Conservative vs Liberal

3 issues conservatives can (and should) commandeer from liberals

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3 issues conservatives can (and should) commandeer from liberals

I know some­one who is envi­ron­men­tally con­scious, minority-​empowering, and socially aware who also hap­pens to be extremely con­ser­v­a­tive. Her “bleed­ing heart” has been tem­pered by real­ity. She knows there are prob­lems that need to be addressed but she’s not so naïve to believe the gut response for action is the right way to address most sit­u­a­tions. I know all of these things because she mar­ried me a quar­ter cen­tury ago. I also know she’s not an anomaly.

My wife had been a life­long Repub­li­can up until recently when she real­ized that the GOP is the slightly-​less-​big-​government alter­na­tive to the Demo­c­ra­tic Party. We both gave the Tea Party a shot and helped get as many con­ser­v­a­tives elected as pos­si­ble in recent years, but the Tea Party’s influ­ence is wan­ing with the Estab­lish­ment solid­i­fy­ing its power over the party that once belonged to Coolidge and Rea­gan. That’s why we became Fed­er­al­ists.

For con­ser­vatism and/​or clas­si­cal lib­er­al­ism to break through the stran­gle­hold the Establishment’s Democratic-​Republicans have over DC, we’ll need to embrace a more intel­lec­tual tone and under­stand­ing of sev­eral issues that are nor­mally asso­ci­ated with lib­er­als. We need more small-​government-​loving, freedom-​defending con­ser­v­a­tives in office and we need them there quickly, but con­ser­v­a­tives can’t do it alone. It’s time to start recruit­ing peo­ple who are con­ser­v­a­tives at heart but who believe their only option to pro­mote the issues impor­tant to them is through the Demo­c­ra­tic Party.

Here are three issues nor­mally con­sid­ered to be lib­eral bea­cons that con­ser­v­a­tives can and should commandeer:

Save the envi­ron­ment… locally

There was some excite­ment among con­ser­v­a­tives when new EPA chief Scott Pruitt started espous­ing Fed­er­al­ism in the government’s approach to the envi­ron­ment. In real­ity, he didn’t go quite far enough since he was pro­mot­ing coop­er­a­tive Fed­er­al­ism. What we really need is dual Fed­er­al­ism at the EPA where the state and local gov­ern­ments focus on their own areas while the EPA itself fades into noth­ing­ness; they should be cut to the point of only han­dling inter­state chal­lenges where the actions of one state have an impact on another. These cases are few and far between.

Those who believe that sav­ing the envi­ron­ment is impor­tant almost always lean towards the Demo­c­ra­tic Party. What these peo­ple don’t real­ize is that the envi­ron­men­tal plans pushed forth by the Demo­c­ra­tic Party are gen­er­ally inef­fec­tive and invari­ably waste­ful of time, money, and resources. The conservative/​Federalist method­ol­ogy to clean up the planet should focus on the local envi­ron­ment. Instead of spend­ing bil­lions on decrees from Paris, envi­ron­men­tal­ists should be mobi­liz­ing their local com­mu­ni­ties to pro­mote recy­cling pro­grams, clean-​up ini­tia­tives of local water sup­plies, and energy aware­ness cam­paigns. Instead of lay­ing down rules from DC, the states should be mak­ing deci­sions about what’s best for their own land, air, and bod­ies of water. After all, they know their own envi­ron­ment bet­ter than any Wash­ing­ton bureaucrat.

When envi­ron­men­tal­ists are shown the ben­e­fits work­ing within their own areas of influ­ence rather than allow­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to dic­tate, many of them will come to the con­clu­sion they’re not waste­ful Democ­rats. They’re small-​government Federalists.

Empower minori­ties… with equality

Let’s face it. Affir­ma­tive Action is a bro­ken notion. It may have been nec­es­sary at one point, but today the best way to empower minori­ties is to make sure they have equal foot­ing. Every Amer­i­can cit­i­zen should be just that: an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. Race should play no part in whether some­one should be given gov­ern­ment assis­tance for edu­ca­tion, pri­or­ity for employ­ment man­dated by DC, or spe­cial treat­ment through gov­ern­ment programs.

Many in the Repub­li­can Party, in an effort to attract more minori­ties, are embrac­ing ideas that sup­port or resem­ble the tenets of Affir­ma­tive Action. When then-​candidate Trump went after Jus­tice Antonin Scalia for telling the truth about Affir­ma­tive Action’s effects on minori­ties, we saw the play­book that the future admin­is­tra­tion and his party would be using. They worry that if they don’t keep enti­tle­ments and pro­grams that ben­e­fit minori­ties in place, they’ll lose elections.

As a minor­ity, I know I’m not alone in not want­ing a “help­ing hand” from the gov­ern­ment because of my race. I don’t need it and to insin­u­ate that I do is an insult. There’s a dif­fer­ence between fight­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and ele­vat­ing peo­ple based upon their race: one pro­tects minori­ties while the other ham­pers them (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time). Nei­ther dis­crim­i­na­tion nor Affir­ma­tive Action have a place in this coun­try any­more. Instead, we need to allow all races the equal foot­ing they deserve to find suc­cess the Amer­i­can way.

The strat­egy the GOP is using to push left in regards to minori­ties is a los­ing play in the long term. Democ­rats will rebound with minori­ties in the com­ing elec­tions because they’ll go even fur­ther to the left by giv­ing pri­macy to minori­ties. The proper con­ser­v­a­tive mes­sage isn’t to say, “here’s more for you and your race.” It should be, “here’s equal foot­ing, now go make it hap­pen.” There will always be those who want any advan­tage they can get and chances are they’ll always be Democ­rats no mat­ter how far left the GOP goes. What we’ve seen is that the mes­sage of true equal­ity res­onates much bet­ter with a good por­tion of minori­ties who would never be Repub­li­cans but who aren’t inter­ested in what the Democ­rats are sell­ing them.

Sup­port social pro­grams… through pri­vate organizations

When the topic of “social pro­grams” is brought up, it’s com­mon for peo­ple to divide along party lines. Democ­rats gen­er­ally want more social pro­grams while Repub­li­cans gen­er­ally want fewer. To the Democ­rats, they’re essen­tial. To the Repub­li­cans, they’re a waste. In a way, they’re both right. In another way, they’re both very wrong.

While there are some social pro­grams that are absolutely not nec­es­sary, some are truly essen­tial for the well-​being of many Amer­i­cans as the Democ­rats con­tend. On the other hand, they’re also a bur­den on tax­pay­ers; many should be elim­i­nated as the Repub­li­cans con­tend. The real­ity is that the vast major­ity of them should be tran­si­tioned to the pub­lic sector.

Repub­li­can politi­cians will argue that they’ve been say­ing that for some time and they’re cor­rect. The prob­lem is that they’ve done absolutely noth­ing to push this con­cept for­ward since the mid-​1980s. Yes, they say it. No, they don’t do it. They don’t even try. It’s just part of their cam­paign spiel.

Fis­cal and social con­ser­v­a­tive cit­i­zens and even a very small hand­ful of law­mak­ers real­ize that pri­va­tiz­ing most of these pro­grams will have three effects: the bur­den will shift from tax­pay­ers to fundrais­ing (forced fund­ing ver­sus vol­un­tary fund­ing), community-​based ini­tia­tives with cen­tral­ized over­sight and assis­tance (dual fed­er­al­ism in action in the pri­vate sec­tor) will reduce cor­rup­tion, and the over­all effec­tive­ness of the pro­grams will gen­er­ally improve. There will be some fail­ures. There will be some cor­rup­tion. Both will be reduced com­pared to what we’re see­ing from DC-​run social pro­grams today.

There are more con­ser­v­a­tives in Amer­ica who don’t real­ize they’re con­ser­v­a­tive because they’ve fallen for the false nar­ra­tives of both major par­ties. The Democ­rats keep say­ing “if you believe in this, you’re a lib­eral,” while the Repub­li­cans gen­er­ally agree. If we expand upon the mes­sage that small-​government Fed­er­al­ism is a bet­ter fit for address­ing many issues asso­ci­ated with lib­er­al­ism, we’ll find that more peo­ple real­ize they were con­ser­v­a­tives all along.

I know someone who is environmentally conscious, minority-empowering, and socially aware who also happens to be extremely conservative. Her “bleeding heart” has been tempered by reality. She knows there are problems that need to be addressed but she’s not so naive to believe the gut response for action is the right way to address most situations. I know all of these things because she married me a quarter century ago. I also know she’s not an anomaly.

My wife had been a lifelong Republican up until recently when she realized that the GOP is the slightly-less-big-government alternative to the Democratic Party. We both gave the Tea Party a shot and helped get as many conservatives elected as possible in recent years, but the Tea Party’s influence is waning with the Establishment solidifying its power over the party that once belonged to Coolidge and Reagan. That’s why we became Federalists.

For conservatism and/or classical liberalism to break through the stranglehold the Establishment’s Democratic-Republicans have over DC, we’ll need to embrace a more intellectual tone and understanding of several issues that are normally associated with liberals. We need more small-government-loving, freedom-defending conservatives in office and we need them there quickly, but conservatives can’t do it alone. It’s time to start recruiting people who are conservatives at heart but who believe their only option to promote the issues important to them is through the Democratic Party.

Here are three issues normally considered to be liberal beacons that conservatives can and should commandeer:

Save the environment… locally

There was some excitement among conservatives when new EPA chief Scott Pruitt started espousing Federalism in the government’s approach to the environment. In reality, he didn’t go quite far enough since he was promoting cooperative Federalism. What we really need is dual Federalism at the EPA where the state and local governments focus on their own areas while the EPA itself fades into nothingness; they should be cut to the point of only handling interstate challenges where the actions of one state have an impact on another. These cases are few and far between.

Those who believe that saving the environment is important almost always lean towards the Democratic Party. What these people don’t realize is that the environmental plans pushed forth by the Democratic Party are generally ineffective and invariably wasteful of time, money, and resources. The conservative/Federalist methodology to clean up the planet should focus on the local environment. Instead of spending billions on decrees from Paris, environmentalists should be mobilizing their local communities to promote recycling programs, clean-up initiatives of local water supplies, and energy awareness campaigns. Instead of laying down rules from DC, the states should be making decisions about what’s best for their own land, air, and bodies of water. After all, they know their own environment better than any Washington bureaucrat.

When environmentalists are shown the benefits  working within their own areas of influence rather than allowing the federal government to dictate, many of them will come to the conclusion they’re not wasteful Democrats. They’re small-government Federalists.

Empower minorities… with equality

Let’s face it. Affirmative Action is a broken notion. It may have been necessary at one point, but today the best way to empower minorities is to make sure they have equal footing. Every American citizen should be just that: an American citizen. Race should play no part in whether someone should be given government assistance for education, priority for employment mandated by DC, or special treatment through government programs.

Many in the Republican Party, in an effort to attract more minorities, are embracing ideas that support or resemble the tenets of Affirmative Action. When then-candidate Trump went after Justice Antonin Scalia for telling the truth about Affirmative Action’s effects on minorities, we saw the playbook that the future administration and his party would be using. They worry that if they don’t keep entitlements and programs that benefit minorities in place, they’ll lose elections.

As a minority, I know I’m not alone in not wanting a “helping hand” from the government because of my race. I don’t need it and to insinuate that I do is an insult. There’s a difference between fighting discrimination and elevating people based upon their race: one protects minorities while the other hampers them (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time). Neither discrimination nor Affirmative Action have a place in this country anymore. Instead, we need to allow all races the equal footing they deserve to find success the American way.

The strategy the GOP is using to push left in regards to minorities is a losing play in the long term. Democrats will rebound with minorities in the coming elections because they’ll go even further to the left by giving primacy to minorities. The proper conservative message isn’t to say, “here’s more for you and your race.” It should be, “here’s equal footing, now go make it happen.” There will always be those who want any advantage they can get and chances are they’ll always be Democrats no matter how far left the GOP goes. What we’ve seen is that the message of true equality resonates much better with a good portion of minorities who would never be Republicans but who aren’t interested in what the Democrats are selling them.

Support social programs… through private organizations

When the topic of “social programs” is brought up, it’s common for people to divide along party lines. Democrats generally want more social programs while Republicans generally want fewer. To the Democrats, they’re essential. To the Republicans, they’re a waste. In a way, they’re both right. In another way, they’re both very wrong.

While there are some social programs that are absolutely not necessary, some are truly essential for the well-being of many Americans as the Democrats contend. On the other hand, they’re also a burden on taxpayers; many should be eliminated as the Republicans contend. The reality is that the vast majority of them should be transitioned to the public sector.

Republican politicians will argue that they’ve been saying that for some time and they’re correct. The problem is that they’ve done absolutely nothing to push this concept forward since the mid-1980s. Yes, they say it. No, they don’t do it. They don’t even try. It’s just part of their campaign spiel.

Fiscal and social conservative citizens and even a very small handful of lawmakers realize that privatizing most of these programs will have three effects: the burden will shift from taxpayers to fundraising (forced funding versus voluntary funding), community-based initiatives with centralized oversight and assistance (dual federalism in action in the private sector) will reduce corruption, and the overall effectiveness of the programs will generally improve. There will be some failures. There will be some corruption. Both will be reduced compared to what we’re seeing from DC-run social programs today.

There are more conservatives in America who don’t realize they’re conservative because they’ve fallen for the false narratives of both major parties. The Democrats keep saying “if you believe in this, you’re a liberal,” while the Republicans generally agree. If we expand upon the message that small-government Federalism is a better fit for addressing many issues associated with liberalism, we’ll find that more people realize they were conservatives all along.