20 March 2008

Politics: Conservative

I find it odd that people describe me as a liberal, although I don't mind that monicker given what I believe conservative has come to mean in this country. Case in point, my wife's uncle has a t-shirt with American Revolutionary "patriots" saying "Right wing crazies" or some such.

Now, Conservative is described as a political philosophy that favours tradition and gradual change. Another description of conservative is cautious with adherence to custom and precedent. Any movement toward change is considered. The American Revolutionaries were in no way conservative. They broke from England in contradiction of law and for no sensible reason. The American Revolutionaries were like bratty children. And, the people in the United States which claim the title "conservative" are in no way conservative either, especially if they wish claim to being the rebels' progeny.

On the other hand, that appellation has changed quite a bit since Richard Nixon. Looking back at Nixon's administration, he would seem surprisingly liberal to today's conservative. I would also posit that James Clark McReynolds would also seem very liberal by today's standards. He believed that the liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment included an individual's right "to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, to establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience, and generally to enjoy privileges, essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men". This belief eventually went on to found the right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut 381 U.S. 479 (1965), and the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

McReynolds also penned US v. Miller 307 U.S. 174 (1939) and its Collective right interpretation of the Second Amendment. Justice McReynolds would find Justice Kennedy's comment about Miller being "deficient" as showing Kennedy's mental deficiency. McReynolds was a person to whom things were obvious. To McReynolds issues were right or wrong, and if you could not tell the difference then no amount of explanation would help. He had no patience for those who disagreed. What was right, was self-evident.

McReynolds didn't feel the need to spell out his decisions for those who were not at his intellectual level. So, I believe Justice McReynolds would return Justice Kennedy's "complement".

Additionally, the Supreme Court which is considered "Conservative" may overturn McReynold's precedent in US v. Miller wihtout any real basis. It goes against the Court second guessing legislation. It goes against public policy. And it goes against logic if the reason is merely that "the public believe the Second Amendment comprises this right". I have mentioned the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum ad naseum and don't feel the need to repeat what it is. I would also add it goes against the rule of law.

Anyway, there are a few strains of conservativism: Cultural, religious, and fiscal. I would also add neo-conservativism, however, I am not sure what that really is. Neo-Conservativism runs contrary to everything that Conservativism is supposed to be.

A bit of an aside, Conservatives are also supposed to value property rights. An RKBA type wrote to say that he believed his right to self-defence outweighed my rights as property owner. This is thorough nonsense as self-defence is limited by law. I am allowed to bar firearms from my property and you are free not to enter if you feel this is not safe.

Cultural conservativism supports preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture. There is a national myth in the United States which varies greatly with US history. They myth began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the proud yeoman rising up against British tyranny. Although, the more I read Loyalist history, the less I believe that there was any strong support for the rebellion. In fact, I believe many people were forced to the "patriot" cause, but this isn't the place to expound on that. The independent frontiersman is the image we see, instead of the middle class citizen of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Alexandria, Baltimore, Hartford, Providence, Charleston, and Savannah. The first is a myth and the latter is the reality.

Religious conservativism. Again, the radical right is doing everything to trash people's freedom of conscience. Amazing that someone like Justice McReynolds can be considered the father of Roe v. Wade! Additionally, the puritan strain, those who came from Cromwell and the New Model Army were the ones who wanted a separation of Church and State. Yet historical amnesia has struck and we see the resurgence of Cromwell and the New Model Army.

Fiscal conservativism. Is a joke from my previous posts. "Tax and spend" is vilified yet we have profligate spending on the military. We spend more on Iraq while this nation crumbles. Of course, there is a study that says more people are liberal/progressive than conservative in this country; however, one couldn't tell that from the media. And the media is supposedly liberal.

But, then again, what exactly is a conservative since I have just shown that Justice McReynolds would seem liberal by today's standards. He might have to become politically correct, but he would seem liberal. So, labels such as conservative and liberal seem to make no sense in US politics. And, given what conservativism has come to mean, as opposed to what I understand it to be, I am glad to be called something else.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I am not sure where Justice Kennedy was going with the "deficient" comment, but since McReynolds was a known bastard, I will not retract this. I believe McReynolds would have done something as fucked up as that

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