Monday, March 19, 2012

When is a conservative not a conservative?

David Seaton's News Links
At a Tea Party rally in Troy, Michigan, the GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum said this: "President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!" To rapturous applause, Santorum went on: "There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate him." And then, the kicker: "I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image." The audience, mostly older folks in working-class garb, laughed with Santorum. Rolling Stone

The decline in marriage rates has been steepest for the least educated, especially men, and smallest for college graduates, especially women. College graduates, the highest earners, are more likely today to be married than are Americans with less education — 69% for adults with a college degree versus 56% for those who are not a college graduate. Pew Research Center

Several studies suggest that while college-educated dual-earner families have high marital quality, lower-income dual-earner couples have been experiencing heightened marital distress. Infidelity, drug abuse, depression, and domestic violence can happen anywhere, but they are especially common among couples facing economic distress. More than two-thirds of the low-income mothers studied by Duke University's Linda Burton and her research team, for example, had been victims of serious domestic violence and sexual abuse.(...) Strengthening people's economic prospects and developing more living-wage jobs is essential to reducing the economic instability that exacerbates relationship problems, and doing that would probably increase marriage rates among low-income and low-education individuals. Stephanie Coontz
One of the most disturbing things about America is the incoherence of American language, the endless euphemism-laden double talk. American terminology is confusing and perhaps the confusion is deliberate. 
Examples? There are many.
For example, everywhere but in the USA, "red" is the color of the left, but in America, the term, "red state", means one that is right-wing and "blue", which is a color that in most countries is associated with the right, to ultra-right, in the US is used to label what Americans call "liberal", which in the USA means the left, but which everywhere else is used to label the economic right-wing... These examples are just the tip of a semantic iceberg.
This brings us to the word, "conservative".
Like most conservatives the world over, American conservatives are very strong in the defense of "family values": marriage, two-parent families, with mothers as care-givers, "standing by their man". For a traditional conservative the family is the core of all social relations, the keystone of individual and national life.
However, as we can see from the snippets that top this page, there is a powerful contradiction between low taxes for the rich, deregulated globalization and the possibility for people with only high school education, or less, to raise children in a stable environment... even with both parents working at two jobs... if they can find work.
To give just one small example: such measures as the deregulation of store-opening hours, where many parents, single parents or married couples, gay or straight,  have to work late into the night or on weekends, even Sundays, leaving many children alone after school or in their free time, with no one to help them with their homework, cook them a hot meal or give them a cuddle when they are sad, tuck them at bedtime and listen to their prayers or instill "values" conservative or otherwise in them. And this is not a minority we are talking about, for as Thomas Geoghegan wrote in The Nation, "only 27 percent of adults have a bachelor's degree, and there are not enough jobs for them".
So, obviously it is our ├╝ber-capitalist economy, the one American conservatives wish to further deregulate, that is literally destroying the American family, not gay marriage or abortion.
Again, this toxic mixture of social intolerance and destructive deregulation is not a universal "conservative" phenomenon. In Germany,  both the German Catholic and Protestant churches join with the labor unions to keep most businesses closed on most evenings and shut totally on Sundays. Progressives and traditional conservatives overlap harmoniously on this issue there. 
At bottom America's biggest problem is that it doesn't make sense anymore. DS

1 comment:

oldfatherwilliam said...

"Regressives" has a nice smack to it, at least on my lips.