David's diary Cato Echoes Kristol's Point on Health Care is a stark reminder that conservative politics is intimately related to spreading human suffering, and yes, even death. It's not just that conservatives are warmongers, moreso than liberals. And it's not just that they care about money, and don't care who dies so they can get more of it. Both those are quite true, of course, but they are only secondary manifestations. One can turn from one form of conservatism to another, over and over again, and repeatedly come up against this is one form or another: Conservative policies hurt people. Conservative policies kill people. And conservative policies tend to look worse to people as their lives become better.
The basic reason for this is quite simple, as George Lakoff, for one, has pointed out: empathy is a core liberal value, and because of it liberals don't believe in hurting people. While this is true of many individual conservatives as well, it is true of them in spite of their conservative beliefs, not because of them. Now that Bush is on the verge of leaving the national stage, it's worth recalling that he climbed up onto it under the banner of "compassionate conservatism," a tacit--if unintended--admission that conservatism normally is mean-spirited, if not downright cruel. Only thing was, the same turned out to be true of "compassionate conservatism" as well.
Lakoff provides the most economically way of understanding what's going on here. Conservatism derives from a family model that in turn is premised on a the presumption of a "dangerous world". This does not simply mean a world with dangers in it. No one doubts there are things that can harm one in the world. The question is, are these characteristic of the world as a whole? Do they predominate to such an extent that one should always be focused on them, rather than the benign and beneficent aspects of the world?
Belief in a dangerous world means living with an ever-present underlying attitude of distrust, and this inevitably leads to taking on a greater or lesser degree of indifference, contempt and ultimately hostility towards ones fellow brothers and sisters.
This is why, for example, conservatives are so utterly incompetent in defending against terrorism. Rather than focus on the relatively small group of terrorists who attacked us on 9/11--who could have been brought to justice within a matter of months--conservatives have decided that we had to go to war with the largest possible group of people we could find to pick a fight with. If they have their way, we will ultimately be at war with the entire Moslem world, at the very least.
They claim, of course, that it is liberals who can't be trusted to counter terrorism. Liberals are too weak, too indecisive, too easily bullied into submission by the evildoers out there. It's considered "weak" to not go out and kill the innocent in a blind psychotic rage.
Well, we've tried that way for over seven years now, and it doesn't seem to be too much to ask that we try something different, something saner now, instead.
This is, of course, a "far left" thing to ask: instead of gasoline, let's try putting out the fire with something that doesn't feed it.