Am I a Conservative? The Question

I started the exploration of this question in April, on Gather.com. Unfortunately, my computer caught a virus and I lost much of that work. But with the upcoming election in Ontario, it is appropriate to reconsider.

I’ve not voted often in my home country; most of my political experience was in the U.S., where I did not have the right to vote. Here in Canada, the names of our primary political parties are a bit… well, I think they are unfortunate. It’s hard to identify your political, social and economic outlook when the words we use for those outlooks also correspond with the names of the parties. One thing I learned when I lived in the States was that few people are perfectly aligned with any political party, in spite of the emotion and rhetoric that is associated with their stands. Most people, like me, are a fusion of a variety of perspectives and so must balance perspectives and priorities in choosing who to vote for. We also have three parties in Canada, so the simple [C]conservative-[L]liberal split is problematic. Some of the extremes of both perspectives can be laughable.

Through my life I’ve made a number of choices that reflect a combination of values. When I was quite young I considered joining the Cadets for the Canadian Forces and I went along to a few of the meetings. To this day I have a number of friends in the Forces (of multiple countries) and consider self-defence one reason that the Canadian army/navy should be better equipped. I have a degree from a conservative Bible College, and agree with most of their foundational principles. I believe in economic restraint and strongly in efficiency.

Probably the biggest reason I don’t consider myself Conservative is that I fundamentally disagree with giving businesses “special powers” in any nation. I’ve believed this for a long time; and believe that the pursuit of money is at the core of more suffering in our time than anything else. As far as I am concerned this non-business stand one of the fundamental ideals of my Christian faith (in spite of popular opinion to the contrary). Practically, I believe that the rising (not shrinking) gap between rich and poor is ample evidence that the “trickle-down effect”, touted by many conservative “economists” simply does not work.

Many of my friends are conservative: friends whom I respect and who I know are just as concerned about the poor and social issues as I am. I have a hard time explaining this dichotomy to myself. I’ve heard a lot about “conservative values”, and many people claim that they embrace a loving, flexible perspective: in spite of my experience on the “other” side, where I’ve experienced conservative values as rigid, reactionary, standard, archaic, unimaginative, prejudiced and inequitable.

But that’s just me.

So, I was curious about what exactly constituted the principles and morals for those who claim to be conservative. I think I know what they should be, but there is a disconnect between my opinions and their application. So I looked it up on the Internet, and in a dank little place called “Conservapedia”, I found a list that described “conservative values”. I realize this is a mostly-American site, but the effects are bleeding rapidly across the border. I’ll write them up in my next post, since this one is getting a bit long. Strangely, though, I find that I agree with most of the “values” as I understand them: and I would say that most people I know would claim these values in some shape or form. Whether they are conservative or liberal.

But by allowing one political group to claim these values as their own, we have, in fact, allowed the democratic process to be internally short-circuited. It is a matter of propaganda. If you look at the actions of the Conservative camp over the last few years, you will find they they do not portray these values very often. Many on the liberal side do at least as well, and sometimes better. So what is worse: to tout these values over and over and yet to fail to display them, or to not use them as “talking points” and yet to live up to them to the best of our ability? Should be vote for those who preach about these values, or those who live them out?

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