Elizabeth Price Foley writes:
So let me get this straight: Liberals are “favorable to progress” while conservatives are “disposed to … limit change.” Ugh.
I had to write my daughter’s teacher a note to politely point out that while these might be decent generic definitions of the words, they are not accurate in the specific context of a civics class or study of the American political system. In that context, the relevant distinction between liberals and conservatives has nothing to do with being favorable or unfavorable toward “progress” or “change,” but a difference in view about the proper size and scope of governmental power, with liberals believing generally in bigger government, conservatives believing generally in smaller government.
If this is how our children are learning to define “liberals” and “conservatives,” we are in BIG trouble, folks. Anyone with kids out there needs to monitor their child’s civics materials carefully.
When the Democrats are lobbying to have the government formally define marriage and make sure that people are not getting legal recognition for a kind of sex which used to not get that recognition, and the Republicans are lobbying to reduce and eliminate laws about abortion, Ms. Foley will have an excellent point. Well, maybe when the Republican party has decriminalization of drugs as a plank, too.
Right now, though, the fact is that the US liberals are consistently more liberal in the traditional sense, and the US conservatives are consistently more conservative in the traditional sense. The Republican party does not in general stand for smaller government, or even for shrinking government; only for changing the focus of where the government grows. The Democrats do tend to stand for larger government, except on the many occasions when they actively seek to reduce the size and scope of government involvement.
I feel bad for the “conservatives” who actually want smaller government, because they haven’t got any candidates to vote for right now. The choice is between people who want to vastly increase spending on a bunch of stupid stuff, and people who want to vastly increase spending on a bunch of wasteful stuff. Not quite sure which is which, most days…
Wanna monitor your child’s civics materials for accuracy? Start with the core of all accuracy: Being willing to admit uncomfortable truths. One of those is that the Republican party is very actively using fear of change as a major get-out-the-vote strategy, and has been since the first tentative hints of legislation to do with gay marriage. Another is that the Republican party has been the source of a large number of highly intrusive and restrictive laws to do with sex, drugs, and abortion. It is not reasonable to handwave those away; they are too large, and too significant.
And I would love to see this changed, as there are a lot of historical Republican views on government and economics that I’d like to see get a fair hearing, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the underlying principles that made America an interesting social experiment in order to appease the people who won’t vote for anyone who thinks maybe there is something to this science stuff after all.