Monday, January 16, 2012

Modern Conservatives: Consistently Inconsistent

I heard a high school friend of mine once asked what characteristic he valued most in his friends. I was somewhat surprised to hear him say consistency. At first I thought that loyalty, love, or even common interest might be more important, but when the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that consistency really is a foundational basis of every healthy relationship. If someone is completely inconsistent, it is very difficult to establish any level of intimacy in a relationship of any kind, whether romantic, frienship, political, counselling, et cetera. We take for granted that our friends will have at least some level of consistency in their behaviourr, beliefs, and values. For someone to genuinely earn my respect, I find that I do demand consistency of them. Even if I don't know them personally, it is hard to respect someone whose views appear inconsistent. We tend to associate inconsistency as a character flaw in political candidates, a sign of weakness indicating that the candidate will simply form their views based on popularity rather than inner conviction about what is right. Even someone with whom we strongly disagree on an issue but who is consistent is much easier to communicate with than someone whose opinions are all over the map and changing daily. If you think about it, almost any human conversation, certainly any argument, demands consistency. If we perceive someone being inconsistent, we immediately call them out on it, saying things such as: "But earlier you said such and such, now you are contradicting yourself." Children are, of course, inconsistent in their position all the time, constantly changing their minds as it suits their personal needs. Consistency is a characteristic of the mature adult.

Consider for a moment the modern conservative in North America. Europe is somewhat different when it comes to political conservatism since it tends not to muddle the issues of religion and conservatism so much. It is entirely possible to be a popular conservative leader in Europe without having to be a religious wingnut. Just think of Maggie Thatcher. She might have been a wingnut, depending on your political viewpoint, but no one ever accused her of being Britain's version of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. In the United States, and increasingly in Canada since the union of the Progressive Conservative party (a European-style conserative party) with the Reform Party (an American-style religious conservative party), conservatism and religion are inseparable. Religious people in the U.S. generally vote Republican. In Canada, it is very rare to meet a Christian who does not vote for the Conservative Party of Canada. Many of the members of parliament in the Conservative Party in Canada rely on the Christian vote to be elected, and many of them form the basis of their political beliefs and agenda around Christianity.

It is this religious influence that infects the conservative parties in North America with an incredible inconsistency. In order to be a true believer of Christianity demands a fair amount of inconsistency. You must believe that Jesus is the son of God and you must believe that he died and rose from the dead to save humanity from their sins. Almost every Christian must believe those two things. Yet those two beliefs are completely at odds with the world in which we live. There are no documented cases of fatherless (or more specifically sperm-less) fatherhood in humanity. There are no documented cases of people ever coming to life again after being genuinely dead for three days. This inconsistency, bought into by the religious since childhood, infects their mind with an acceptance of inconsistency in the politcal arena. As long as their policial veiws are in line with their version of Christianity, then they consider themselves to be consistent.

Consider you knew nothing whatsoever about the political process and you were being introduced to it by someone else. You might, at some point, ask the differences between liberals and conservatives. In North America you would be told that conservatives are generally pro-life. But then you'd be informed that they are also generally pro-capital punishment. You'd be told that they believe it is acceptable to surgically remove part of a little boy's genitalia at birth and the right of the parents to do so should be legally protected, but you'd also be told that to do the equivalent to a female would be considered abuse and should remain illegal. You'd be told that most conservative voters believe in a religion in which peacemakers are blessed and in which it is important to respect and love other people, but then you'd also be informed that it has been conservative leaders who have started the most atrocious and illegal wars in the past fifteen years. You'd be told about the conservative viewpoint that government should be small, social spending should be limited and reduced, but then you'd be informed that conservative voters don't think the defence budget should ever be cut at all. You'd be informed that conservatives want to reduce government spending, but then you'd be told that in Canada the only government in the past generation to balance a budget has been a liberal one, and in the United States the largest deficits in history have traditionally been under conservative rule.

Many politicians of every stripe demonstrate inconsistency. Politcians, after all, want to be elected. Making statements that help them do so is more important than demonstrating consistency. Liberal politicians might be considered as inconsistent as conservative ones. But when it comes to the voters, conservatives are incredibly inconsistent. Their values and beliefs simply flow along the illogical and bizarre path laid out before them according to the Bible.

1 comment:

  1. These people aren't conservatives. Real conservatives wouldn't use their religion for political gain nor try to promote it in such ways. They would regard it as a private matter. They wouldn't be interested in anyone else's private sexual behaviors either. They aren't conservatives, they are mere reactionaries, and are driven by fear and greed. IMO there are no conservatives.