The UnAmerican Nature of Conservatism
So, to steal a turn of phrase from Thomas Frank, what's the matter with conservatism? Everything. Conservatism, at it's core, is the death of the American dream. Conservatism does not believe that everyone should, or can, have the opportunity to improve their lot in the world, and in doing so, leave their children a little better off than they were. Conservatism rejects the idea of community and rejoices in the unattached, uninhibited, unemotional rational actor. Conservatism sees the state of your bank account as the ultimate measure of happiness and the determining factor of "success" in this world. Conservatism rejects the idea of any public good, hiding behind the facade of the free market and a distorted view of Adam Smith's economic theory. Conservatism tells the American public to forget "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," and "ask what you can do for yourself." Conservatism distorts the definition of liberty to mean the "freedom to exploit all others in a race toward the golden calf of profit margin," no matter the costs that cannot be calculated in accounting sheets. And, perhaps most important, Conservatism rejects the golden rule, to do unto others as you have them do unto you.
Many who call themselves conservatives would cringe if asked to join up with a lot that espoused such positions. Unfortunately, the Conservative Movement realized this from day 1, and has unceasingly worked to set the terms of the debate in their favor. But the terms of any debate are malleable, and progressives must work to shift them in our favor. In doing so, we must not attack all "conservatives," but rather Conservatism and the Conservative Movement. Exposing the ugly underbelly of Conservatism is the first step in developing a progressive governing majority for the 21st century. The choice is a clear one, it is our job to make sure we define it ... day in and day out.