By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Political terms are necessarily contradictory. Today’s liberals and Democrats used to be conservatives, advocating states’ rights and protecting slavery.
Today’s conservatives and Republicans began as big government activists that stifled free trade and used military force against their own people.
Eventually, one side’s opinion becomes more accepted, and after a few decades, the liberals become mainstream, and the mainstream becomes conservative as last century’s conservatives become liberal.
But as the 2004 election comes around, there seems to be some confusion as to what exactly “conservative” means.
Republicans, especially religious ones, have long been against conservatism in its truest form. They argued (and still do but with less of a platform) for government censorship and regulation against the arts, they promote a liberal, non-absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment, and they most recently have argued that the government should regulate private consensual activity.
These positions seem to be in direct contradiction to conservative principles of limited government spending, little regulation and free trade.
They push for a government that reflects their views, even those that government has no right reflecting.
For example, social conservatives push for something as silly as a Constitutional amendment determining the definition of marriage, even though conservative federalism dictates the issue be left to the states.
Perhaps the downfall of conservatism is its unwillingness to change. Looking ahead 50 years is perhaps a chore for those who would rather legislate their morality now and not consider the possibility that they may reach a day when someone else is controlling whose morality should be legal.
Perhaps that’s why U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a Democrat who is more conservative than many Northeastern Republicans, can decry Bush for being too liberal with his tax cuts.
Perhaps the time has come when Democrats-who have supported civil liberties protections, pushed for a balanced budget and opposed government intrusion in private lives-are more conservative than Republicans.