I Am Not A Conservative

This was originally published on United Liberty.

A few weeks ago, I went to see “An American Carol” with high hopes for an atypical Hollywood film. It reinforced something I have been working on. When you look at the spectrum of topics I have written about, I am difficult to pigeon-hole by the average American. The two-party system forces people to consider politics in a linear manner, one is either a conservative Republican on the “right” or a liberal Democrat on the “left,” with no room for anything else. Interestingly, most Americans are not able to fit their beliefs into one of those two options, but they settle for the side they feel most comfortable with.

In the first part of this two-part series, I will be discussing why I am not a conservative. Since my belief that the government should be held accountable for fiscal responsibility is viewed as fiscally conservative, I can accept that label. The national debt, deficit spending, and a desire for lower taxes are issues that most people with whom I have discussed something political would classify me as such.

In the 1970s and 1980s, groups like the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, and the Christian Voice took advantage of elite southern Democrats that were disenfranchised by desegregation and social programs like the War on Poverty and sought a new political home. Eventually, due to the numbers these groups were able to produce in the areas of fundraising, voter turnout, and grassroots campaigning, they took control of the Republican Party.

One of the biggest issues to exclude me from the conservative club is abortion. This is probably the issue that I have the most concise and simple opinion. Seeing as I do not have a uterus, I will never be responsible for making this decision for myself with my family and my doctor, but if I did have that anatomy, I would not want someone not intimately involved in the cause making the decision for me.

I believe that the Declaration of Independence is one of the most perfectly written documents of all time and in it, Thomas Jefferson asserts that all men are created equal. To me, this means that all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, are entitled to their lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness. While I do not believe in the Federal Government’s involvement in the marital and personal lives of its citizens, they have seen fit to insert themselves into the act of marriage by using marital status to determine income tax withholding and liability, as a method of gaining citizenship, in probate actions in the absence of a will, and in employee benefits packages. I applaud Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut in their efforts to treat all of its citizens equally, and I would certainly like to see more states and the Federal Government follow suit. We all know that single and married people pay different tax rates, so I will not focus on that, but have you ever thought about the naturalization process for someone who falls in love and wishes to spend their life with the soulmate they have found? In a heterosexual relationship, those soulmates can marry, and the non-citizen is well on their way to American citizenship. In a homosexual relationship, that path to citizenship is blocked. The same principle applies to couples when one partner dies before the other, and there is not a will to dictate the inheritance and a probate court decides. In employment situations where domestic partner benefits are offered (which is QUITE rare outside of industries without a predominantly gay workforce), the employee must pay for those benefits with post-tax money, rather than families as defined by the Federal Government, who can pay with pre-tax money.

I also do not crusade for the position that all non-Christians, especially Muslims, are inherently evil and out to destroy “our way of life.” I am in staunch opposition to the War on Terror, and the legislation and spending that have been brought about since it commenced after 9/11. I believe that our interventionist and imperialist foreign policy decisions were the catalyst for radical groups of people to send us a message about our presence in THEIR SOVEREIGN NATION. How would the American people feel about foreign military bases and the installation of a theocratic state taking place on our soil? They have a way of life that has sustained them for thousands of years, but we are forcing upon them a democracy that we do not ourselves practice. In the same vein, America was not conceived as a “Christian nation” as so many in the conservative fold would like to tell us. The Founding Fathers were clear to prevent theocracy in the way that our nation was drawn up in the Constitution. In fact, the most influential Founder and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, felt that organized religion was destructive and could be classified as an agnostic, along with the majority of the other Founders.

I believe strongly in the free market, but a truly free market, not one filled with corporate tax breaks, bailouts, and subsidies. A company should operate or fold based on its business decisions, not the decisions of lobbyists and legislators in Washington. Austrian (supply-side) economics makes sense, and if we could move BACK TO THAT, we would not be in the financial disaster we are currently facing. Yes, it will hurt. No, everyone will not be successful. THAT is how capitalism works.

I support immigration reform, but only reform to ease the process for those that contribute to our economy. I think that if people wishing to emigrate here are not carrying disease, are not criminals in their home countries, and want to be citizens, they should be allowed to do that. America is not some holier than thou land where only those born here and lucky enough to work through the immigration maze can pursue the American Dream. It is the American Dream, because for several hundred years, immigrants sold themselves into indentured servitude, crammed themselves onto freight ships, and moved in the middle of the night across some imaginary line to achieve it.

Finally, I do not support the War on Drugs, since the government has no role to tell me what I can do with my body. The cost savings, in lives, in violent crime, and monetarily are nothing to scoff at. We currently hold down many economies in the South American continent by killing their agricultural products and their labor force by flying crop-dusters over their fields and poisoning them. This is done to “stop the problem at its source.” We then pay these nations off with billions of dollars in aid, since we have committed the acts of damage that keep their economies from flourishing. Here, we target millions of black and Hispanic people for merely possessing something that was recently legal. Since the prohibition of each of the illicit drugs, we have seen dramatic jumps in violent crime in the following years. We saw that this did not work in the 1920s with Prohibition, but we continue to outlaw substances and furthering ourselves into a wave of crime, far exceeding the levels necessary for the repeal of Prohibition. With opium, our legislators opined that the Chinese were luring white women into a life of drug-induced prostitution in the opium dens. With marijuana, they suggested that a plant, when smoked, would lead Mexican men to raping white women. With cocaine, a similar assertion was made about black men and white women. The War on Drugs is racist, and as long as it continues, those ridiculous ideas that scared Washington into banning each substance will still be held as truth.

In summary, I do not want the government in my life, telling me how to live my life. I have made choices, and I want to be responsible for those choices, without someone trying to force their idea of morality or goodness upon me. I am not a uterus-grabbing, gay-hating, religious zealot poised to force my beliefs on you, and I would appreciate it if you could do the same in return.

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