Are liberals the new conservatives, and vice versa? In a political context, have these terms lost their original meanings? Let’s look at just two areas of evidence, citing elements of the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, as our point of reference:
- The preamble of the Constitution clearly states that, “We the people of the United States…” have created the Constitution at least in part to “…promote the general welfare…” Liberals support this provision through advocacy of assistance to those in need, examples being food stamps, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and health care for all. Today’s ardent conservatives do not, denying that health care should be considered a fundamental human right and feeling that the unemployed should be left pretty much on their own, that food stamps simply support a culture of dependency, and that the minimum wage is both unnecessary and socialistic. With reference to the Constitution, current day liberals are conservative, and vice versa.
- Article I of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Liberals recognize that the founders of our country found official state religion and its dictates oppressive and to be avoided. Further, our most respected founders were more deist than Christian, clearly refuting the notion that the United States was founded in any formal way as a Christian nation. The principle has become enshrined through our history as the principle of separation of church and state. Today’s most extreme conservatives would, however, turn the U.S. into a religious state, acting as an American Taliban, imposing their religiously based views of education, history, reproductive rights, science, marriage and family, and sexuality upon the entire nation. So, who is truly conservative? Today’s liberals, that’s who.
For this and other reasons (consider the Patriot Act, for example, or Republican attempts to keep minorities from voting), the meanings of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have become reversed in our political dialogue. In current usage, advocacy of “liberal” causes is actually conservative when measured against the sense and words of the Constitution and other legislative precedent since the country’s founding. And so, I would suggest, when thinking about groups such as the Tea Party Patriots (not patriotic in any historic sense at all, no matter how much they wave the flag), one should view them as the liberals, as they seek to misrepresent history, impose their own sense of ethics and morality upon others, and turn the country into a Christian theocracy. This last makes me very uneasy, and I would hate to see the word “liberal” so sullied. Maybe a better descriptive term for today’s nominal conservatives would be – well – I’ve got my own ideas about that but, as mother used to say, if you can’t say anything nice….
Today’s Annoyance: “Irregardless”. Need I say more?