I throw no disguises over my political leanings except for not bringing up heated issues in professional settings. (Yes, I have delved into political dialogue on first dates.) Nobody, that I know of, mistakes me for “conservative” in opinion. So it’s no surprise that my understanding of the world is not in line with the right side of the political spectrum – but what bothers me more than the difference between them and me is the difference between what they say they stand for and where their most common political positions actually lie. They have no practical basis in using the words they use to lure citizen voters into choosing one colour over another.
For instance, “family values” is a widespread term that conservatives in all Western countries use to imply that their leftward neighbour(s) will bring in widespread debauchery and broken homes. But is it really improving the quality of families to, say…
- deny same-sex couples the right to marry and support each other out of love and commitment?
- deport or deny entry to close relatives of those rightfully living in the country based on where those relatives were originally born?
- severely limit access to family planning resources that can reduce child poverty by allowing people to empower themselves before having families?
No, THEIR “family values” are white people with 3-5 children and a woman who knows “her place”. That is not practical for most Western families anymore, as two incomes are usually needed to support the 2-3 children that they could conceivably send to university on that budget.
But the kind of family values they claim to adhere to are guided by their religion – Christianity, of course. But they’re not particularly Christ-like. They don’t forgive, they don’t turn the other cheek, and they certainly don’t divide the bread as he did. Much like with the family thing, they use the God-based rhetoric to appeal to other sources of mindlessly absorbed propaganda that so many “conservative” people are subjected to. This is far more prevalent in the United States than any of the other political cultures that I’m even vaguely exposed to. Right wing politicians there believe the founding of their country was based on the religious freedom of Puritans to be Puritans. The things that are terribly wrong with this perception are, a) the Puritans didn’t offer much religious freedom to others, and b) the Puritans still maintained connections with Mother England and merely helped established colonies for her on the American continent. What’s more in line with the “American patriotism” in regards to religion is the Deism expressed by many of the “founding fathers”, particularly Thomas Jefferson – who wasn’t exactly Christian but had a much firmer grasp on the Bible quote “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”
That which is Caesar’s, of course, is another set of ducks the right don’t quite have in a row. Conservatives often use the catchphrase of “small government“, vilifying all of public service and government resources. And yet so many of these right wingers have spent much of their careers in politics, with their salaries paid through the same sources as other government programs, and few of them have maintained a reputation of using their public allowances modestly when covering their own expenses. They also gain support by demanding that all sorts of firmly established government programs be abolished, but that is merely lip service; they know they could never practically change these things and they only want to get paid more tax dollars through this lie.
But the biggest conflict between the values these politicians claim to hold and the practicality of what they say they will do is, of course, war. Somehow, for most conservatives, the small-government can coexist with a massive military always bombing other countries. Public sponsorship of the arts eats away at the livelihood of every working class citizen. Developing massive military equipment and deploying tens of thousands of troops to multiple locations where they can risk their lives is patriotism and worth every cost, which sure won’t come from taxes.
But war, and small government, and religion, and family values, are all expressions of “freedoms“. Yeah, this has turned into pretty much describing only American politics. As close as so many of our other Western nations try, we can’t keep straight faces spouting out the bullshit coming from the ol’ U.S. of A. “Freedoms” to many Americans, including those who think it was founded by the oppressively religious Puritans, is about the “freedom” of America to be a Christian nation and the “freedom” of [white] [arbitrarily born there] Christians to be American. Any attempt at treating all religions the same infringes on the freedoms of people who belong to the majority. Laws like counter-terrorism legislation that are made to violate the dignity and privacy of average citizens protect the freedoms that terrorists hate about America. (Fun fact: freedom in America isn’t that much of a concern to most of them.) Recent bills like SOPA seem to think that the “freedom” of giant business interests to reap as much inflated profit as they can from consumers are what America was really founded upon, and not the principles of justice and liberty that make everybody innocent until proven guilty, and better let 100 criminals go free than lock up a human being who never committed a crime.
But the freedoms to love whom one loves, live where one pleases, choose one’s own future, and not worship a god one doesn’t care to worship – those are lost on the right wing. They are racist and sexist and classist and ablist and ageist and bigoted and homophobic, but they appeal to the voters by saying that America is founded on these “freedoms”. Rick Santorum says freedoms are given to Americans by God. The Founding Fathers didn’t need to claim freedoms came from anywhere – they just, you know, held those truths to be self-evident.
And other parts of the West (read: Canada) are riding on these dangerous coattails. The “You’re either with us or against us” sentiment was explicitly used in an argument by our Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews (that’s pronounced “tayves” for any non-Manitobans or non-hockey fans) when he argued that if you don’t support a bill that removes any right to privacy without a warrant, you support child pornographers. Nobody buys that shit up here, Vic, except for those who are completely disengaged from politics and society but still for some reason go out to vote.
So please…don’t buy this shit. I’m probably preaching to the choir, but please…don’t let those around you buy this shit. Make politicians say what they are really in favour of. They won’t get many votes if they’re honest.