En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/16/0522
January 16, 2009 5:22 AM - Mike
Mike at The Big Stick said...
liberal > moderate liberal > centrist < moderate conservative < conservative
If we diagram out the basic political structure in this country I think the above is a model we can agree on. Obviously there are all sorts of additional sub-classifications we can dream up but this is the basic structure in the U.S. If we're okay with that, I think we can both admit that much of what we have been talking about is more along the lines of classic liberal / conservative thought. What you have articulated (if i understand you correctly) is that liberalism is a forward-thinking ideology that relies on reason and loads of data to constantly suggest 'improvements' for society and also works towards a culture that becomes more and more flexible within a certain set of guiding principles to prevent anarchy. What you have also articulated is that conservatism is the counter-balance to this, the ying to liberalism's yang. Conservatives stand atop the inevitable march towards the future and a more perfect society and yell STOP! Conservatives are constantly looking backwards, constantly fantasizing about the 'good ol' days' and while we have rules, they are not unified into any coherent theory but instead exist rather hodgepodge and disjointed. We mostly try to delay progress.
Since I never really got your definition of ‘progressive’ maybe that would be a good question to ask now. If you agree with me that it describes a goal or someone that seeks change then do you also believe that by default most liberals are progressive? Assuming you are going to agree with me on the gist of what it means to be ‘progressive’ then the only question left to answer is “Can a conservative be progressive’ ?
What I would like to do is go repeat my original thesis which is that ‘progress’ is not the exclusive domain of the Left. I believe conservatives have advanced a number of forward-thinking ideas in the last decade. I go back to schools again. There is a growing consensus that liberals, not conservatives, have been the most resistant to change in school policy, mostly because of their ties with teacher’s unions. I read a lot of non-partisan education reports and there is a real sense of frustration out there. Look at all the positive press that Michelle Rhee is getting in Washington DC for her plan to demand more accountability from teachers, which is a conservative talking point. There’s also a ton of data that shows parents, especially poor/minority parents, want school choice, which has been a major conservative policy suggestion for quite some time.
There are some liberal ideas out there on education and some are decent. They want schools to improve just like conservatives do. So both sides have progressive goals and progressive plans, but I would contend that if you rate them on the level of departure from the current norm, conservatives are more progressive on education than liberals these days.
Also, our example of the New Deal giving way to the Great Society and then Welfare Reform under Clinton. To use your example of paths through the jungle; I would say that liberals in the mid-1960’s believed that the New Deal was a dead end but that they could see the correct way to go from that trail. But they didn’t go backwards to find that trail. They started hacking through the underbrush looking for a shortcut. That took 30 years. Eventually some conservative tour guides tapped them on the shoulder and said, “You were on the right trail to begin with. But now that trail is overgrown (it had 30 years of neglect) so conservatives started got out their machetes and started clearing a new trail somewhere between the original and the lousy shortcut. So far this trail has really gotten us far.
The point is, liberals undertook a 30-year mistake that cause a lot of strife in this country. Conservatives were the ones that got the welfare system back on track with the demands they placed on Clinton. We didn’t go back to the New Deal. We suggested a third way, which was a ‘progressive’ solution. We had to drag the Left kicking and screaming away from the Great Society welfare state. I’m sorry but just because liberals eventually got on board and saw the error of their ways doesn’t mean you get credit for finding the right path.
I’m going to take issue with a couple of your rules:
2. You can only claim someone is doing this if they used abortion instead of proper contraception, i.e. the pregnancy resulted from knowingly-unprotected sex
I disagree. What I believe is the more likely attitude among those having abortions is, “I will attempt to use the pill / condom / etc but if that fails, I’ll just get an abortion.” So in that respect I think abortion has just become Part II of a two-part plan for birth control. Since the first part requires either remembering daily medication or stopping a passionate moment to get a condom, the second part is a convenient fallback. I think the 47% of women who are getting abortions for a second time backs up that thinking.
In a sense, isn’t that what liberals wanted anyway? Most liberals don’t see a fetus in the first trimester (when most abortions occur) as a life anyway, so in that context an abortion would be just another part of the family planning tool kit.
3. You can only claim someone is doing this if they were aware that unprotected sex leads to procreation.
You seem to put a lot of stock in this rule here, since you use it to discredit or at least raise doubts about most of my assertions. So let me be clear here: As someone who became a father at 19 and as someone whose wife is a social worker and tells me lots of stories about the kids she works with….I can tell you that the vast majority of kids get pregnant because they’re just irresponsible. That was certainly what happened with me. It’s not because they don’t know where babies come from or because they couldn’t get any contraceptives or because they weren’t educated about how to use the contraceptives properly. They’re just irresponsible. Girls forget to take their pills and roll the dice. Couples have sex without using a condom because it feels better and hope for the best. Etc. This isn’t a matter of education or access….it’s a matter of responsibility. Kids these days learn all that stuff very early and mostly without parents even telling them. My daughter knew all of that stuff before I ever got a chance to tell her because it’s all over the place. You would almost have to be comatose to not know this stuff.
As for the rest of the discussion… the facts came from the Guttmacher Institute, which is the only organization I ever get my abortion data from because they have been doing this for 40 years and I believe they are thouroughly non-partisan.