Conservatives: A Brake on Human


- by Morgan Southwood

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The strict definition of a conservative is one who holds to traditional methods or views, or a cautious or discreet person. If the good old days were actually good, I'd be more inclined to give traditional conservatives a bit more credit, but they were not, so I can't. Other hallmarks of conservative thinking include pseudo-Christian zealotry and proud neurotic selfishness - myguns, my tax dollars, my standard of living.

Conservatives appear to live in some sort of bizarre alternate reality. It is a world in which poor people are lazy, blacks have had access to the American Dream since the Emancipation Proclamation, Jesus Christ agrees with Pat Robinson, big business would be good to us all if the meddling government would get out of the way, the nation's moral compass was really pointing at true north before the 60s, and guns make people safe instead of killing them. Indeed, it is very strange.

On a more serious note, the lines between progressives and conservatives were drawn in the sand hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Virtually all positive changes made throughout history have been made by liberals of one stripe or another. I say this with no hesitancy at all, it's right there in the history books for anyone to read. Historically, conservatives have fought against the right of women to vote, free public education, child labor laws, freeing the slaves, environmental protection legislation, the 40-hour workweek, social security, and the minimum wage, and civil rights legislation. Today they fight against health coverage for all citizens regardless of their socioeconomic status, the right of women to obtain abortions, and the abolition of the death penalty. And on which side of the political spectrum are the anti-government militia wackos who spawned that great patriot Timmy McVeigh?

While we're discussing this point, could someone please e-mail me a list of great conservatives? I'd love to be edified. On the progressive side, I'm coming up with Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Buddha, Fredrick Douglass, Einstein, Galileo, MLK Jr, and Abe Lincoln, to name just a few. And the only conservative artist of any merit that I can think of is that galloping racist Wagner.

I think that conservatives tend towards ethical bankruptcy. I was hesitant to state it that matter-of-factly until I got an e-mail from one recently which proclaimed, "Yeah, I'm selfish, so what? Altruism is bullshit!" I have no sympathy for that sort of thinking as it has never done humanity one bit of good, and it never will. Altruism and kindness are the greatest of human values, and conservatives seem to be in short supply of them, something I find blackly ironic given their propensity towards Christianity. The religious right seems to forget that Christ himself was executed not just in fulfillment of the scriptures, but by conservative pundits who found his message of love, understanding, and pacifism to be a little too radical for their tastes.

Nobody wins unless we all win, folks. And my fellow progressives need to get aggressive again. We're the people who are going to improve this society. The Right will take us right back to the jungle if we let them do it.

Morgan Southwood is a senior majoring in Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be e-mailed at

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