesting that victimless activities should be decriminalized? No. You hear them making the most convoluted arguments that someone at some distant remove is being hurt when a hippie on some commune in the middle of nowhere takes a toke. At the same time that they argue that no one is being hurt if assault weapons are sold over the counter in every sporting goods store in the country.
Hypocrisy, thy name is “Republican”.
So how can I vote if Republicans will not uphold my conservative values? Not the Teaparty candidates. Those wack jobs are one step short of Nazis in their stated intention to start meddling in every aspect of my life, from imposing a religion on me to telling me who I’m allowed to marry.
But there is one party who has consistently balanced budgets, promoted free enterprise, kept the government under control, and kept out of my personal life as much as possible. How can the Democrats be as conservative as I claim? Because they are conservative in reality. Contrary to what the foaming-at-the-mouth Fox pundits scream, the Democratic Party is not liberal in an international context. The American Democrats, if transplanted to Canada, France, Sweden, or even England, would be considered to be a pack of conservatives.
So you should not be surprised that I have no problem being a real conservative and voting for most of the candidates on the Democratic slate. You only have to stop listening to what the politicians and their lapdog pundits say and look at what they actually do.