On the Issues: Conservatives vs. Progressives


You have heard it said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” These words, expressed by Founding Father Thomas Paine, initially referred to our nation in its Revolutionary War crisis. Even today, this statement is apt regarding our current political situation. Some two hundred and fifty years after Paine’s statement, the United States is again in crisis. We are immersed in a panoply of problems, but this time of our own making. (Click on the title above to continue if necessary.)


With the close of 2023 and the start of 2024, I kept thinking about the year gone by and the year ahead. I had my thoughts on these topics only partially prepared when l wrote my last On the Issues column because we are dealing with a humongous problem. It is such a vital topic that it took me longer than the holiday period allowed me to reach my conclusions. Please abide with me now while I share my thoughts on this critical concern.


Anyone with a sense of moral decency has to view our society with growing alarm. As a nation, we are increasingly politically polarized because the new Democrat party has lined up in battle against traditional Republicans. The new Democrat party – the Democrat party of today – is not the Democrat party of old, of my parents, of John Kennedy, and what many Democrats think it is. No, the Democrat party of days gone by is no more.


Over the years, I have had discussions with former Democrats who have said to me in the inimitable words of Republican Ronald Reagan, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party; the party left me.” That is true because progressives have taken over the former liberal Democrat party, leaving many former Democrats to claim the Independent, Libertarian, or even Republican moniker or lose interest in politics altogether.


Traditional Democrats will share conservative revulsion against the elitism and secularism of today’s progressive Democrat party. Thinking liberals will stand against its rapid expansion of the heresies against orthodoxy, against the social and political abominations of egalitarianism and personal relativism, against the mounting assaults on the family and the rule of law, and in support of the growing social disorder that is spreading across this nation like a plague.  


True liberals – traditional Democrats – share Republican alarm against the perverse doctrines of enlightenment and fanaticism of progressives that often stand in direct opposition to conventional Judeo-Christian morés. True liberals have more in common with conservatives than they think. I say “true liberals” because liberals are moderates, not radicals. They share our fears for the fate of our children and Western civilization.


Many of the values held by conservatives today were once the liberal views of the past. In the early 19th century, liberalism meant maximizing individual liberty – particularly economic liberty. Around the time of Roosevelt’s New Deal, liberalism began to mean using the Federal government’s power to promote public welfare at supposed government largess (it’s actually the taxpayers who foot the bill). Rugged individualism was out, only to be replaced by dependence on government programs.  


Despite such detrimental changes, the United States has withstood every test of political governance for nearly 250 years now. Conservatives, aware of this good, are anxious to preserve those aspects of governance instilled by the Founding Fathers who provided us with this good.


Conservatives don’t necessarily oppose change; they merely take a cautious approach to changes that might have pernicious effects. They are realists rather than idealists. They are among the first to call out problems when they see them. They follow natural law and judge the worth of various actions by their consequences. They are influenced more by facts than emotions.


The most successful and secure members of a society are indeed the ones most likely to be conservatives. Still, conservatism is not merely a defense of privilege by the privileged. It’s much more than that. Conservatives embrace those elements of society that have proven to benefit society. Because society has recently changed so much, we only appear to cling to the past as we work to preserve, protect, and defend all we perceive as good.


On the opposite end of the political spectrum from conservatives are progressives – not liberals. Progressives are skeptical of traditional beliefs and values and are more secular, if not altogether atheistic. They are doing their best to promote society at the cost of individual liberties, not with revolutions propelled by guns and armies, but with elections, the results of which have begun to change the social order. They offer promises of utopia and spread the poison of hatred.


They spread the lie that the rich are living large at the expense of the poor. They promote victimization to antagonize and separate the people and set them against one another. Progressives promote the idea that conservatives and traditional liberals are ignorant, biased, bigoted, and narrowly self-interested individuals – blind to the needs of society and the wider world. This has led to growing political polarization among the American populace, many of whom know better. 


True liberals might be said to occupy the position of moderates in the political spectrum, and many today would consider themselves independents, having been rejected by members of the radical Democrat party as being too conservative and not a member of the progressive groupthink. Today’s true liberals are much more closely related intellectually to conservatives than they are to today’s Democrat party.


I encourage political moderates to consider massive problems caused and promoted by today’s radical Democrat party: profligate spending, government overregulation, unregulated immigration, intrusion in the school classroom, identity politics, support for radical social movements, weaponization of government agencies, tolerance of crime and criminals, demonization of political rivals, radical promotion of abortion at every level and public expense, intrusive healthcare mandates associated with COVID-19, unconstitutional gun control, radical environmental policies, weak and ineffective foreign policy, violation of free speech and religious rights, and so on. Do you support these misguided efforts? As a moderate, it's not likely.


Further, I encourage you to identify the root cause of this massive theological, philosophical, social, and political offensive against traditional moral values and the good of social order. What powers these radical revisions in American society and societies worldwide? Why does one party consider what was once good now bad? Why is this one party the source of so many contemporary problems? What causes this same party to wear the “Party of Death” label? Why does this one party promote intolerance and hate? Why does this one party constantly demonize the leaders of the other? These are all symptoms of things nefarious.


I urge you, if you are a moderate Democrat, a true liberal, an Independent, or a Libertarian, to consider voting for conservatives in the coming elections. That is, vote in support of your values and avoid the knee-jerk reaction of voting Democrat because that is what you have always done. Rely on your intellect rather than your nostalgic emotions for a party that once was but is no more.



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