7.12. The Current Status of Conservatism

Is conservatism today about moving forward cautiously—or trying to go backwards?

I’m a liberal. But I still see some value in conservative thinking.

The emphasis on order, stability, and liberty is a good thing. So is the skepticism of governmental waste and overreach.

If I felt conservatism was about wise caution, about moderation, about tapping the brakes to rein in the liberal instinct to hit the accelerator, and introduce too much change too quickly…I could work with that. I’d even consider voting for that, in certain situations.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Conservativism nowadays seems to be more about grievance, about scapegoating, about preventing any amount of change, about slamming on the accelerator in reverse, instead of moving forward cautiously.

But I don’t actually think the divide between liberals and conservatives is irreconcilable.

We live in a time of really rapid social change. But the effects of all this change aren’t distributed equally.

Young people, women, people of color, people who live in cities—these are people who feel the need to accept the change, embrace the change, keep pace with and get out in front of the change.

People whose fortunes are declining, people who live in places that are largely the same as they were fifty years ago—it makes sense to me why they would be resistant.

But the source of these changes isn’t meddlesome, conspiring liberals.

It’s the current array of political, economic, and social forces in this growing, globalizing, diverse world.

Immigrants aren’t taking your jobs.

Transitions in the global economy, that make it cheaper to move those jobs overseas, are what’s taking away jobs.

High taxes and government spending aren’t why rural America is suffering.

The fact that the wealthy have hoarded all the economic growth for themselves for the past forty years is why the middle class is suffering.

I don’t blame big corporations for running amok—doing whatever makes the most money is what the current system encourages them to do.

But they really need to be reined in and held accountable by the people. Which is really hard to do, when we’re too busy bickering with each other to be a unified political force.

More than anything, I wish conservatives applied the same skepticism and accountability they apply to the government to the corporations and economic elites that are taking their jobs away from them.

I wish they saw people of color as their allies in holding our institutions accountable to injustices, not as enemies competing for the same shrinking piece of the pie.

I wish I felt like their primary interest is in moving forward cautiously—not in obstructing all change and trying to go backwards.

I wish I felt like the silent majority of decent, hard-working conservatives were running their party, instead of the business, religious, and racist extremists who treat anything less than the total implementation of their agenda as an abomination.

But I think there are some common interests here. I think this gap is bridgeable.

But as I said in the previous video, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it, unless we do something about this two-party duopoly that pretty much guarantees the American people will be split in half and pitted against each other.


This is the 120th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *