Liberals, on the other hand, are saddled with a real doozy of a moniker. Ever wonder why "liberal" fell out of favor so fast (Betamax) while "conservative" (VHS) stuck around? Because "liberal" just didn't have the marketing. (Sure, Beta had a better picture but...you can't argue with fate, can you?)
You can just hear it: "Liberal? What the hell does that mean? You have no morals at all, do ya? You don't care what anyone does or who they do it to because, hey, you're 'liberal.' Why, I'll bet there's nuthin' you liberals won't allow, is there? Pinko, commie, tax and spend liberals!"
See how that works?
Here's the thing, though: "conservative" as a personal philosphy and "Conservative" (big "C") as a political ideology are two entirely different things. To illustrate, let's use an example of a person who has been in the news lately- media uber-star Rush Limbaugh.
Now there, ladies and gentlemen, is a Conservative. Can you think of a better touchstone for Conservative principles? I can't. So let's use him.
What- to begin with- does Rush stand for? Well, for one thing, he doesn't like government. Government, you see, is essentially bad. Government is intrusive. It tells you what to do. It's big and unweildy. And, let's not forget, expensive. Also, it has the audacity to make laws that you have to abide (like some schmuck!) instead of letting you snort all the controlled substances you want. Stupid government! Plus, Government gives assistance to people who are out of work, who are hungry, who are...dear God!...in the arts.
Oh, it gets worse. To accomplish this, the Government- are you ready for this?- takes your money. Your hard earned money! It just....takes it! Like a thief! And that, folks, is absolutely horrifying.
You see, like all conservatives, Rush likes his money. He wants to keep it. He'd like to keep pretty near all of it, or at least as much as he can. He certainly doesn't want it spent on anything he doesn't approve of (who does?), but...when you don't approve of Government to begin with, well...then you don't want very much of your money spent on it, do you?
So what have we got so far as a Conservative philosphy? Government= bad. Money=good. Okay, now we're cookin'.
Next? God. Now I know what you're thinking. What the heck does God have to do with politics? "Conservative" just means being smart, moderate and safe. You know- conserving. What does that have to do with religion? Turns out: a lot.
See, if you're a liberal, you clearly don't care about God. His laws mean nothing to you. You, for example, don't think there's anything wrong with gay people. Um, hello! Have you noticed that--- psst!--- they're, like, totally gay. God doesn't like that!
And He doesn't like women having control over their own bodies, either. Didn't you know that? If your uncle molests you or you get raped and- whoops!- it results in your getting pregnant, hey- too bad. Fetuses are people from the moment sperm and egg do the wango-de-tango. It doesn't matter if it was between a loving, married couple or the result of a violent encounter with a sexaul predator. Once you get knocked up, your body is no longer your own. So, ladies, forget about the termination of early pregnancy. The Lord is pretty clear on this point.
So given that those goddamn liberals are polar opposites on these points, where are the religious to turn? No place else to go but the Conservatives! And so they sign up for the GOP Kool Aid. But the religious folks in America, a long while back, got really, really smart about politics. "Heck," they said, "we can do better than simply join the Conservatives! We'll become their base! Yeah! That totally rocks! In a, you know, gospel rock kinda way."
And that's just what they did. They became what we now know as the Religious Right. And folks, these are the guys who really run the whole Conservative show.
So there you have it. The bedrock principles: Government sucks, money is great and God is all powerful and all controlling and woe betide the man who says otherwise.
Take these three principles, mix 'em up good and there's only one ingredient missing to complete our typical Conservative. Can you guess what it is? It isn't easy, so I'll just let you in on it:
Shameless, egocentric, hate-filled, love of one's self. In other words: being a Conservative means being an asshole...and never having to say you're sorry.
Think I'm being simply mean? Or that I'm throwing "asshole" around as if it were a meaningless term? I wish! Listen up, because this is the real thrust of this post:
The real magnet that draws so many people to the Conservative philosophy is- and I'm not joking- the idea that it is completely and totally fine for you to be a total dick.
For example, the environment. The primary philosophy of Conservatives regarding the environment is: who gives a shit? Leave the polluters alone! Don't enact emission restrictions or make compliance mandatory! Why would you handcuff industry like that? When....ahem...did any industry ever make a mess of the environment?
Oh, and another thing: it's fine to ignore science and claim that global climate change is a hoax. Go ahead! It's GOOD to ignore facts! Really! It's FINE.
You want other examples of shameless assholism? Here are a few things the Conservatives believe to their core: First- cut services to the poor. If people are poor, it is their own fault. Yes, people get laid off and their kids get hungry. But not smart people! For God's sake don't feed these dummies or (shudder) give them insurance! Besides, if you give the poor money they'll only spend it on booze. So please- stop helping the poor.
Oh, and feminists are stupid, ugly lesbians. All of them. And human rights for prisoners is for pussies. And unions are only for socialist societies. And the death penalty is hunky-dorey. And foreigners are despicable. (And weird. And often brown. Which is weirder.) And immigrants are destroying the country and should be shot by vigilantes whenever possible.
Some tips for Conservativs: Drive the biggest car you can. Wear fur every day. Laugh at the disadvantaged. View the working class as suckers. Sneer at the powerless. Why not? What are they gonna do? They're powerless!
Taken together, the philosophy of Rush Limbaugh (and, thus, the Conservatives in general) is simply this: Think only of yourself. Nothing matters beyond your own front lawn. The future is non-existent. Today is everything. Today's profits. Today's pleasures. Today's momentary, fleeting rewards.
So what begins as a logical, non-threatening philosophy becomes, when placed in the hands of politicians, the most awesome, evil, frightening force in the history of American politics. For now, yes- they are in disfavor. For now, at least, they are the minority.
Pray that it stays that way.
Oh, wait. I forgot. You're godless liberals aren't you? What the hell do you know about praying?