What I'm in favor of
In my last entry, I gave a quick summary of the two main elements of the new American radical right. My description of these two schools of thought was pretty charitable, but it is worth understanding why reasonable, rational people who consider themselves to be good Americans might support political initiatives that are in reality quite corrosive to the fabric of our nation.
For this entry, I want to give an equally brief description, not of what I'm against but what I'm in favor of. Then I'll begin a more in-depth analysis of both the radical right and of my own beliefs as a conservative democrat.
I am very much a fiscal conservative; I have children and I don't want our generation to pass on a legacy of overwhelming national debt to future generations. There will be a lot more on the topic of fiscal conservatism, because most economic rhetoric of both parties tends to oversimplify or even ignore the actual economic theories that are really being used in think tanks and briefing memos. I'm going to leave this topic open, since it's a pretty complicated one, but suffice to say that free market economics, properly understood, don't actually support much of the Republican agenda. It's important for traditional conservatives to understand that many of the Democratic party's economic initiatives are actually better rooted in sound economic theory than the Republican party's.
I'm no novice on this topic; although my exposure to economic theory was fairly limited while I was at Harvard, I focused on it during law school -- and after working as a stockbroker, debt trader, and most recently as a mergers and securities lawyer, I know what I'm talking about - street knowledge as well as book knowledge.
Second, I support American cooperation in the international arena. The radical right, particularly the neoconservative school of thought, is isolationist and hawkish. The Religious Right doesn't really have a theory of international relations - they defer to the neocons. My own view of international relations is actually fairly close to the neoconservative model. While I was at Harvard I was extremely conservative and my thinking during the cold war was basically a neoconservative understanding of international relations. I'll get to the actual neoconservative model of international relations, but my purpose here is to describe what I'm in favor of, so here goes:
1) I think that the United States should be involved in foreign aid, debt reduction for poor nations, and other compassion-based initiatives in other countries - but not because of any concept of human rights, and with an eye to the fact that every dollar spent overseas might potentially be a dollar that's taken out of the American economy or (in a deficit economy) out of the hands of our children. Compassion-based initiatives have benefits, and should be viewed in this light. They promote epidemiological protections for the United States, they can, if properly conducted, support world stability (which helps our economy), they produce international goodwill, and they can be a tool for the advancement of worldwide democracy.
2) I support the idea of the United Nations, but I think there is indeed considerable room for the improvement of the United Nations now that the Cold War has ended.
3)I am not a pacifist, although I think it is a grave undertaking to commit US soldiers into harm's way. I believe there are circumstances in which the use of force in international relations is not only appropriate but sometimes necessary. Some international problems can only be achieved by the use of force. However, it should be understood that the neoconservative agenda which is now driving the Republican party is an agenda that supports an eternal state of under-the-surface warfare, an agenda that calls for constant expansion of American power-projection capability, an agenda of aggressive interference, brinksmanship, and shove-me, shove-you politics that will increasingly restrict our ability to grow the economy through free trade, joint initiatives to increase stability, and other ventures that can grow our economy. It is a misguided application of what started out as common sense.
The third thing I'm in favor of is protecting the rights of US citizens. Our rights are the very reason that our country was founded - the reason for its existence, the brilliant innovation that makes this country great. If we sell out our rights as they are embodied in the Constitution, we have lost sight of the ultimate purpose of national defense and of fiscal prosperity. It is individual, Constitutional rights that make this country a beacon for other nations, a place to be proud of, a place to make a home. The United States is based upon individual rights, not upon our national boundaries or our religion. The radical right has lost sight of this crucial fact and is in fact gnawing at the roots of the Constitution itself.
That's all for now about what I'm in favor of. I think my opinions will be pretty apparent in later entries as I get more specific about these issues.
It will become clear, I believe, that moderate, traditional conservatives fall pretty squarely within the Democratic party, not the Republican party - if you cut through the rhetoric.
Posted by mythmere
at 9:43 AM CDT