What Do Conservatives Want to Conserve?
Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” has rekindled memories, in aging Baby Boomers, of a “Leave it to Beaver” land that was idyllic and awesome. While clearly reality has been air-brushed by those who sell it to the public for a very long time, those of us who were alive fifty years ago understand just how far America has fallen.
The word “conservative” implies a desire to protect, to conserve, the present trappings of a civilization. I am sometimes cynical enough to agree with Ambrose Bierce’s adage that a conservative “is enamored with existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wants to replace them with others” While one can make a convincing argument that there was something worthwhile preserving in our society fifty or sixty years ago, it is impossible to find much worth “conserving” now.
Our economy is so unbalanced, with a wealth disparity that may well result in most of the country being penniless paupers soon, that no rational person can want to “conserve” it. Trade deals like NAFTA and the soon-to-be implemented TPP have decimated American industry and destroyed the blue-collar working class. Nothing worth “conserving” there. Our curiously open-door immigration policy, which has led to a flooding of the labor market with hungry workers willing to work for low wages, is driven exclusively by greed and is hardly worth “conserving.”
Our culture literally resembles what Mike Judge spoofed in his film Idiocracy. When Snoop Dog, Honey Boo Boo, the Kardashians and Kanye West are your cultural icons, you have a culture that is not worth “conserving.” Can we really envision audiences watching the fart-fueled “comedies” of an Adam Sandler or a Will Ferrell, or the politically correct violence-porn of a Quentin Tarantino, one hundred years from now? Will anyone still be reading the trashy “literature” that presently litters the New York Times best-seller lists? Most of the greatest writers in history could not be published in today’s world. There are no Shakespeares, Dickens, Mozarts or Nikola Teslas around to “conserve.”
Outside of Ron Paul and a few others, what politicians of the past few decades are worth “conserving?” The only thing worth conserving about our political system is the system itself, as designed by the Founding Fathers. But those who have corrupted it, and continue to run it into the ground, are certainly not worth “conserving.”
Conservatives love to thrust out their chests and proclaim, “This is the best country in the world- why don’t you move if you don’t like it?” It is impossible to quantify which country is “better” in a geological sense, but conservatives imply that the American people are the best, their collective beliefs are the best, their flag is the best.
So what does the record suggest about the collective beliefs of the American people? First and foremost, it indicates that they are startlingly naive, almost like stunted adolescents clinging to tooth fairy-level fantasies. They continue to elect and re- elect the most unattractive political candidates imaginable. They are fooled by the same empty rhetoric about “the children” or “keeping America strong.” They fall for the same insincere compliments about “the American people” being stronger, greater, more patient and more willing to sacrifice than any other people anywhere.
The American people also have very short collective memories. As I demonstrated in Hidden History, there are countless examples of official chicanery and corruption, that the American people have completely forgotten, if they ever paid attention to the scant initial press coverage of them. Like bewildered, battered spouses, they have a powerful case of Stockholm Syndrome, and pathetically suspect that their abuser has abused them for the last time, and is finally ready to reform.
Our infrastructure is crumbling to pieces, giving much of America a real Third-World look and feel. What is worth “conserving” about that? Meanwhile, our resources are primarily directed into the Military-Industrial Complex Eisenhower warned us about nearly sixty years ago. Black holes, black budgets, black operations and top-secret clearances predominate in the national security state. And yet Americans seem desperate to “conserve” all this. Why do we want to “conserve” the foreign bombings and occupations abroad, and a domestic clandestine apparatus that has resulted in the past in citizens being dosed with LSD and their cities bombarded with germs and viruses?
I understand wanting to conserve the Constitution. Certainly we should all understand the importance of maintaining the Bill of Rights. But what is worth “conserving” about more recent unconstitutional monstrosities like the Homeland Security Department and the Patriot Act, which nearly all conservatives support? How do such things tie in with the traditional “Americanism,” the baseball and apple pie variety?
Do conservatives want to “conserve” the odious concepts of “hate crime” and “hate speech?” “Free speech zones?” They clearly want to “conserve” sinful bonuses for corporate executives, and no annual pay raises for their employees. They approve of the same corporations who are outsourcing and moving offshore bestowing hundreds of thousands of dollars in “part time” income on already incredibly wealthy executives who sit on each other’s Boards of Directors, and “earn” this incredible gratuity by attending a handful of yearly meetings.
“Conservatives” became transformed during the Reagan years. Formerly known for their vociferous anti-communism, and fierce defense of at least a facsimile of liberty, they gradually morphed into Ayn Rand disciples, whose entire philosophy boils down to a devout worship of wealth and the infallible marketplace.
Thus, modern conservatives quite naturally want to “conserve” the rigged marketplace, the Ebeneezer Scrooge-way of doing business, that has served so many of them so well. They are terrified of all this changing. These self-proclaimed”wealth creators” cherish impossibly accelerated executive pay and bonuses, combined with massive layoffs and elimination of benefits. And most of them celebrate this new conservatism by going to church regularly. They honestly believe they deserve this.
This is why both Trump and Sanders are so dangerous to the establishment. The disastrous trade deals have led directly to the de-industrialization of America. The non-stop influx of illegal immigrants and foreign Visa workers have led to drastically reduced wages and benefits, and a real unemployment rate of at least 25%. The dramatic consolidation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands has led to a lowered standard of living for the majority of Americans. It’s very simple; if you let one man have thousands of times more money than another, he will still not be able to purchase thousands of times more goods and services. It’s impossible to maintain a viable economy with this kind of income disparity. But conservatives want to “conserve” all this.
“Law and order” conservatives are apparently satisfied with our out-of-control police forces, and the fact the “bad eggs” are never punished by their superiors. They want to “conserve” a legal system where only the rich and celebrated receive any semblance of justice, while the common riff-raff are lucky to get five minutes with their public defender, who won’t even attempt to defend them. They want to “conserve” traffic light cameras, installed specifically to pad the budgets of law enforcement, and further the 1984-Orwellian ambiance across the land.
There are some things still worth conserving. The environment, for example. What’s left of our civil liberties. What’s left of our theaters and museums. But on almost every front, we need massive reform, massive changes of the rational kind. This primary season has exposed the rotten process for what it is, with its undisguised voting fraud, theft of delegates and undermining of the will of the public. Judging by the conservatives who support the likes of Ted Cruz, this anti-democratic system is something else they want to “conserve.”
Conservatives love to brag about our bloated medical system, which has become so expensive it is evolving into yet another privilege only the rich enjoy. Do we want to “conserve” life expectancy rates that are lower than twenty four other nations, including Slovenia? An infant mortality rate that ranks 167th in the world? Other than leading the world in obesity, diabetes, and prescribed pharmaceuticals, exactly what is so great about our medical system? Do we want to “conserve” its astronomical costs?
By advocating for a continuation of the status quo, conservatives are putting their imprimatur on an authoritarian political correctness that threatens to jail citizens for using “offensive” words, a society that punishes whistle blowers and ignores true wrongdoing, and a narcissistic business world that treats most of its workers like pawns on a chessboard, while hoarding all the wealth with the entitled mindsets of medieval monarchs.
Obviously, I find little to like about either the conventional “left” or “right.” But there is something truly ridiculous about a group that advocates “conserving” any aspect of our dying and decaying society. Not to mention, of course, that such “conservatism” confers an endorsement upon the incompetent thugs who are in charge.
Donald Trump is only scratching the surface with his criticism of our policies and those who have implemented them. We are dealing with absolute tyranny and an entrenched aristocracy that is as incompetent as it is corrupt. There is little anywhere about present-day America that is worth “conserving.”