What Is Conservatism?

Created May 14, 2021

The GOP did not start out to be a conservative party, but in our memories it has always been associated with conservatism. What is conservatism? It is conserving the value we have already created, and not risking it unnecessarily by taking steps believed to be progressive which might have hidden flaws.

In principle, it’s a good idea, and so is the idea of making things better. Ideally, if you have to have political parties at all (the US Constitution didn’t think so), lining the two parties up with conservative and progressive philosophies is a very sensible dichotomy. One can imagine them working together to produce an optimally balanced result.

But today, most of the leadership of the Republican party – about 4251 people – have moved away from conservatism. They are in fact much more radical than conservative. Radicalism can happen on the conservative end or the progressive end of the spectrum. The new radical right is even more dangerous to us and to our democracies than neoliberalism. The radical right is virtually a return to monarchy, the same kind of monarchy that was the enemy of the American Revolution: One Man Rule. It is an undoing of democracy as a failed experiment.

The more the world sees us quibbling with each other and paralyzed by filibuster, the more believable is the idea that democracy can never work.

Hitler kept the trains running on time. The cost of that benefit was the lives of 75 million people.

Yet today many of us are willing to set all that aside and go for a leader who can get things done, or at least convince millions of us that things are getting done.

The filibuster stalling during the Obama administration was the beginning of a breakdown that proved the system was not working. Filibuster and gerrymandering were largely the cause of that. Which only went downhill under Trump.

And yet Trump, the TV performer who used social media as mindlessly as millions of us, locked in on the basis of that gross rapport, a core following that today consists of 4251 people with enough power to retake the country plus (my estimate based on Pew and Gallup) 34 million Republicans who want Trump back. 34 million out of 239 million eligible voters. Definitely a minority.

We need philanthropists to sponsor an all-media education campaign to make sure that everyone understands what filibuster is, what gerrymandering is, and the voting rights issues behind today’s State-level rush to “fix” all future elections by making it harder to vote for people who are less likely to vote for the far-right Republicans, who are a minority.

Allowing mechanisms not in the Constitution which have demonstrated they can paralyze a government for an entire administration to continue is unacceptable. But until those “keep me in power” mechanisms are dismantled, they are a very large obstacle to their dismantlement!

Therefore, to let The People Speak For Themselves, those same philanthropists can help grassroots efforts toward referendums, and continuous State by State polling, to compare the wants of the citizens of each State, with the legislation being passed today in that State. These referendums (and polls where the referendums are thwarted at the State level) will demonstrate that a self-serving minority has gamed the system and is our new dictatorial government in the States where voting rights are today being set back after more than a half century of progress.*

This will expose States passing laws opposed by the majority of the people that they are supposed to be representing.

It is the 34 million slavish followers of Trump (and any radical kneejerk no-compromise people on the blue team) that need to be educated and to learn to think for themselves, and not echo the pronouncements of any one man (other than the sayings of great saints) or even the party line (multiple people), but to study the issues and reach their own independent conclusions.

An educational campaign can achieve those effects especially if it is in bite sized pieces and done with the quality that can be achieved by entertainment and advertising creatives and their research support.

Perhaps the federal government and the courts can achieve the restoration of order that is needed, but philanthropists who like to live in the USA, for reasons of enlightened self-interest ought to give money to support an educational campaign across all media to get people to think for themselves and study the facts not just believe what a politician tells them.

Especially focused around voting, filibuster, and gerrymandering, the three areas that radicals on both sides have abused for too long after creating filibuster and gerrymandering in the first place, none of that was what the Founders wrote into the Constitution.

The campaign needs to also explain what referendums are and how they work differently in each State.

A citizenry uninformed in relation to these foregoing subjects is easy prey for unscrupulous actors in high places.

It’s easy to just follow one man, it takes some of your time to study complex subjects, and millions of us are not disposed that way. Hence using the media to teach (in a non-partisan way and) in potent droplets is a logical communications strategy that is not being used enough today.

May the Middle Hold. May the extremes move toward the Center.

Best to all,

Bill

 

*True conservatives, by definition, would want to preserve progress made in the past. Someone who wants to erase past progress is a reactionary, one type of radical.

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