Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I am a Conservative

Recently, on another blog (My Years of Reading Seriously) I asked people to let me know how they were voting, and why. Politics has become such a volatile issue, however, that I didn't get many takers, which sadly came as no surprise. I did, however get one well written response. I'm reposting it here, in its entirety

Sarah said...

I'm voting for Obama. I think the direction this country has gone under Bush is frightening - the economy, the war in Iraq, the limits on my personal freedoms, the willingness of the administration to pander to corporations and to the evangelical Christians. I do not think McCain would be very different from Bush. He claims that he is a maverick, but many of the things he said in his acceptance speech were almost exactly the same as things Bush said in his nomination acceptance speech.

I believe the war in Iraq was wrong from the beginning and I think Obama will take positive steps towards ending it.

I agree with Obama on most social issues. I have no problem with people believing whatever they want, but I do have a problem with them trying to impose their beliefs and way of life on othor people, and that is what I see happening with restrictions on abortion and gay marriage. I disagree strongly with McCain's and Palin's view on all these things. I am offended by the fact that Palin would outlaw abortion even in the cases of rape but at the same time remove funding for teenage mothers.

Obama strikes me as very genuine, someone who really does care about the country and, most importantly, the people in the country. My impression is that McCain is caught in his own little rich corporate world, with Obama is in touch with the people.

Those are some of the reasons why I have not and will not consider voting for anyone other than Obama.

I am curious - what is the America you grew up with? I truly do not understand why someone would vote conservative so perhaps you can enlighten me.

I told Sarah that my answer would take me too far off topic to be posted over at my reading blog. I don't want, nor do I intend, to make it political. That's what this blog is for.

So, Sarah, here is my answer.

The America that I grew up with was small town, Midwest America. It was in a home, with two parents; both hard-working individuals who didn't expect to be given anything but a chance to succeed. They did their best to raise the six of us to be strong, independent, worthwhile members of the community. Judging by how we all turned out as adults, I'd say they did a damn fine job.

We weren't rich. I'm no longer sure we were even middle class. But we didn't grow up feeling deprived of anything. We didn't grow up feeling we were entitled to more - more money, more junk, more anything. We grew up knowing that hard work could get us the things we wanted. Some of my friends had more but that didn't make them better. Hell, it didn't even make them happier.

We grew up knowing what was expected of us. It was our job to behave (for the most part - we were kids, after all) at home and especially away from home. It was our job to do well in school. It was our parents' job to provide the things we truly needed - love, food, and security. We had a safe home, good food, and the absolute certainty that our parents were there for us, no matter what. Not to bail us out, or blame someone else for whatever we had done but to help us deal with whatever needed dealing with.

We also had discipline. We knew the consequences of breaking the rules. It included, at times, physical punishment; a smack on the butt, banishment to our rooms, no dinner. These punishments were rare because we knew better than to go that far. Besides, the worst punishment I could ever envision was to have my parents look at me and say "We're disappointed in you." I loved and respected them enough that I never wanted to hear those words. It was that simple.

My father was a local politician. He served numerous terms as a county commissioner and a city commissioner. He was a straight-party Democrat. I doubt he voted for a Republican at any point in his life. My mother, on the other hand, was a Republican. I can remember them joking about canceling each other's votes. My father was also a small business owner and then an advocate senior citizens. When my youngest sister started kindergarten, my mother got a job as a secretary. Not because she wanted a career but because she needed to help support the family.

So, that's my background in a nutshell - work hard, love God, family, and friends, and don't look to anyone else to solve your problems. Your life is up to you.

Looking back on an almost 20 year career in law enforcement, I can honestly say I've lived that life and I'm proud of it. I started working when I was 14, with my first summer job. The only real time I've been jobless was more or less because I wanted to be. I've worked jobs for minimum wage. I've worked three jobs while going to school full time. I've put myself through college twice. And I can proudly say I've done it on my own, without holding my hand out once.

So, why do I vote conservative?

Because I believe that what I make of my life is up to me. It is not up to my government. The only job the government has in my life is to give me a chance and keep me safe enough to take advantage of that chance. Beyond that, the government needs to get out of my way.

I vote conservative because I believe there are things more important than myself. That list includes God, country, family. It includes a belief that there are times when doing the right thing matters more than doing the safe thing; that the strong have an obligation to defend the weak. It does not include cozying up to the handout trough and getting fat because I am some how entitled to it.

I vote conservative because I don't want, nor do I expect, to be handed anything simply because I am a woman in a man's job. All I've ever asked for is the chance to prove that I can do my job, which I've done.

I vote conservative because I see the other side standing for the things I don't like or agree with. I see the other side pledging to take care of me from the moment I'm born to the moment I die and I do not want that.

I vote conservative because I see the slow degradation of the things I hold most dear and I worry about the future. I see, in the university students I work with on a daily basis, an over all attitude of 'what's in it for me' and a sad inability to take responsibility for themselves.

I vote conservative because I know, in the depths of my soul, that we were meant to be better than we are these days.

And finally, in words far more eloquent than any I could ever write, I vote conservative because:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. -- Ronald Reagan


Skye said...


Ann said...

I agree!!!!

A.J. said...

Thank you for an interesting post. I was touched by your authentic and heart-felt comments.

Like you, I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. I had two loving parents who worked hard and raised me and my siblings to be strong, independent members of our community. Based on how we have turned out, they succeeded very well. I was brought to church every Sunday, and I sang in the church choir. I was expected to work hard and succeed in school. I was taught to help my neighbors and to value community service.

My parents were Democrats but my grandparents and other relatives were Republicans. I don’t think they would be happy to see what has happened to the Republican party today.

I am voting for Obama because I know that not everybody had the chance I had to be raised by two loving parents and go to college. Many people in this country are born into poverty. Many are discriminated against because of the color of their skin. My husband and I struggle to pay $1200 per month to cover our self-employed medical insurance premiums, but we are some of the lucky ones. There are many people in this country who cannot afford medical insurance. I worry about those people, who work just as hard as I do. I feel that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have equal access to health care, and I know that Obama will take steps to implement universal health care. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have universal health care. All of the European countries take care of their citizens. These are not “nanny governments.” Switzerland and France, for example, are very capitalistic countries with an economy based on free enterprise, and yet all of their citizens have adequate health care coverage. To me, this is a basic human right.

I am voting for Obama because I believe that the government needs to get out of people’s way when it comes to personal decisions about family planning, pregnancy, marriage, and religion. I don’t feel that it is the government’s role to legislate morality and interfere with people’s personal lives. I believe that my personal decisions about my body and my religion are one of my basic freedoms. We are a diverse country, and I respect other people’s beliefs. However, a firm separation between church and state is necessary to safeguard those basic freedoms. I feel that the Republicans are trying to impose their version of Christianity on others through legislation. This frightens and angers me.

I am voting for Obama because I am frightened by terrorists, and I believe that Obama will bring the fight back to where it belongs: in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was misguided from the start. There is no evidence that Iraq posed a danger to the United States. I am confident that Obama will find a way to end the war in Iraq safely and responsibly and to finish what we started in Afghanistan. I am saddened when I think of all the brave men and women killed in Iraq (both Americans and Iraqis) because of a misguided war. Obama will address the underlying cause of terrorism and will build alliances with other countries rather than alienate them. Under his leadership, America will once again become respected in the international community.

I am voting for Obama because I worry about the rising cost of gas. A short-term, but short-sighted, solution is to drill for oil in the U.S. The only long-term solution is to work towards renewable energy resources. If we hadn’t gone to war in Iraq, we could have spent that money developing alternative energy resources such as solar, wind, and thermal energy, and we could have entirely eliminated our dependence on foreign oil.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing. It has given me a lot to think about, and I will probably comment more later, but for the moment I have a couple questions. I really honestly am wondering this things, I promise I'm not trying to be condescending or anything.

1) Why is it ok for the government to help corporations but not people? It seems that most of the recent conservative presidents - certainly Bush has done this and McCain seems to be promising to - have given tax breaks to corporations. Isn't this essentially a handout to a corporation? Why is this acceptable but social services programs are not?

2) What exactly is the role of government in your view?

Sarah said...

I also want to say that I do see that you truly have a different background from me, and that means that your perspective on things is quite different from mine. I appreciate your sincerity in sharing your background and beliefs.

cj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marianne Arkins said...

Well said!

Sarah said...

A.J. eloquently expressed many of my own sentiments, but I do have a few more thoughts I’d like to share.

First of all, I was a bit surprised that I agree with many of your statements, but the conclusions I have come to about the solutions and who will lead us best in the right direction are different. For example, you said:

Because I believe that what I make of my life is up to me. It is not up to my government. The only job the government has in my life is to give me a chance and keep me safe enough to take advantage of that chance. Beyond that, the government needs to get out of my way.

I agree that what each person makes of their life is ultimately up to them and that is is the government’s job to give each person a chance and keep them safe. However, not everyone starts out on equal ground, and I believe part of the government giving each person a chance is making some effort to equalize the playing field, so to speak. My parents were by no means rich when I was growing up; in fact, they were sometimes below the poverty line. However, I recognize that I am very privileged over a lot of people. I had caring parents who were there for me and who valued education. They were able to provide enough food and have health insurance while I was their dependent. Some people start out at a disadvantage to me because they do not have parents who can be there emotionally or physically, they are not raised to value education, and they do not have health insurance and thus do not receive quality health care.

People who are in poverty are not stuck there purely due to an unwillingness to work hard or bad decisions they made. Many people work very hard and try hard to make the right decisions and are still stuck in poverty, because there are systemic problems that keep them at a disadvantage if they started out that way. I read an excellent book about this a few years ago, called The Working Poor, by David Shipler (here’s my review). He shows that poverty is a vicious cycle with many intersecting causes, some of which are individual and some of which are systemic or governmental. I highly recommend it; it is not purely a “liberal” book – he says in the introduction that both liberals and conservatives will find something to dislike in what he says.

You said that “Beyond that, the government needs to get out of my way.” I agree wholeheartedly that the government should get out of my way and specifically out of my personal life. This is not what I see coming from conservatives, however. In the conservative leaders I see people who are willing to legislate what I can and cannot do with my body and who I can marry. This legislation of morality seems rather hypocritical coming from a party that proclaims to believe in small government.

Finally, I want to say that I also see many young people these days with a sense of entitlement and an unwillingness to work hard and it saddens and depresses me. I do not believe any of us are “entitled” to expensive material items and I do believe that everyone needs to make an effort to support themselves and live as part of the community. However, I also believe that every human being is entitled to food, water, shelter, and health care; that these things are basic human rights. These sentiments make me vote liberal, not conservative.

cj said...

AJ -

It is not up to the government to make sure people succeed. It is up to the government to make sure the playing field is level and trust me, it is. In the law enforcement field it is almost impossible for a white man to get a job. In fact, with the Michigan State Police it is common knowledge that a white man needs to score 110 points on the entrance exam to be considered... when there are only 100 points possible. There are more then enough EOE laws in place to protect people.

As for socialized medicine - I live on the border with Canada. I see first hand how their health care works. It comes at the cost of a 15% tax on everything and it also comes with a 3 month wait for minor things like heart surgery. Our hospitals on this side are clogged by Canadians coming over to get their health care in the States. Where will we go? Mexico?

And I can't believe people actually want to hand control of the medical field over to the people who do such an amazing job with the post office and those who have 'managed' the social security system to near bankruptcy.

Abortion is the law of the land. The fact that a conservative candidate, like McCain and Palin, speak out against the tragedy will not change the law. They are stating their opinion, which they are entitled to do. Let's suppose that Roe v Wade was overturned. What do you think would happen? It would go back to a state question, where it belongs.

The war in Iraq is going extremely well now, thanks to the surge. You don't see that in the media, of course. Troops are being reassigned to Afghanistan or brougth home. And, btw, Obama has already said he won't bring the troops home immediately.

As for the cost of oil - the government has no control over that. It is set, not by the oil companies or the government, but by the free market. It is set by the fact that two countries - China and India - are using today as much oil as the entire world did ten years ago. It is set by the fact that there hasn't been a new refinery built in this country since the 1970's. And it is set by the whims of OPEC and the speculators on Wall Street. I've been hearing about alternative energy sources (I have solar panels on my home, btw) since the 1970's so to assume we would've somehow magically found the solution in seven years is nonsense. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting away from oil imports and alternative energy. Oh, and btw, do some research into our oil sources and see when they jumped to their current rates. I don't think you'll find a reason to blame Reagan or either Bush.

Obama talks a lot about things like equal pay for equal work yet the women on his staff are paid 83 cents to every dollar that the men make; of his top 20 advisors, only seven of them are female. John McCain on the other hand pays his female employees $1.04 for every $1.00 that men make.

He talks about the economy but he was second in line when the lobbyists went to Washington DC on the behalf of Fanny and Freddie in an effort to keep regulators off their backs. We're seeing how well that worked out.

He claims he'll cut taxes for 95% of the citizens. I ask how that's possible since the lower 40% of the citizens don't pay taxes to start with. He's really talking about giving 40% of the citizens back more of MY money.

And he doesn't talk about the capital gains tax increase, the gas tax increase, and the hundreds of other hidden taxes he will increase simply to pay for his give-aways.

That's not my idea of government getting out of my way.


cj said...

Sarah -

Tax breaks for corporations give money back to the corporations which is then invested and used to create jobs. It helps everyone.

Give away programs are nothing but a redistribution of wealth that does nothing to help the economy.

As for what I think the role of the government is, I believe I've answered that already. Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a federal government big enough to take care of us from cradle to grave.

Do you honestly believe the government can level the playing field?

Don't you think we have enough laws on the book to do that already?

I see eager, bright, talented young people leave my university every year wanted to serve as police officers and fire fighters. I also see them unable to find a job for one reason - they had the misfortune to be born a white male. How does reversing the discrimination accomplish anything?

I just got taken to task for mentioning abortion in another post. The commenter accused Republicans of trying to ignore the issues by always bring up abortion. Yet, both you and AJ say it and gay marriage are deciding factors in your decision to vote liberal. Seems like I can't win, doesn't it?

I recently received a flyer from the Obama campaign where, once again, they were using scare tactics: John McCain and Sarah Palin will make abortion illegal and take away a woman's right to choose...

It's nonsense and I would hope you're smart enough to know that.

Here's why I have a problem with abortion: 46% of the women having abortions in this country (over a million a year) state that they were not using contraceptives when they became pregnant.

That's roughly 500,000 babies conceived because their mothers are stupid, ignorant, or lazy and then aborted in a retroactive method of birth control.

What kind of person would I be if I didn't speak out against an issue that is so important to me?

I agree that food, water, shelter, and health care are basic issues. I just don't believe that the answer should be the federal government. The same government, as I said in my answer to AJ, that has created the US Post Office and almost bankrupted Social Security.

Take a look at some of my other posts here. You can skip the ones on abortion if you'd like. Take a look at the one on equal pay or the one one the financial mess we're in (News you won't be seeing...)

Integrity and honesty play a huge part in my decision.


a.j. said...

I appreciate your willingness to engage in dialog with me, and I was pleased to learn that you have solar panels on your home! In regards to your political opinions, we will have to agree to respectfully disagree.

I don't have the time to continue the discussion about all of these various important issues. However, I do want to address the health care issue.

Life-threatening health care is always available immediately, both in the U.S. and in countries with socialized medicine. For elective surgeries, however, a person might have to wait in Canada. Recently a friend of mine in the U.S. (with no medical insurance) had emergency brain surgery. Afterwards, he had to declare bankruptcy because he couldn't afford the bills. So which is preferable: Waiting a little for elective surgeries or declaring bankruptcy to save your life?

Socialized medicine is not the only option. In Switzerland, for example, health care is delivered through private providers and private insurance companies, just like in the U.S. However, everybody has health insurance because it's mandatory and the insurance companies are not allowed to turn anyone down. To make this system work, the government subsides the monthly premiums of families who cannot afford them. So it's quite different from the system in countries with socialized medicine.

The point I want to make is that all civilized countries (except the U.S.) have found a way to make health care available to all of their citizens. I'm proud to be an American, but I feel ashamed that some of my fellow citizens do not enjoy the same health care privileges that I do.