My good friend and co-author Steve Love provided the basis for this column. I have paraphrased him for brevity:
Conservatives used to label liberals as pointy-headed idealists totally out of touch with reality. Conservatives claimed they, as the adults, dealt with how things really are while liberals were the adolescents lost in idealism. Conservatives claimed pragmatism while labeling liberals as ideologues.
Now, it is the conservatives, the radical no-compromise political faction that takes its orders from free-market economists in their academic/think-tank ivory towers. They promote some ideal world that only exists in their imaginations or historical revisionism. They are Adam Smith economists of the 18th century.
They talk about being faithful to the Founding Fathers’ ideals but are oblivious to the exclusion of women’s suffrage and the horror of slavery. They overlook the fact the founders excluded provisions in the Constitution only to have to amend it with the Bill of Rights and several others.
People wonder why this Congress is at loggerheads with President Barack Obama. Conservatives want to construct their particular ideal society with limited reproductive rights for women, no taxes, no immigrants, little government, limited voting, a meritocracy, total individual freedom and laissez-fair capitalism — a libertarian nirvana. Liberals will settle for a strong and vibrant middle class in a society that includes sufficient regulation that prevents abuse of rights, the economy and the environment.
The political arena is deadlocked. Conservative thinking results in people with a self-identity based on centralized dogma, not reality. Conservatives ask us to believe what they tell us, not what we can learn on our own.
They listen to what libertarians, talk-show entertainers and think-tank talking heads say what the world must be like and close their minds to history. They argue that cutting taxes and government spending is how jobs get created while ignoring history from the 1930s and ’40s; the time when we came closest to full employment. It was the result of high taxes and massive government spending on the New Deal agencies and the war effort. These experts claim we recovered from the Great Depression, not because of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, but because of World War II, as though the high taxes and massive government spending of the war economy was different from that of the years preceding and following it.
The person who said politics is the art of the possible was not a conservative, he was a liberal. The obstructionist, filibustering conservatives in Congress are the reason lawmakers cannot address or solve the real problems of the country.
The solution is the ballot box. If we are to make progress, the people cannot keep electing backward-thinking ideologues who are owned by selfish big money interests.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.