Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moral Failings of Conservative Priorities

"There is a fundamental problem here, one that can't be elided by pointing out the differences between "true" conservatism and Republicans. A bias toward time-tested, societal institutions almost necessarily means a bias toward institutional evil. Likewise, a skepticism of change almost necessarily means a skepticism of those who seek to expand democracy beyond property-owning white men. Taken in sum you have an ideology, whatever its laudable merits, that will almost always, necessarily, look charitably upon those with power, or those who control the institutions, and skeptically upon those without power, or those who seek to change those institutions." Ta-Nehisi Coates on his web blog hosted at The Atlantic

Coates is definitely on to something even if he overstates the case against tradition with his "almost necessarily" statement. The conservatives' reverence for tradition, religious beliefs, and the social order does lead them to some morally callous political solution. I cannot understand how any conservative could accept the states' right position on abortion, for example, and simultaneously believe that the procedure is an act of murder. If abortion is murder, the state has no choice but to outlaw the procedure and prosecute violators to the fullest extent that the law would permit (even if that involves life in prison for the mother and the abortionist. Yet many conservatives hold to both principles simultaneously and then tell us they won't put the woman who is seeking an abortion behind bars even though they have all but accused her of being a murderer.

Chris Crain said as much on his blog a month ago:

"Beyond the power politics of it, I also cannot help but judge the conservative movement by its followers, not to mention its leaders, and to conclude there is something fundamentally wrong with their philosophy, their judgment, and their movement if they are so committed to opposing my equality, or cynically ally with those who are.

It is an inescapable indictment of the conservative philosophy or temperament that so many who are so wrong on our issues find a home in that movement and ascend to power within it. David Boaz was dead-on to call conservatives out for being on the wrong side of pretty much every civil rights movement in U.S. history, only embracing the principle of equality and justice after the dust settles in that particular battle. "

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