In my first essay on this subject, the “Difference between Conservatives and Liberals, Part I: Social Issues, I explored the basic personal believe systems of these two groups and my opinions on the type of people who adopt these beliefs. I thought that this scope was plenty extensive enough for one reading. What I didn’t get into was how these beliefs affect the political stances of conservatives and liberals and how they would like see our government involved (or not involved) in a current issues.
I’m afraid I wasn’t very kind in describing the personal beliefs of conservatives in Part I of this series. I depicted them as self centered individuals who have little inclination for helping those less fortunate then themselves. I also pictured them as having little tolerance for those different from themselves and arrogant enough to think that their personal and religious beliefs should be imposed on others. I also pointed out that they have a strong tendency to take a negative view of any new scientific discoveries which might call into question the validity of their long held beliefs. I could in a similar manner recap the characteristics of liberals, but it is just easier to say that they are quite the opposite.
However, I think the true test of these descriptions of conservatives and liberals is how they seek to put their beliefs into action on the political stage, so let’s look there stances on a range of current political issues.
Same sex marriage:
Liberals tend to be in favor changing the laws which would allow same sex marriage, while conservatives are usually opposed. This is a double whammy issue for conservatives because it plays into two of their characteristics – intolerance of those different from themselves and their certainty that their religious beliefs are the only correct ones. It is therefore natural for them to think that this gives them right to impose those beliefs on others. This is often called legislating morality and it really just imposing one group’s sense of morality on another portion of the population. Liberals usually are in favor of allowing gay men and women to have the same rights and privileges as anyone else because they are tolerant of others and have no compulsion to impose their beliefs on others.
One of the most ridiculous things I have heard is conservatives attempting to gain the verbal high ground by saying that they are “defending traditional marriage”. No one is attacking traditional marriage; no one is trying to prevent a man and woman from marrying or taking away any of the rights and privileges gained thereby. If conservatives truly wanted to defend marriage they would be more concerned about divorce then whether other people are also seeing the right to marry.
Let’s look at this issue from the perspective of fairness and the rights provided to each of us by the constitution. If two people, regardless of the sexes, are willing to legally devote themselves to each other in order to gain the all of the rights and accept all of the responsibilities of marriage, why should we allow laws which limit that right to only certain individuals because of their sexes. Isn’t that sexual discrimination and doesn’t violate the equal protection clauses of the constitution? How arrogant does a group of people have to be to attempt to use the power of the government to impose their intolerance and religious beliefs on others?
Universal Heath Care:
Conservative politicians like to brag that the United States has the best health care in the world. That might be true for those wealthy enough to afford the very best healthcare the country has to offer. However, when our healthcare system is evaluated country wide, that statement is nothing but a huge lie.
The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing healthcare systems worldwide, studied the healthcare systems of 11 countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States – the U.S. ranked last, as it did in all past editions of the study. According to foundation, “U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than of the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity.” According to the World Health Organization the U.S has the 37th best health care system in the world right behind Chili, Denmark, Dominica, and Costa Rica and right ahead of Slovenia, Cuba and Burnei.
Yet the U.S system is the also the most expensive health care system in the world spending 50% more per person than 2nd place Norway and 49% more in terms of percent of GDP spent on healthcare than second place Germany. Therefore US healthcare consumers are getting the worst possible bang for their bucks.
The most frequently given reasons cited in recent studies as we why fall behind so many countries is because they have all have universal health care. Even with the Affordable Health Care Act we are just starting down that road. The logic is simple – in countries with universal health care the level of care is relatively flat with the poor getting almost the same level of care as the rich. In our country, the poor who cannot afford insurance often receive inadequate care.
So called Obamacare has been a huge success. The percentage of uninsured Americans has drop 4.2% since the initiation of the AHCA to the lowest level ever recorded with further and significant additional drops are predicted for the coming year. Yet at last count Republican conservatives in the US House of Representatives have voted to abolish the AHCA 54 times. Some of their reasoning has to do with economic conservative economic principles (which I will discuss in a later article), but one of the main reasons Republican politicians hate Obamacare is because of their social conservative stances. Their main concern is that under the AHCA the very poorest Americans receive subsidies to make their insurance coverage affordable.
This runs against the social conservative narrative that if people are poor it is there own fault because they are just not motivated enough to fight their way up to the economic ladder. That goes hand and hand with their notion that when the government aids the poor it not only uses their tax dollars, it also makes the poor more dependent on government assistance and less willing to work for their money. While this flies in the face of the fact that most of the poor work far harder for far less money than affluent folks, it remains a useful rationalization for social conservatives to justify why they are only concerned about their own welfare and criminally indifferent to the condition of their fellow human beings.
The social conservatives continue to hold these views despite growing evidence the lack of universal care coverage makes our healthcare system very inefficient and expensive. When the uninsured have medical problems they are often unable to afford to a visit to a doctors office so they go to hospital emergency rooms they know they will get treatment despite their inability to pay. This not only over crowds our emergency rooms with non emergency patients, increasing the wait for those with real emergencies, but using emergency rooms provide non emergency care is the least efficient and most costly method of treatment.
In addition, since the uninsured cannot afford preventive medicine, when they are diagnosed with \medical problems their conditions are usably worse and more costly to treat than they should be. Then when the uninsured are admitted to a hospital, they are usually unable to pay. Hospitals cannot absorb all these extra costs from over use of their emergency rooms and non paying patients in their hospital beds so they pass those extra costs on to those of us who can pay which in turns raises our insurance rates. The Congressman Budge Office has determined that is cheaper for the rest of us to subsidize the insurance of those who otherwise could not afford it with our tax dollars than it is fro us to pay extra for our insurance because of the inefficiencies imbedded in our present medical care system.
Yet against all logic conservatives are determined to keep the US one of the only advanced counties in the world without universal health care because they simply don’t want the government involved in medical care and because of their callus indifference towards those who are not as fortunate as themselves.
You wouldn’t normally think the prospects of the earth’s atmosphere heating up a few degrees would be such a big deal until you contemplate the possible consequences. If climate scientists are right, rising sea levels will flood coastal areas. The continental United States has 86,112 miles of shore line and 39% of the nation’s population, or over 128 million people, live in counties bordering the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. That portion of the population is expected to increase by 4% by 2020. Of course many of our country’s most largest and important cities are built right on the water’s edge. World wide, it is estimated that 40% of the earth’s population of more than seven billion people live in coastal areas.
Hurricane and typhoons are fueled by warm water so more numerous and more powerful storms would add to the destruction of coastal areas caused by rising sea levels. The energy in the warmer air could also easily cause more frequent and more violent land based storms like tornadoes. In addition to stronger and more frequent storms, climate scientist also are predicting that the climates of large areas of the earth will also change turning some the worlds best crop land into deserts.
Global warming started out as just a new theory over a hundred years ago. Just as they would deal with any new theory, scientist have collected data on the current climate situation and historical evidence from other global warmings from the earth’s distant past and then tested the theory against that data. The evidence is so clear that presently 99% of the world’ climate scientist believe that the earth is warming at a rate much higher than it has ever experienced before. They also believe the warming is caused by man’s activity and that we will experience its consequences. The only issues still being discussed by these scientists are how quickly we will experience the consequences of global warming if we do nothing and whether it can still be prevented if we act decisively enough.
Now given the serious consequence in store for us as a result of climate change, you think that everyone would be clamoring to take corrective action, but that is far from the case. In fact a large percentage of conservatives in country deny that global warming is even occurring. Their problem is that if they admit that the earth is warming they would also be admitting that scientist are correct about the cause of that warming – man’s activity, specifically the continual addition of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the earths atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. That in turn plays right into another battle which liberals and conservatives have been waging with each other for many years – the battle over pollution.
The problem is that conservatives are not only relatively unconcerned about those who are not fortunate than themselves, they are also not terribly concerned about the plight future generations. There is a lot of money to be made by burning coal and oil products for energy and the mining, drilling, power and transportation industries produce a lot of jobs. Deep down conservatives are unwilling forgo some of that wealth for the sake of those who will one day inherit the earth. They are also unwilling to make the investments that are necessary to develop alternate energy sources. So, rather than face the global warming issue head on, they find it more convenient to deny that the problem exists.
However, this has always been characteristic of conservatives down through the ages. Whenever new scientific discoveries threatened their beliefs, power, or wealth, establishment conservatives went into denial mode. When the theories and discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo challenged church teachings which held that man was God’s greatest creation and earth, was the center of the universe, those in power banned their writings. They went on to charge Galileo with heresy; he remained under house arrest for the rest of his life. Then when the discoveries of Darwin seemed to challenge the literal interpretation of the bible, his theory of evolution was not only denied and attacked, it was also repressed. Even today, when evolution is considered scientific fact by most scientists, conservative politicians are still trying to find ways to keep it from being taught in public schools.
So it is little wonder that when issue of global warming is discussed, the normal reaction of conservatives is to deny, deny, deny…… When any new scientific discovery proves to be “inconvenient”, it’s what they do.
Now we could dissect any current issue over which conservatives and liberals clash and we would find the same characteristics driving the two groups. Conservatives tend to be far more concerned about themselves and their prosperity than those who are less fortunate than themselves or future generations. They also tend to be very sure of their belief systems, often to the point where they seek to impose their beliefs on others. Conservatives also tend to deny any new scientific discovery which challenges their belief, their power, or their ability to make as much money as possible. How should we describe liberals – that’s easy, they arte just the opposite of conservatives.