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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Liberal Conservative or Conservative Liberal?

I had to re-evaluate my political viewpoints this morning when I read that conservative Republicans representing the Tea Party were opposed to making permanent the provisions of the Patriot Act. Can it really be that I agree with something they support? Turns out, many Democrats are in the same boat. Well, I opposed the provisions of the Patriot Act when it was enacted in the first place. I'm not changing because someone I disagree with agrees with me.

When I think back on my life, I wonder how I missed becoming a conservative Midwestern Republican in the first place. In my youth, I remember being gung ho for Eisenhower, and even supporting Barry Goldwater. Of course I was too young to vote, but like most kids my political leanings tended to follow what I heard in my home. I even remember a sickly aunt lying in her bed ranting about how every time a Democrat was in office there was a war and if Kennedy sent her son to war she had a shotgun behind her door and would take care of things herself. I remember that as the first time I identified a difference between my family's political leanings and my own.

My parents were conservative Christians. My mother became the first female Methodist Minister in Indiana. She held her religious convictions above anything else. My father was a blue collar laborer and union man, but strict in his beliefs and discipline. With all our disagreements over the years and various strains on our relationships as I was growing up, I still remember my parents as being kind people who were genuinely concerned about the well-being of everyone. Perhaps being poor contributed to that. We were on the receiving end of charity on more than one occasion. I remember one year when Dad was laid off from Studebaker Corp., we were behind on everything. Our electricity was cut off and we were cooking our meals (of government surplus food) over a campfire in the yard. Suddenly, we had lights. We never found out who paid the electric bill.

And so, acting for the common welfare was ingrained in my psyche from the earliest times. Being concerned for others was the basis of living. And that is what defines me more than the terms liberal or conservative. I grew to disagree with my parents on religion. They grew to agree with me on politics. We were always united on environmental concerns--my mother and I participating on the same side of a debate over creation of the Burns Ditch Harbor.

I have difficulty living up to my own expectations. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. I think that defies the labels of liberal and conservative.