Friday, June 03, 2005

The Need for an Honest Discussion between Liberals and Fiscal Conservatives

      Today the biggest source of political tension is, I believe, the clash between liberalism and fiscal conservatism. Living in Texas, I know a very large number of Republicans. Many of them don't want prayer in school, don't want the so-called 10 Commandments displayed on public buildings, wouldn't mind if gays got married, and would actually support stem cell research. They only care about the fiscal matters and they don't want their money going to people that they stereotype as being lazy and unappreciative. Fiscal conservatives often feel so strongly about this that they overlook what the Christian extremists are doing in our country. Because of this, the fundamentalists are getting their agendas fulfilled and so I think an honest discussion about the need for compromise between liberals and fiscal conservatives must be reached so that we can both take back fundamental American ideas such as the separation of church and state, the need for scientific research, and liberty for all people (regardless of sexual orientation) from the drooling mouth of the Christian Right.

      Some liberals might imagine the following when dealing when issues relating money transfer from the rich to the poor. They might imagine that a rich, spoiled-brat who's never worked a day in his life, who got his money from his rich parents being taxes so that his money will go to a poor, hardworking, studious, and (insert more positive characteristics here) child so that he can attend school and have the basic necessities of life such as food and medical care. Fiscal conservatives, on the other hand, view the situation much differently. They see a educated, rags-to-riches kind of businessman, who is taxed unnecessarily so that his money can go to some pathetic, lazy bum who runs off and goes to buy liquor as soon as he cashes his check. This view wasn't always so popular among conservatives, as Robert Reich explains in his book Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America . He discusses how the new stereotype of the recipient changed the feeling among many Americans for these social programs.
   Still, these programs marked a whole new way of thinking about the role of government, and they were enormously popular.
   They were created for Americans as a system of insurance, not welfare. The basic idea was that we are all in the same boat together. Misfortune can happpen to anyone. The result was a giant sytem of retribution-mostly from young to old, but also from healthy to sick, employed to unemployed, people who didn't suffer a natural disaster to people who did. But it didn't feel like redistribution because the money didn't go from "us" to "them". It went from us to us.
   Over time, though, some programs became less popular because their beneficiaries started to look and seem different from the rest of us. One such program was part of the original Social Securities Act, designed to help mothers whose husbands or partners died or abandoned them. Increasingly, the women who collected what came to be known as welfare checks were black or brown. "Why should my hard-earned tax dollars go to them?" became a common refrain among white working- and middle-class households.

      The thing is, if the first stereotype was the true one, then sure, let's rob the rich and give it all to the poor. If the second stereotype is true, then let the lazy bums fend for themselves. But the key thing is that the truth is actually a combination of these two cases. Some recipients of proposed social programs might be lazy, but some might just need a helping hand to get back on their feet. Some of the rich may have worked damn hard for their money, and then some might have just inherited it and have never worked a job in their life.Since it is a combination of these stereotypes which is actually the truth, it is important to have a compromise between liberalism and fiscal conservatism. It's important to realize that some poor people want to make their life and their childrens' lives better, if only they had the money to go to school and put food on the table. However, you can't just blindly throw money at the problem, and it's important to make sure that the recipients are using the help so that they can soon help themselves, not to make them dependent on the aid.
      I believe most liberals have already realized this to be the case. I welcome the libertarians and other fiscal conservatives to join us, so that we can fight the groups who are threatening the core of what makes America great.


vjack said...
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vjack said...

In your first sentence, don't you mean to say that the biggest conflict is between liberals and SOCIAL conservatives?

halcyon67 said...

I was wondering the same thing vjack.

I don't think are such things as fiscal conservatives anymore. Why have I come to this conclusion: If there were, Bush would not be in office and look at the deficit! Also most fiscal conservatives oppose big government. Bush's government has expanded greatly.

So these fiscal conservatives are either oblivious to reality or they are non existent.

Delta said...

No I mean fiscal conservatives. And by biggest, I mean that involves the greatest number of people. I think the Republican party gets the majority of its strength from fiscal conservatives, those who don't want their money going to "some nigger or mexican". There are fiscal conservatives, like my brother-in-law, and they realize that the Republicans are no longer the party of big government but have been indoctrinated with such liberal-hate by watching programs like O'Reilly on Fox News that they just can't handle voting for a Democrat.

lila said...

There is a need for honest discussion--for sure.
Are you so certain that fiscal conservatives only care about money and not the other social issues that mark what the GOP stands for?

I have one more question--what makes a Christian extremist? All Christians? This is an honest question that I seek an answer to. As I agree that dialog is long over do.

brandong said...

Delta, I love your stand on religion and atheism, but....Well, let me put it this way.

We recently received the following comment on The Young Liberals where Samantha and I are both Team members:

"I didn't create the following strategy but I am practicing it. I assume that the second anonymous here is what we call a country club Republican. Conservative on financial issues, but moderate to liberal on social. Well, my man, YOU are the kind of delusional sap who we are targeting. If you don't have the decency or the itelligence to stand up while our civil rights are being threatened by the extreme right in your party (the GOP), and if you are willing to go along with the far right as long as it fattens your purse, then we intend to make it more expensive for you to do that. During the last election I kept track of local stores which displayed Bush-Cheney signs. After the election we began a whisper campaign and quietly boycotted some of those businesses. We knew that a very public campaign would only make draw attention and a back lash so we contacted friends and told them to spread the word behind the scenes. The reaction was shocking. In the small town where I live we have been instrumental in forcing two small businesses into closing their doors. And I dont feel sorry for them at all. If the owners want to side with homophobes, bigots, racists, and fifth column elements then they can take responsibility for their actions. Enough is E-fucking-nough. It's time for these so-called moderate Republicans to start making choices. If they make the right ones, great. If they don't and lose their asses it's their own damned fault."

Heavy stuff, but beneath the obvious rage, I agree with the basic philosophy.

Even my dad--who I believe has made a few comments on this site as well--has practiced the same strategy, though not with the intention of putting people out of business. He truly believes that he does not have to be self- destructive. He believes that there is no point in contributing his hard earned dollars to destructive people who will turn around and donate money to the Republican Party which is now dominated by a theocratic religious fanatics. And it is the Christian Right, the social conservatives who are running the GOP at the present time. They just happen to be both, social and economic conservatives. Of course what the economic conservatives/social liberals don't realize is that they'll be on the Christian Right chopping block as soon as the liberals are taken care of--assuming of course that we are stupid enough to let that happen.

Moreover, growing up in Brooklyn, New York I learned early on that the term "fiscal conservatism" was a secret handshake, a buzz word for social drawinism and racism. It works fine for the people wo already have the loot, and for delusional people who have convinced themselves that the American economy is more fair than a powerball lottery. But not so well for those who don't have the resources to compete in the first place. Fiscal conservatism is nothing more than a feeble excuse to maintain the status quo.

Delta said...

Bubbi, while there are undoubtedly many fiscal conservatives that are also socially conservative (in fact, most social conservatives probably are fiscally conservative), I think that the GOP has a voting base that includes, like brandong says, people who are moderate to liberal socially but who are fiscally conservative.

And as to definition of christian extremist, I would probably group all christians who seek to impose their religious beliefs onto the public sector. I guess that would be my definition of a political religious extremist, while I suppose in a different context I would use extremist to represent someone who used religion in an abnormally large amount in their daily lives and believed in a VERY literal interpretation of the bible. My brother's girlfriend has parents who ,when told that their son almost had an accident on the highway asked him "well, what have you done lately to stray from the path so much that god would want to punish you?". That's extreme.

And brandong, relating to what you said. I agree with pretty much everything. Social darwinism is a very strong motivator in fiscal conservative thinking I believe, which is why they view social programs as money going from rags-to-riches businessmen to lazy, undeserving sludge. You might also find this website interesting, if you haven't seen it yet.

Thanks for your comments everybody.

lila said...

Well then, I suppose it is very good indeed that "religion" has very little to do with Faith in God.

Saturnalicius Princeps said...

It seems that the assumption is that fiscal conservatives are always Republicans. I'm a fiscal conservative myself (and not even wealthy either), but I still wouldn't call myself a Republican. The Democratic party may be misguided, in my opinion, on a number of fronts, but the Republican party..*shudder*

Nor would I base my views on some racist rationale... in fact, the Democratic support for affirmative action doesn't get my support precisely because of a racist logic behind it. I simply believe that racism is wrong against all groups, and that the government isn't usually too effective at (re)distributing income.

Anonymous said...

"a persons a person no matter how small" Dr.Seuss had it right after all!!!