Why I Am a Conservative

Posted: November 9, 2012 by GaryM in Political Philosophy
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“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” (Attributed variously to Churchill, Clemenceau and others.)

While I was never a liberal, I was certainly less conservative when I was younger. I was originally of the opinion that conservatives were better at creating wealth and progressives were better at distributing it. So my theory was we should alternate between Republican and Democrat governments. So I favored Humphrey over Nixon in 1968 and Ford over Carter in 1976. All that changed after the 1976 election, because I met some genuine movement progressives in 1978, and I have never looked back. I have also not been surprised by anything progressives have done since then.

In 1978, while working my way through college (back when that was possible), I worked for a time with a group of community organizers. I got involved with their fund raising operation, which involved canvassing neighborhoods to get people to sign petitions and ask for contributions for the organization’s various programs. The group was pushing for the establishment of a 911 system, the employment of EMTs by the city, legislation to maker generic drugs more readily available and other consumer issues. All extremely worthwhile initiatives, that would help the people we were canvassing.

Since I believed in the programs they were pushing, I was quite effective in soliciting both signatures and contributions. I was young, enthusiastic, clean cut (my friends more substance challenged friends told me I looked like a narc), and somewhat persuasive. In fact, I raised more per week than anyone else had done for them before, including the man supervising the program. To the point that that supervisor approached me one night about taking over the canvassing program.

He explained to me that before the organization could put me in that kind of position, they had to be sure I was of like mind to the organization’s founders, and proceeded to give me a series of history lessons over several weeks. He told me that the primary organizer of our group had been a founding member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society – an misnomer if ever there was one). He explained that while the organization was interested in the programs we were seeking support for, they were actually a means to an end. This was the first I had ever heard about community organizing, what I had been doing for months without even knowing.

I learned that, while the donations we were obtaining in the canvassing effort were needed, the real goal of the program was the names, addresses and signatures of the people who were donating. The goal, he explained, was to establish a reputation in the community for doing good works, with the intent of establishing a base of power. Power was the key. It was the life blood of the organization.

At first I had no difficulty with this. It seemed rather obvious to me that was going on. What did surprise me was to learn that establishing the services we were using to gain the financial contributions and create our power base, were actually irrelevant to the organizers. We had numerous discussions about the history of the movement, and most importantly why the organization operated the way it did.

I learned that the various radicals involved in the SDS and other leftist student movements had felt crushed by the failure of their efforts to start an actual marxist style revolution in the 60s. That 1968 in particular had been seen by the various leaders as the year the proletariat would rise up and overthrow their capitalist oppressors. There were student riots in Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, and here in the U.S. at Columbia University, not to mention the grand daddy of them all, at the Democratic convention in Chicago.

They had employed their best organizing and subversive tactics, had maneuvered the establishment into what they thought was an untenable situation, and riots were being led by the student “elites” throughout the western world. And the results? To their horror, the election of Richard Nixon in November, 1968. And not just his election, but his reelection in a landslide in 1972 (after further “community organized” riots, including the Days of Rage in Chicago in 1969).

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (my words, not the community organizer I worked for obviously), about the failure of the stupid middle class to recognize how oppressed they were. They apparently were too besotted by the material wealth the capitalist system had brought them, and therefore did not realize how miserable they really were.

So, it was explained to me, the various bright lights of the movement decided that there had to be a change of tactics. This was a group mind you that had posters of Mao on their walls, and many of whom, my supervisor among them, affected berets ala Che Guevara. They apparently decided to learn from their idols, Mao in particular. They give up the hopes of a spontaneous revolution, and took up the long view. And thus community organizing became all the rage. The radicals decided to leave the barricades, enter the establishment, and subvert it from within.

My supervisor did not expect me to take his word for all this, so he gave me an extensive reading assignment. Pamphlets (not the ones we had been distributing to the hoi polloi), books, and news articles, including one screed penned by the founder of our own organization. I was to take them home, read them, and come back and tell him if I wanted to move up in the organization.

Everything he gave me confirmed what he had told me. The most notable entry in my new syllabus was Saul Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals, which he had described to me as “the community organizer’s bible.” I took them home, read them all over the weekend, saving Alinsky’s book, the best, for last. I finished them all, went into the office the next Monday, and quit. And I have never looked back.

All those people who had trusted me, given me their money, their names and addresses, and promises of future support, whose confidence I had gained, had been lied to. They were nothing but a means to an end. (As Alinsky wrote, any progressive who will not use the ends to justify any means, is not worthy of the name. And boy do they practice what they preach.) And that end was power. Power for its own sake.

The organization had used my sincerity, my ability to persuade, to lie to and use people like a low rent con man. And not only was there no guilt felt by these “progressives,” but they considered guilt, or even second thoughts, as a sign of weakness. Alinsky makes it clear that lying is not only not wrong, but is a moral imperative (which is funny coming from people who reject objective morality). They had conned me into propagating their lies to people who had invited me into their homes, and trusted me.

I have seen their tactics on display ever since. Radical leftists lead our educational colleges, our universities in general, our media, our cultural centers, book publishing, and virtually every big city government and school system. They have become incredibly effective at repackaging their lust for power in a bait and switch of pretending to favor “programs” for the poor and middle class, all the while selling those people down the road to accumulate more power.

“Community organizers” whose communities slide ever deeper into poverty and despair. City school systems that don’t teach, keeping millions poor, uneducated and dependent on government. City and state governments that drive away business to increase the dependence of their citizens on government. Media operations that package every progressive power grab as a quest for “fairness,” and “for the children.”

A progressive is a progressive first, and everything else second. They thrive by creating dependence on government the way a heroine pusher thrives by creating addiction. And like drug pushers, they are oblivious to the devastation they leave in their wake.  To them, the ends justify the means – and the only end progressives give a damn about is power. That is why I have been a conservative since I was 22 years old, and will be until the day I die.

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