A liberal friend on Facebook just posted a link to an article called "What Conservatives Really Want" and asked his conservative friends to comment on its accuracy. I want to sincerely commend this friend for his desire to increase understanding, rather than just increase the rhetoric.
But moving on to the article. I have only skimmed it thus far, but a few remarks jumped out at me so forcefully that they really have me in a tizzy. Note the following excerpts where the author is trying to explain the conservative mindset about poverty (because he, clearly, has conversed intimately with many thoughtful conservatives and knows of whence he speaks -- insert rolling eyes here).
"Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don't think government should help its citizens. That is, they don't think citizens should help each other. . . . And what of people who are not prosperous? They don't have discipline, and without discipline they cannot be moral, so they deserve their poverty. The good people are hence the prosperous people. . . . No one should be paying for anyone else. It is individual responsibility in all arenas. Taxation is thus seen as taking money away from those who have earned it and giving it to people who don't deserve it."
I'm so appalled at this characterization I could bust a window. I am SO tired of being told that because I'm a conservative, I obviously hate poor people. And yet, this seems to be exactly what many liberals think. Let me make a few things clear about my conservative stance (and that of practically every conservative I know).
1) I do not -- absolutely do not!! -- believe that everyone living in poverty out there is undisciplined, immoral and/or undeserving of help. That they "deserve their poverty". OH . . . just the fact that I even have to state that is beyond unfuriating. The gall of this man.
2) I absolutely DO believe that citizens should help each other. As do most conservatives. As I mentioned in an earlier post, in recent surveys, conservatives have regularly been shown to give more to charity than liberals. They not only believe we should help, they DO help. Of course, this is conveniently ignored by liberals who need the world to see us as hateful. Grrrrr........
Seriously, folks -- I have to stop and emotionally recover from this before I go on. Such accusations are inexcusable.
Now, let's get to what seems to be the heart of this confusion on the part of liberals (at least, on the part of my thinking, reasonable liberal friends -- I'm not sure I can give this writer credit for being merely confused).
3) While I absolutely recognize that there are many people in our country with serious financial needs, I do not believe that that government aid is the method of choice for meeting all of those needs. PLEASE note clearly, my dear liberal friends, that this is a FAR CRY from saying that they don't deserve help, or that citizens shouldn't help each other, or that individual responsibility trumps all compassionate action. We absolutely should help each other! We just shouldn't need government to make us do it! I've commented in the past on the dangers of giving a government too much power, so I won't go into that again.
By all means -- let's figure out a way for people to get the healthcare they need! But can we really find no way to do it other than to give the whole thing over to the government?? It is not the government's job to ensure that everyone has healthcare. We should care for our neighbors ourselves.
I realize there's much more to be said on the issue of poverty and the government's role in dealing with it. But right now, I just needed to defend my side from the viciousness of this portrayal. GOOD GRIEF. So much for our new age of civility.