I really do think that, however bluntly I said it. There are obviously many points of contention between conservatives and progressives (political parties are irrelevant in this discussion, by the way. I can't think of a single Republican who I would call progressive, but I can think of a great number of Democrats who I would call conservative. I no longer call myself a Democrat. I'll expand on this in a future post) but instead of trying to address each and every one, I'd like to examine what I believe to be the root cause.
The way I see it, conservatives value themselves to the exclusion of all else. The further to the Right a person goes, the worse it gets. Progressives, on the other hand, value others and society in general. Think of how this relates to different policies:
- Taxes: Progressives want higher taxes to expand social programs. Conservatives want lower taxes because "fuck the poor." There goes hyperbole again. Let me try putting it another way: Conservatives want lower taxes because they earned the money and they should get to do what they want with it. This is a valid argument to a point, but the fact is that we live in an interconnected society and we have an obligation to contribute to things like roads, education and social welfare.
- Welfare: Progressives want expansion of welfare programs to reduce suffering and to help people get on their feet. Conservatives want to reduce the welfare programs because the poor people deserve to be poor. I know that sounds like more hyperbole, but I honestly think that it's a pretty close guess. There's no other reason to dislike social welfare programs.
- Environmental protection: Progressives believe the scientists and want to keep the earth habitable for as long as possible. Conservatives may or may not believe the science (depending on their brand of faith) but it doesn't matter because the government shouldn't interfere with business, no matter how destructive the business is.
- Business regulation: Progressives want businesses regulated by the government because the bigger businesses get the more resources they draw from society as a whole. This is the problem with capitalism (perhaps another future post). Conservatives value business and industry above all else. They see it as the ultimate self-realization and a gross injustice and an infringement on their (generally hypothetical) personal liberty.
- Individual rights: Progressives, ironically, are for expansion of personal liberty and equality. Women and minorities should all have the same rights as white males. Conservatives tend to cling to 'traditional values,' which keep power and liberty concentrated with white males. As with the social welfare bullet point (above), this is the most charitable motive I can think of to ascribe to conservatives.
I really do wish that I could have a more open mind on these issues. I wish that I could see the point that conservatives make, but I really just can't. I mean, I do see their point, but I can't bring my self to be that selfish. I want to help the poor and disenfranchised. I want to tax the rich and redistribute the wealth so that everyone can live comfortably. I want to protect the environment and the animals who live there. Most conversations about these things just start a point so far away that I can't concede an inch.
So do I hate Republicans? No. Do I hate what they stand for? Absolutely! I hope that clears things up.