Conservative—The Word And How It Was Hijacked

Merriam-Webster says of the word “Conservative”
adjective con·ser·va·tive \ kən-ˈsər-və-tiv \
1 a : of or relating to a philosophy of conservatism
b capitalized : of or constituting a political party professing the principles of conservatism: such as
(1) : of or constituting a party of the United Kingdom advocating support of established institutions
(2) : progressive conservative
2 a : tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions : traditional conservative policies
b : marked by moderation or caution : a conservative estimate

There are a few more definitions after this, but we get to stop at 2B because it’s the origin of the word, based on the word “Conserve”.

As you can see, the political/social/religious definitions pop up at the top of the definitions. Odd, really considering the origin of the word is not political, but an adjective describing a discipline. “marked by moderation or caution”

All other definitions of the word, especially the political, religious, and social labels, are derivative of the original term. But as we well know, those definitions have taken on a life and meaning of their own. One such definition is “opposed to change”. And that has become the meaning that most modern people associate with the word “Conservative”.

That’s actually a recent development.

Conservatism, even as a political and social label used to mean exactly what its origin implies…cautious, moderate, not prone to reactionary practices, or untested theories. This is what the conservative in conservation conservatism used to mean.

The grown ups in the room. The minds that wanted all the information before making a decision. The educated and informed decisions of people who looked at a problem from all angles, measured and studied remedies based on past proofs, implementation of action carefully and cognizant of its impact on other areas, and the ability to reexamine one’s actions for adjustment  or abandonment when reality of an action doesn’t meet expectation. A scientific approach. An intelligent approach.

That certainly doesn’t describe those who are self proclaimed Conservatives today. Conservatives today seem almost in fear of facts. They run from data on their actions. Ignore the facts of their mistakes, and instead use debate tricks and fallacies to distract others away from those failures.

I’m a Conservative. I have been since before I could vote. I cast my first ballot for Ronald Wilson Reagan the same year I enlisted in the Army. And I voted the Conservative party or the Conservative candidate every election until I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore.Like many moderates in the Republican party, I’ve left them.

We watched and worried for decades over the growing influence of the Religious Right on the party and the chilling influence they’ve had on GOP policy and platform. Conservatives (moderation and caution), would never abandon the intent of the Constitution to keep a wall of separation between church and state. Individual conservatives might, but as a body it would be unthinkable to blend religion and government…especially considering the 100% failure rate of those governments in all of recorded history and the very clear division created by the founders: “No religious test EVER” as it is spelled out for us in black iron ink on parchment in the Constitution.

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
~Barry Goldwater

“Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives.”
~Barry Goldwater

Things started going down hill after that. One thing we know about religion (regardless of your feelings about religion itself) is that it requires no proof to form a following. All it requires is passion and belief. Belief without proof is the opposite of educated, informed, and cautious. And it is subject to manipulation as is evidenced by the seemingly limitless number of wars fought over religions that promote peace, love, and forgiveness.

Sadly, the groups that most benefited from this merger between religion and government are the wealthy micro minority who fund it. Seriously? Do you think a person with 20 billion dollars, three yachts, hundreds of offshore tax shelters, uncountable settlements for violations of oversight in the industries they rule, and a fat bonus from shareholders every time a politician they supported is elected, is concerned about “muh guns”, “two dudes getting married”, “an immoral act committed by a woman they’ve never met?” Really?

The fact is, that marriage, the real unholy marriage event between religion and politics, has made those who call themselves “Conservative” anything but. There is no moderation or caution in their actions. But those super-rich cash hoarders sure did get that 91% to 70% tax rate sliced down over 40 years…down to the point that some if not most, pay little to nothing in taxes at all. Interesting…don’t you think? The saddest part of all is that the moderate, cautious, educated and informed decision by Conservatives of the past to tax at 70% to 91% on top earners, was enacted because Conservatives of the distant past had learned that if you don’t FORCE the ultra wealthy to reinvest their earnings in the economy (with a punitive tax rate that any smart person would never pay), they will harvest those earnings, shutter operations except the most profitable, and strand entire economies hanging on the dictates of shareholders. They don’t give a shit about society.

Punitive taxation to force reinvestment was a Conservative action. And it worked. From the end of the WWII until the 1980s, that punitive tax rate (which almost no one paid because people aren’t stupid), built the largest middle class in history, forged a super power out of a relatively new nation, and created an industrial revolution never before seen. Then the loopholes came, then the tax cuts, then the off shoring of industry because hey, the taxes are cheap enough now that we don’t have to reinvest here with expensive labor and compete between business for educated workers, or provide pensions, or healthcare, or two weeks of vacation a year….or a 5 day work week. Profit is higher and look, the taxes are even so low we can take the products we make in a foreign land with labor that used to be American, and sell it to Americans who now have to work two or more jobs to make the same amount they used to with one.

Moderation…Caution…Educated…Informed. Now called RINO, or worse, Liberal. Fine…be that way. I’ll go vote with them now.

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