Thursday, June 21, 2012
Conservative is a misnomer for the current movement in American politics that dates back to 1994 contract with America. Ironically what most characterizes the movement is an embrace of economic libertarianism (which I loathe because it's both stupid and evil, but that's another discussion). It's a fundamentalist version of "liberal" economic policy, i.e. laissez-faire, that we're familiar with from Dickens novels etc. The current version is not conservative at all as it has tried to make big changes in the social contract, getting rid of or privatizing many or most of the public sector. Us hapless liberals are cast as the conservatives, desperately and not very successfully trying to save the institutions (social security, medicare, national parks, public education, foster care, etc.) that the "greatest" and earlier generations built for us. The words liberal and conservative could both be very positive, but political consultants have done a very good job injecting them with venom. I remember reading a survey from around 1960 where a large majority of Americans (including republicans) considered themselves liberal. The same survey was performed a few years ago, and hardly anyone wanted to identify themselves as that.