En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/18/1601

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January 18, 2009 4:01 PM - Woozle

Woozle said...

re "change for the sake of change": this may be true in some ways, but I'm thinking it's more likely that liberals are more likely to perceive the problems with the status quo than are conservatives -- not so much "boredom" as (a) being less able to brush off suffering in others,and/or (b) possibly being in less ideal circumstances themselves, where they see those circumstances as being the result of failures of the system -- violations of social contracts or basic rules of fairness. (Conservatives like to blame the victim for everything, and hence are unsympathetic to either of these ideas.)

I don't think you have to be "bored" or even discontent, though, to see change as a positive thing. It's probably a symptom of having a curious mind; conservatives strike me as generally incurious (with Bush being a prime example) and unimaginative. They don't like asking questions that start with "What if", because they don't have a reference to tell them what the answer is.

I have no problem with conservatives having their little niches of safety, stability, and predictability; I just don't want them wrapping their little safety-blankets around me and mine, thanks; they may help keep you safe, but they can also be stifling.

re "there are some circumstances... where conservatives DO offer ‘progressive’ solutions that move us forward...: I think I can even offer a class of examples in which this is true. Liberals tend to dislike Big Engineering solutions to things, or at least did when I was growing up -- one particular incident which comes to mind was the protests against the launch of some interplanetary probes, some time in the 1980s iirc (because of the "deadly plutonium" it had on board as a power supply and the consequent risk of environmental contamination if the launch failed and it crashed), protests against huge hydroelectric dams (ecologically disruptive).

I'm not saying these protests are always wrong, but they do have a tendency to be retrogressive. Conservatives may fear science and reason, but liberals seem to have a distaste for large engineering projects.

Conservatives generally favor such things (with the possible exception of spending government money on space exploration... which is unfortunate, because it's my favorite of the bunch), and hence are being more "progressive". Are they really being "conservative", though? Or just capitalistic (power plants make money, and big rockets mean big government contracts)?

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re "we want just want the Left to be open to the idea that there are conservatives who are seeking change that is not based on just hitting the rewind button.": I'm certainly open to that idea, but I have yet to see it in action... lately, anyhow.

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re "So then why are you so offended by the notion that abortion is used as ‘birth control’..." I was expecting that question...

1. For the same reason I'm offended when Conservapedia claims Obama is a Muslim, even though I'd have no more problem with the idea of a Muslim president than I do with a Christian president: it's a lie. Lies piss me off.
2. Because, as with the Obama claim, it plays to an audience which is bothered by that idea, and turns them against something (legal abortions or Obama as president) on the strength of a false claim (women use abortion as contraception, Obama is a Muslim) -- while implicitly reinforcing their biases (against "abortion as contraception"* or a Muslim becoming president). *I do think this would be a rather wasteful practice, at best, but you're right that I don't see it as a heinous crime.
3. Because it seriously maligns the intentions and responsibility of women who seek abortions
4. Because (as I gradually figured out while responding to you) it's a maddeningly vague accusation -- perhaps even impossible to disprove, depending on what you mean by it...
4a. ...which makes it only of use as a tool to manipulate the uninformed, not something which helps us understand the problem better. A little like asking "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

You haven't answered my key question, though: how many times must a woman successfully use contraception before being able to seek abortion without being accused of "using abortion as contraception"? Under what circumstances can a woman legitimately seek an abortion just because she doesn't want to have a baby, according to you? What abortion scenarios do you accept as not being "abortion used as contraception"?

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And here's a "progressive conservative" scenario for you:

My understanding/assumption has always been that we're trying to reduce two things: the number of abortions and the number of unwanted children.

It's understandable that people might assume that restricting access to abortion would accomplish the first of these things, so I can forgive conservatives for initially pushing in this direction.

Now that the data is in, however, we find that it has essentially no effect. This brings up several questions in my mind:

1. Why do conservatives continue to push for it, since it doesn't work?
2. And, hey, why do conservatives also push for ideas like abstinence-based "education", which actually increase the number of abortions?
3. Why aren't "progressive conservatives" out there pushing for research to develop a genuine, forward-looking solution to the problem -- such as fetus transplantation and (ultimately) artificial wombs?

If it were possible for a "nice conservative couple" to simply step in and take over hosting of an unwanted fetus, I'd be much more inclined to agree that there could be restrictions on abortion. Any couple who have been cleared as adoptive parents (rules which are probably too strict now, as it is) should be allowed to have first dibs on unwanted live embryos and fetuses; if no takers can be found in a reasonable time, only then may the fetus be aborted in the traditional way (killed and disposed of).

Would "progressive conservatives" embrace such a solution -- even in the face of the likely fundie backlash? I can just see the picket signs: "Romans 1:26 - God delivered them to degrading passions as their females exchanged their natural sexual function for one that is unnatural -- artificial embryo transplants ARE ABOMINATION!" (...only with worse spelling)

And for that matter, are "progressive conservatives" fighting against abstinence-based non-education, creationism, and other backwards nonsense? Do they favor stem-cell research and other medical advances? Mandatory sex education, free contraception (take away every excuse for being "irresponsible")?

Convince me you're actually reasonable and not just trying to sound reasonable.

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