"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." W. Churchill
A recent column by Susan Paslov described how conservative and liberal labels are distorted from their classical definitions. I, too, would like to see an end to people being so classified. But that isn't likely to happen for reasons which I'll explain.
The divisiveness fueled by "liberal" and "conservative" labels, it is argued, could be overcome by rational people if they would resolve differences and solve problems by thoroughly examining life's complications and stop looking for simple solutions.
But as Will Rogers said, "I've never met a man I didn't like..." He didn't say, "I've never met a group I didn't like..." One-on one, I've had thoughtful, objective discourse on just about every subject under the sun with dedicated "liberals" - liberals by today's mistaken definition. And more often than not, together we arrived at acceptable solutions to complex problems without losing mutual respect or compromising our ideals.
But that's not possible with large groups. Group psychology galvanizes relatively benign ideologies into hard-line, unyielding dogmas, especially when power politics are involved. With all those cushy, well-paying "spoils" jobs on the line, there's no room for objective dialogue. Too much at stake! Perpetuation of power drives truth from the arena of ideas.
I carry the "conservative" label no matter how badly it's distorted by my detractors. I think it's only fair that my readers know where I stand. We are what we are and we should be content with that.
Now, let's take a look at the "liberal" legacy and you'll better understand why that label has become a dirty word in the conservative vocabulary. Conservatism has remained relatively unchanged during the past 40 years. Truth is truth! Liberalism, on the other hand, has given us abortion, militant feminism, political correctness and racial quotas, all extremely divisive.
When I was at UCLA in the late 1940s, we had genuine ideological dialogue on campus in the classical, educational sense. Today, it's rare when conservatives can speak, or host an open debate on any university campus, without being shouted down by rowdies, who do so with impunity. Universities are the incubators of "liberalism," and for 35 years, they've inculcated that doctrine into the minds of student journalists, now media members who are the clarions of "liberalism" who have never been exposed to conservative ideals!
Why do you suppose today's radio talk shows are 95 percent conservative? God knows the liberals have tried repeatedly to field their own talk shows with hosts like Mario Cuomo, Gary Hart and others, but they never last more than a month. Why? Because today's "liberalism" is intellectually bankrupt and the only people who haven't awakened to that are the universities and members of the media.
"Liberalism," as an ideology, only offers impediments to society's creativity and demands asset redistribution by government. It's old socialism masked in compassionate clothing. And our university campuses are the bastions of such deception. If you're a professor, you either play the "liberal" game or you don't get tenure. If you're a student, you play the "liberal"-feminist game or you get bad grades. It's a closed shop.
And as long as such conduct is tacitly permitted, we conservatives have no choice but to wage ideological war. The "liberal" dream is to capture every young mind within a university setting where "liberalism" can't be challenged.
Shooting from the hip? Simplistic answers? "Liberals" are the ones shooting from the hip! They lay claim to educational and moral high ground referring to conservatives as Neanderthals, and then isolate themselves from honest debate by hiding within the cocoons of higher learning. Yes, I agree that we shouldn't gloss over complex problems but where are the open, non-biased forums for educating ourselves on all sides of critical issues?
Along with abortion, militant feminism, political correctness and racial quotas, we must be able to openly explore fundamental conservatism, which is to keep government as small and limited as possible, coupled with unimpeded opportunity for all individuals to be the best they can be, versus liberal ideology of big government as our prime benefactor, ruled by politicians whose objectives are self-perpetuation in exchange for redistributing our assets through the creation of phony government jobs and endless social programs. Yes! This cries for intellectual debate!
No, I'm afraid labels like conservative, liberal, reactionary, uncaring, mean-spirited, racist, insensitive, greedy and homophobic will be around for a long time. And for the record, all but the first two were pinned on "conservatives" by "liberals."
Bob Thomas is a Carson City businessman, local curmudgeon and former member of the Carson City School Board and Nevada State Assembly.