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One Nation under God, Indivisible

Conservativism as point of view, not ideology.

by Everett Wilson
August 12, 2010

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One Nation under God, Indivisible

             I remember when   "conservative" could be used to refer to a point of view; in my mind that was its primary meaning as applied to anything, not limited to politics or religion.  By this definition, a conservative  was one who resisted unnecessary change: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it; if you have to fix it, be economical with both your time and resources, but do the job so that you don't have to do it over." 

            I embrace that definition of conservative.  There may be at least a dozen people in the country who think that is what it means.  For the rest, conservative  refers to a body of political or  theological dogma.  For some of them it is still possible to be a political conservative and a theological liberal (or vice-versa), but  others among them  are looking for the best of all possible worlds, where conservative politics and conservative religion merge in a seamless, though  confused, whole.   When  I read the political reports,   a paraphrase of   Professor Higgins's  conclusion about the French (in My Fair Lady)  comes to mind as a description of  these conservatives:  " They don't care about what they do actually, as long as they Say it Right."
            So let me speak on behalf of that dozen or so of us who still see conservatism as a point of view  not driven by the content  of issues.  Maybe I can double our number with this  column! Granted, we  won't know what to call ourselves.   If we call ourselves conservatives the ideologues (who go all the way back to 1964!) on either side will think we're  either dumb or disingenuous. 
            There was a little history before 1964, however.  I named this column as I did because it seems to express an American consensus that no serious politician will ever challenge.  I acknowledge that consensus,  though "under God" was not added until after I graduated from high school fifty-seven years ago and no longer said the Pledge regularly.    That's enough time to think it over and consent to it. All nations are under God, like it or not.   
            We describe our nation  this way and act  accordingly. We are one nation.  We do what we must as a nation.  The founders knew it  immediately, when they made defense a responsibility of the union.  Their successors solidified it  when new states were formed  in federally owned (or stolen) land. My passport is American, not Nebraskan. There are  political philosophers who believe that the Civil War should never have happened, but it did, and that's the point.  The consequences of it  and many lesser actions constitute our political and economic reality—what is, not what should have been.   
            My kind of conservative works with what is, as efficiently and economically as possible.  It's not a matter of Left and Right (defined at  convenience by  the speaker),  but of needs and resources.  Governors may preach "states' rights" but they still  work with the consensus when they need, as an example, to ask the President to declare a national emergency.  That's what their  people   expect them  to do.  
            In the present situation, through bad governance on local and state levels, public education is going broke. No excuses from anybody, okay?  At the next election,  throw out those responsible for the failure (obviously some more responsible than others)  and   elect people who can explain  to you how mandated  public responsibilities are fulfilled and funded after the campaign.  
            In the meantime, take money from taxpayers in other states, through the federal government, as the President has offered and as you would for hurricane or flood relief, to pay the teachers of your children.  (Did I hear a scream?  "We don't do that for children and public servants, Mr. President!  We do it for  major banks and big employers in our state and district!  You know that, Mr. President!  What are you trying to pull?") 
             I turned off the scream.  What I heard from the President, in this case, was an expression of what it means to be a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.       
 

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Robert McNaughton from Middletown, CT writes:
August 12, 2010
Good column, Everett. And a "liberal" person was large-hearted, forwad thinking, generous, broad-minded. It was Actor/President R.R. who gave it a dirty meaning by calling it "the dreaded L word."

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