Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Conservative, With A Conscience

Welcome to Bedford, Indiana. Smack in the middle of southern Indiana,this “city” of 13,000-plus is where I was born and raised. When the state went blue for the first time since LBJ, the McCain camp pulled around 65 percent of the vote here. Calling it a conservative stronghold is quite the understatement, the county is blood red. It’s got problems. The automobile industry has nearly packed up and left town, jobs are currently few and far between, and teen pregnancy rates are too high. Having said all that, I love this place.

I had a fortunate upbringing in this middle-class town, we were financially secure. Money was never an issue. My father is a self-made man that still works twelve hour days at the office, making sure every facet of the corporation is running smoothly. The man grew up with three brothers and sisters and next to nothing except a strong sense of family. I got lucky, and many, including my own father and best friend, simply weren’t as fortunate. I don’t lose sight of that.

Between he and my mother, a perfectionist and class valedictorian that spent years in the healthcare field, I watched hard work evolve into reward through the capitalist system. I was brought up through a highly conservative church, some of my best friends from back home are NRA members, and, frankly, those proposed tax cuts by the current administration do affect my family.

Yes, I am a conservative. That doesn’t mean I take everything from Michael Steele as divine word.

I get it, I understand. I’m a conservative, with a conscience.

For quite some time, I struggled with the recent Healthcare legislation. I tried for weeks to convince myself of traditional conservative viewpoints on the issue. I have nightmares about increased government spending and larger government. A tax hike among the wealthy does affect my family. On the surface, it’s a bit repulsive.

I’m self-actualizing. I can’t argue against providing a child with no health insurance a trip to the doctor. I can’t argue against a mother of four, recently diagnosed with cancer, having assistance with her medical bills, no matter the price. Simply put, I am pro-life. Knowing that, how can I clamor in the following breath about healthcare not being a right?

Every American should have the right to healthcare. Not 99%. Every. Single. One. Rather than demand this legislation be repealed, as conservatives, why not work your tail off to find a way to achieve 100% coverage through the private sector. I have no idea how to accomplish this, I’m a college student, not a staffer. If it were my full-time job, like one Michael Steele, I’d be searching up and down across the nation for the answer.

Until I have that answer, I have no argument against the current legislation. You can’t proclaim to repeal a bill without a viable alternative. We have nothing at the moment, and, like it or not, the left has us in check-mate. Good luck winning a 51-percent majority on taking doctors away from underprivileged children. It’s possible, but it’s an excellent way to grow the social and political schism in the nation.

That schism merits its own discussion. There’s an editorial that ran in the Kansas City Star about 10 days ago that hits the nail on the head. Our nation is growing apart. Sample this from a post a few weeks back on the initial reaction to the Healthcare bill:

“The downfall of this nation will not be Obama-care (could it contribute fiscally, possibly), but the growing schism in the nation. Many on the right are concerned with the slippery-slope to socialism. (Is POTUS a socialist? I doubt it. Does he have policies that alter the capitalist economy? Yes. Until he proclaims himself a socialist in actions or words, I’ll believe he is not.) I point to the slippery-slope to civil war and violent unrest. Personally, Pelosi pulls on emotion too much, as does Rush and Coulter. Bottom line: Government is a business, and leave it at the office.”

Slippery-slope to civil war and violent unrest? Is that likely? Probably not. Possible? Very. I’m hopeful that it won’t take a worst-case scenario to enlighten the majority of the public that we’ve got a problem on our hands. Let’s take the hate out of politics and work across party lines to accomplish something. Let’s work together, in peace, to move forward, rather than impeding the progress of either party and simply remain in the mired muck that is our nation today.

Guys like Richard Behney don’t get it, and are the reason I’m repulsed by the Tea Party. We hold some congruent views, but statements as he made in a recent public appearance campaigning for the Indiana Senate seat, as Austin Rovenstine from the Wabash Conservative Union points out, make a mockery of your party on a national level.

You know, there’s two facts about our country. One is, we are a nation of immigrants. That’s what makes us great. All different races, colors, cultures. We’re also a Republic of laws. And we live by the law. You know, if you come to my house, and the front light is on — the porch light’s on — you’re welcome. Come knock on the front door, open up, come on in. If I catch you climbing through the back window, in my house, I’m likely to, uh…we don’t need another YouTube moment but…you know, I don’t know what’s going on. You know, and while you’re in my house, I ask that you live by my house rules. And I would like that you speak English, thank you very much. I’m going to treat it like my house, folks. You know… you’re welcome to come in my front door anytime…but if I find you climbing in the back window, you’re likely to get shot. And if you hurt one of my kids, I am going to shoot you. And by the way, when you’re in my house, I expect you to obey the house rules and speak English.”

That comment amounts to a juicy steak for those on the left. It’s called leaving yourself open for criticism. You don’t want to be called a racist, a radical? Don’t talk like one, don’t act like one. Like I said before, good luck winning elections making statements as this. Our party needs a makeover, and not the one led by the current group.

The left has its’ youth movement, and our time has come to answer that call on the right. Washington isn’t listening. Why must we be the party of the rich? Why must we be the party of the silver spoon? Our fiscally and socially conservative values can and will exist, but we cannot continue to alienate the less fortunate, the socially conscious, the environmentalists. We must be a party of understanding, a group willing to work with our opponents from the opposite side to achieve the best outcome for our constituents? Why must those who vow the reach across the aisle be labeled as any “less conservative” by our own party? Stubborn and conservative should not be synonyms. Guys like Austin Rovenstine at the WCU get this. I get this. We can no longer turn our backs upon the less privileged members of our society. If you haven’t noticed, it isn’t working. We must work through the private sector to provide all the amenities the government can currently provide those who cannot support themselves.

Frankly, I don’t have the answers on how to accomplish those feats. You’ll hear from me the day I develop a plan for our nation. I’ll be announcing my candidacy for office and leading the new batch of conservatives to guide our nation into the future, a batch aren’t afraid to call one from across the aisle a great friend and work with them to move the greatest country on the planet forward.But, we’ll still be true conservatives.

Conservatives that have an understanding of both sides.

Conservatives that can unite a nation.

Conservatives that care.