It sounds like such a good word. “Conserve.” You think of land stewardship, lovingly restored furniture, thoughtful manners. Carefully tended gardens, the hard-working paperboy saving his coins, a handed-down recipe for cherry jam. Those conservatives really care about things, don’t they? Important things. It’s right there in their name! We all owe them some respect, maybe a little gratitude, for their contribution to our American way of life. Right?
Conservatives have opposed just about every positive advance in American history. Starting with the Revolution itself, they supported George III over George Washington. They supported slavery, the nullification of federal laws they didn’t like (regarding slavery), the repeal of the Missouri Compromise (over slavery) and the destruction of the
They opposed the transcontinental railroad and the Homestead Act because they didn’t want small farmers – nonslaveholders – settling in western territories. They opposed the 14th and 15th amendments, civil rights, voting rights, unions, anti-trust legislation, and child labor laws. They opposed public education, women’s suffrage, the
Meet the Conceptual Guerilla, source of the above list and coiner of the term “cheap labor conservative.” A former trial lawyer and master of rhetoric, he can take any position of the right and reduce it to its cheap-labor underpinnings in 40 seconds flat. Social spending? No; the more desperate the workforce, the cheaper they’ll work. Globalization and free trade? You bet; third world workers are really over a barrel and work dirt cheap. Demonizing gays? Encouraging racism? Yes! All forms of bigotry sow dissent among workers and distract them from their common cause as wage earners.
Conservatives will find a million faults with his history – how do you define “conservative,” the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, Nixon supported the environmental regs, there were Democrats who took some of those same positions – but it will be nitpicking. It’s a compelling list. Conservatives are on the wrong side of American history.
Here’s another take from Philip Agre at UCLA. He asks two simple questions:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.
“Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years,” says Agre.
So don’t come waving your flags at me.