Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ROASTED RELIGION: "America NEEDS Conservatives"

You read it right. I said it. Me the avowed and proud LIBERAL said America needs conservatives.

This was prompted by William F. Buckley's death today. Buckley is the father of the modern conservative movement.

It has been said without Buckley there would be no Barry Goldwater and without Barry Goldwater there would have been no Ronald Reagan.

Now I may not agree with all of Buckley or Goldwater--and I think Reagan did quite a bit of damage but also quite a bit of good--I think what Buckley did for conservatives is much needed.

For America to be great, we need a variety of opinions and we need everyone to feel as though they have a voice. One of the great strengths of the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention was the discourse and debate that occurred. Jefferson and Adams were on very different sides of the fence, and Franklin was way out there at some points. However, they debated and arrived at consensus--their compromise did not mean one side laying down; nor did their discourse involve airing dirty laundry, scandalizing or slandering each other. (Not that that wasn't done in the political campaigns later on--but at the conventions--work was done) They understood parliamentary procedures.

One of the things that is admirable about the British Parliamentary system is the concept of "LOYAL OPPOSITION". In Britain, the party that is out of power actually form a coalition entitled the Loyal Opposition. Their opinion is taken into account, they form a shadow cabinet and a shadow Prime Minister. Granted, the ruling party rules; but they don't shut out the losing party--they do not discount their loyalty or patriotism. They serve a much needed function--to regulate and provide checks and balances.

This leads me back to William F. Buckley--in the early 50's and into the 60's Buckley set about getting all the cooks and nut jobs out of the conservative movement. He drove the intolerant hatemongers and isolationists from the conservative movement. He made being a conservative about fiscal/free market policies and small government. Yes, he (wrongly) opposed voting rights acts of the 60's (which he later apologized for) but he encouraged the Montgomery boycotts and civil discourse and civil disobedience.--WHY, you ask? What is the difference you ask? Because he saw racism and Jim Crow laws and segregation as wrong--but he felt that change should come not from the gov't or above but from economic factors and the individual.

Much of what Buckley did in the Conservative Movement is actually "Individualism" in that he believed in the rights of the individual over the collective community and definitely over the state or gov't. However, thanks to Reagan (and this is why I voiced my issues with him above) the cooks slowly started coming back into the movement. He started off courting the religious right and then just gave them carte blanche within the party. Then the intolerant and isolationists came back. This escalated until we elected a man to the US Senate from SC who said "A homosexual has no more business in the school system than a single mother."

Do you see the danger of courting intolerance? Now, you may be adamantly anti-homosexual--you may have religious beliefs that you hold dear about their lifestyle and divorce. But under a constitutional democracy you recognize that while your religious beliefs may not be in agreement with divorce--you would never say that person should not work in the school system---the same is true for homosexuals. You cannot legislate morality--and when you do we are just a few steps away from figuring out that if you allow one group to be oppressed, it may be your group next.

That is why we need conservatives, William F. Buckley conservatives--most of whom have joined the Libertarian party after the Republican party became the party of government small enough to fit into private bedrooms and legislate from there. Liberals are made better because of real conservative discourse and debate. Liberals need to hear pragmatism practicalities.

AND YES--here I come again---Conservatives need to hear Liberals vision and progress. Liberals are right that government can be better and should be used for the good of the people--see where Buckley was wrong on the Voting Rights Acts of the 60's--

We are both important to the betterment of America, and the American people will do better when both groups have their voices heard and no one feels marginalized or scandalized or shut out. The best ideas (perhaps the best in the world--The Declaration of Independence, The American Constitution and Bill of Rights) were generated from debate between liberals and conservatives and CONSENSUS and COMPROMISE.

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