A basic difference between liberals and conservatives.

Posted: October 13, 2011 in Current Events, Integral Studies, Media Gleanings, politics

Maybe I’m stating something that everybody else already knows, but I can’t help but shine a light on what I feel is a basic difference between the left (liberals) and the right (conservatives).

We’ve had two major elections this year, so I’ve had a chance to critically compare the various party platforms (when you can find them).  In the recent Ontario election, I compared the PC’s Changebook with the Liberal’s Forward Together. What I noticed right away was the strong inclination for the right to be concerned with immediate problems and quick fixes, while the left seemed to be concerned with a long term view.  You can see this in the issue of crime.  The right wants to build more prisons and toughen the laws while the left is concerned with social services, reducing poverty and rehabilitation.  In the area of energy, the right wants to fix the carbon based economy, while the left wants to invest in alternative energy.  With the issue of climate change, the right is in denial, while the left is looking towards the future.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles from Aljazeera lately, especially regarding the Occupy Wall Street protests.  They are running an excellent series of articles about the current American financial deficit, examining the fabric of American society and politics the way that the OWS protesters are.  In one article about anti-intellectual forces in the U.S. it comments that after 9-11 the right wanted to dive into a retaliatory war (with a country that had not really perpetrated the attack) while the left wanted to consider the causes that may have led to the tragedy, such as some aggressive elements of American foreign policy. Once again you see the right reacting in the present and the left taking the long term view.

The correct attitude is, of course, to consider both.  They are not mutually exclusive, but are perceived as such because of an increasing need for politics to be polarized.  A political party cannot be seen to compromise or to even concede that the opposite party may have a good idea.  Everything has to be black and white, right or wrong.

The other reason is that the right has become dedicated to supporting and advancing the upper class, resulting in an erosion of the middle class.  The term “class warfare” has been bandied about lately both in the U.S. and in Canada.  Taxing the rich or even making some wealthy companies actually pay any taxes, has resulted in companies taking their funds out of America and transferring them to other countries.  In doing so they have declared their own unashamed greed and clearly shown a lack of social conscience or national patriotism.  The first, social conscience, is something that the right doesn’t claim to have anyways, but you would expect patriotism.  The right was largely responsible for the deregulation under Regan, which led to our current financial circus.  Once again, the long term implications were ignored.  Greenspan is quoted as saying that he’d assumed the financial institutions would consider their own long term survival rather than short term gains, and he acknowledges that he was wrong.

While it is necessary to deal with issues in the present, our current problems are complex and demand long term planning and goals.  Many of those goals are just impossible to accomplish in the short term.  I’m really encouraged by the provincial Liberal platform supporting education and alternative energy.  These are worthy long term goals.  That doesn’t mean that they’ll do it right.  Long term goals are actually harder to manage, requiring more investment, patience and intelligence.  But that’s why politicians need to be accountable.


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