*Even as the establishment of the United States was a radical idea and the Constitution was an entirely new way of governing, once the country was formed conservative forces once again controlled positions of authority.
Over the course of the country’s history, liberals have been making efforts to have the United States live up to the radical ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the promise of the Constitution. In the last 235 years this has entailed altering voting requirements, expansion of federal power, and incorporating diverse peoples into American society. In essence liberals begin by asking the question “how can American society be improved?”
Conversely conservatives have always been averse to change in American society. Instead of figuring how America can improve and what policies would produce that improvement, time and again conservatives have blocked change based on the question of “how would this change affect me personally?”
Contemporary liberals are those who wish to ensure that American society is not dominated by those in positions of power but rather extending the American dream to all who are possible.
Conservatives today argue for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans even though such a policy by definition cannot benefit a majority of the people. Conservatives today argue against gay marriage even though such a civil liberty for homosexuals would not infringe upon the rights of heterosexuals.
In fact conservatives only support liberal causes when the question of “how would this change affect me personally?” comes into play and the restrictions would negatively affect them: Rush Limbaugh’s position on drug possession laws, or Dick Cheney’s position on gay marriage for example.
The reality is that liberals are sincere about improving American society. Conservatives are sincere about improving, or at the very least maintaining, their position in American society.
The question of political participation is really a question of selfishness or selflessness. Choose wisely.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. You can reach him at [email protected]