Friday’s example of the ugly side of liberalism reminded me of why I am a conservative and not a liberal.
There are two necessary parts to succeed in anything. There is the internal element and the external element. The internal element involves the personality traits necessary to succeed. The personality traits that help you stay up late at night when necessary to pass a certain test, the personality traits that teach you a good work ethic necessary to survive and move ahead in any field, and the side that pushes you to keep going and overcome obstacles when they arise. But than there is also the external element. One could work as hard as one can, and have all the personality traits necessary to succeed, but if there are no opportunities because of your race, or if your financial circumstances limits your options, you are also limited in how far you can go economically.
In my opinion, liberals seem to focus on the external forces involved in getting minorities out of the ghetto. They will push for affirmative action, they will push to get more government money for student loans, they will fight to make college cheaper, they will create minority business networks to help promote minority-based businesses. They will put a strong emphasis on the racial barriers to minorities prosperity.
Liberals will also push for social programs that they think will help minorities and depend on the government to implement those programs. They also tend to promote increased government funding of those social programs as the way to solve minority problems.
In other words, liberals’ focus is on the external factors and using the government to implement solutions.
Conservatives, on the other hand, will address the internal factors more. They will stress hard work and dedication, personal responsibility and the need to learn the tools necessary to succeed in life. Conservatives will advocate for crime laws that remove criminals off the streets; they will encourage and assist faith based initiatives that give inner city Churches the tools necessary to solve the economic and cultural problems from the inside. They promote solutions that encourage couples to stay married and help reduce out of wedlock births.
Conservatives will also push for programs that don’t compromise the above beliefs. Conservatives will emphasize free market solutions to the problem of minorities, and tend to shy away from government solutions. They will push for the privatization of social security, thereby giving those who choose to use them the opportunity to take control of their own economic destiny. They will push for non-race specific solutions that will help minority businesses succeed. Things like tax breaks for small business, a reduction in regulations that hamper business growth. Last, but certainly not least, conservatives will push for a free-market solution to tackle the failing problems of our public schools. They will push for vouchers, a solution that gives parents of children in failing schools the economic choice necessary to send their kids to the school of their choice, this in turn indirectly puts much needed pressure on schools to succeed.
In other words, conservatives focus on internal forces and tend to rely on free-market, non-government methods to implement their solutions.
I am not saying that these are mutually exclusive lines, or that supporting one political philosophy implies you don’t support the solutions of the other political philosophy. My point here is to show the difference in emphasis, not in specific applications.
After reading this, one will naturally ask the obvious question, which side is better? If one’s ultimate goal is to get minorities out of the ghetto and towards a prosperous living, which side is better at doing it? I would answer that it depends more on the circumstances of the time than anything else.
To succeed you need both elements. You need the internal and the external. If any one is lacking, you will not be able to succeed.
So both the conservative and the liberal emphasis are necessary. However, I think that depending on the circumstances of the time, one should be emphasized over the other. I agree that there was a time when combating racism was necessary and perhaps affirmative action was needed back then. The country certainly needed to be made aware of the fact that many minorities were not succeeding because of the external limitations imposed on them. But I believe that a lot has changed since then. Racism and the external limitations on minorities are, for the most part, a thing of the past. I am not saying that racism has ceased to exist, only that it doesn’t have the power that it did before. There isn’t enough racism to stop you from succeeding in life. In addition, there is more than enough college funding going around than most people are aware of. Nowadays, there are so many options available to poor people wanting to go to college and there aren’t enough people taking advantage of that. I know a Hispanic female friend of mine that grew up living in a trailer, when she finished high school she won a grant from the Bill Gates foundation that completely paid for her education at USC. The grant paid for her books, education tuition, and gave her money for rent, a computer and transportation. Could you have imagined anything close to that 30 years ago?
I am not arguing that more progress shouldn’t be made with regards to external factors (although I’d disagree with how liberals go about it), but rather that the focus needs to be on internal factors.
Today, the primary problems limiting minorities from getting out of the ghetto are not racial, they are not financial, they are cultural. When you have a high percentage of minorities growing up in single family homes, or a high crime area that hampers economic innovation, or a culture that frowns on academic success, or a public school system that doesn’t give minorities the resources necessary to succeed, the primary problems have ceased to be external, and are now internal.
So not only do I believe that the emphasis should be on the internal, but I believe liberals have drifted so far to the external that they have started to hurt minorities.
Liberals’ overemphasis on race leads them to be over sensitive on that issue. I have a very liberal Hispanic friend that I was discussing the problem concerning the lack of Hispanics in the sciences, something that is of particular concern to me. And it was like pulling teeth to get her to even admit there is a problem, as if my bringing it up was the result of some racism on my part. I could only imagine what her response would have been if I had been a white person, as opposed to Hispanic. Many times, if you talk to a liberal minority and you happen to be white, many of them will not even listen to what you have to say, simply because you are white or don’t have the same poverty upbringing that they have. In addition, liberals have become so sensitive on racial issues that it becomes very difficult to even talk about cultural problems without the fear of being branded a racist.
In addition, liberals’ overemphasis on race issues leads them to be very divisive – emphasizing the difference among Americans instead of the similarities. For example, Mexican-American minorities will quibble endlessly about the proper term that defines us, is it Latino? Is it Hispanic? Or, is it even Chicano? Some take this argument so seriously that they have publically stated that they will not even view or address my solution to failing public schools (vouchers) because I have decided to call myself Hispanic. When your ideology drives you to stress the importance of whether to call yourself a Hispanic over the problem of failing schools, I think it’s fair to say you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
Furthermore, contrary to common belief among liberals, social programs don’t have the wonderful track record that liberals seem to think they do. Some argue that using the government to promote social programs only divides and actually makes matters worse.
Than there is the belief that social programs when done through government do not come free. They have trade offs like everything else in economics. The bigger you make government, the more you tax citizens, the less efficient the economy runs, and the less economic mobility is available to those at the bottom.
Maybe I am lucky to have entered politics at such a young age. To have entered politics without experiencing the civil rights era of the 1960’s and 70’s. To have only read about the great Martin Luther King Jr, the great civil rights fighters of that time instead of going through the struggles with them. Maybe the lack of personal experience in that area has allowed me to enter politics with no historical bias, only judging what I see now.
To the liberals out there reading this, I only have one thing to say. You can disagree with my conclusion, you can critique my beliefs, and you can certainly offer differing solutions. All of that is open to and should be debated. But do not question my sincerity or my devotion to my fellow minorities in the ghetto. Simply because someone doesn’t agree with your solutions, doesn’t mean they don’t care for minorities and don’t wish them the best as well. It is time we move past all the rhetoric and start talking about what does or doesn’t work.