Yesterday’s liberal is today’s conservative
I love listening to conservatives. I really do. It seems that when they talk about the human condition, they talk in very static terms. They think that they have such a clear idea of what’s wrong with the human imagination and human range of activities that they only need to hold back. They have such an easy answer for everything because they think that it’s all about human nature.
For example, take the case of welfare. They gladly point to the fact that ever since President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s war on poverty in the late 1960s, the American government has spent all told trillions of US dollars on the problem and poverty still remains, on a percentage level, the same. They’re saying that all that money just went down the toilet. They’re saying that all that political will amounted to nothing.
You have to understand that the lives of poor people now are no way the same as the lives of poor people in the past. While liberals still dream and continue to work towards the total eradication of poverty, you can bet that poverty now is not the same bone-grinding, soul-crushing poverty that Lyndon Baines Johnson had to deal with. We consider that a victory. While it is far from perfect, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
This is why we are convinced that yesterday’s liberal is nothing but today’s conservative. In other words, people who talk a conservative game are only able to do that because they were enabled and empowered by the dreams and hard work of liberals in the past. The fact that you’re even reading this or if you are a woman, the fact that you can work or you have a right to decide based on the privacy of your body whether you’re going to live with an unwanted pregnancy or not, is due to the hard work of liberals.
Now, a lot of people are conservative based solely because of the hard work, tears, sweat and visions of liberals of the past. Still, it fills us with some sort of measure of comfort knowing that deep down in our hearts that today’s liberal struggles, whether it’s for the rights of transsexuals to be who they want to be or for Muslims to live safely in the United States or people without documentation to live and work freely in the United States, will eventually become conservative boilerplate in the future. It’s only a matter of time.
The funny thing about conservatism is that it really all boils down to resisting change. In fact, the granddaddy of the modern American conservative movement, no less than William F. Buckley himself, admitted that conservatism really is all about straddling America as it moves forward to the future and yelling stop. That’s it. That’s the great project of American conservatism.
It doesn’t talk about winding the clock backwards. It doesn’t talk about steering America to a better place. Instead, it talks about just slowing things down. That’s the best it could do. That’s the best it could hope for. Well, they’re a day late and a buck short because America needs the future right here right now.
The great thing about liberals is that they are willing to pay any price and go the distance just to make that happen. Conservatives are, by definition, cowards for not doing this because they run for cover to shield themselves from realities of the present-day world by engaging in all sorts of fiction about the past.
Make no mistake about it. The past is never as rosy or as uplifting as the conservatives imagine it to be. Instead, oftentimes it is a time of trial, humiliation, pain, embarrassment and failure for too many Americans. Liberals stand united to make the future happen now regardless of whether conservatives will accept it or not. Each and every day we live is a day we get closer and closer to the future.
That’s why we can say with a straight face and with maximum assurance that today’s liberal is yesterday’s conservative just as today’s liberal is tomorrow’s conservative.