Conservatives and Progressives - How the two great philosophies differ

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conservatives and Progressives

By Larry R. Lasiter

© 2010

As a Pastor, occasionally I am asked questions concerning politics. The following script is my answer to questions from someone I do not know personally but felt obligated to reply. As Christians we are citizens, even Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. But I hold that since we are here in this land at this time, we should do our part to help it prosper. While being a captive in Babylon and later to Persia, faithful Daniel worked in the "kingís interest as well as the "KINGíS" interest. Joseph likewise served both God and Pharaoh while in Egypt. Of course, God and His Kingdom always come first.

I am a Constitutionalist because I would rather be governed by itís principles than be governed by any current administrationís ideology. So, I would be categorized politically as Conservative. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where we are, but each of us need to know where we really stand. I recommend reading Dr. Thomas Sowellís "The Conflict of Visions." This book makes no judgment either way, but contains a wealth of historic information which explains the origins and great visions of these two political philosophies. He asserts that there are few rigid ideologues on either side.

Conservatives and Progressives (Liberals) come from two great visions which have extremely different world views. In a nutshell, Conservatives believe in a static Constitution that is the Law of the land and cannot be altered, while Progressives believe the Constitution cannot be set as the absolute rule of Law and view it as a "living document" which must be updated as needed. Progressives view the Constitution as standing in the way of needed change and often argue that it is a "faulty document." They may have a point, but for me, I trust a static Constitution more than the philosophy of whoever happens to be in office at a given time- I have yet to see an administration that wasnít faulty itself. Without a static Constitution we have no protection against corrupt leaders who may come to power. 

Our forefathers viewed federal government as a "necessary evil", so the Constitution was written to protect citizens against the government- which is why there are so many "shall nots" in it. The government "shall not" prohibit free speak, right to assemble, right to practice any religion, right to bear arms, etc. One might argue that in todayís America gun control is necessary to protect the people. But this cannot be accomplished with a static Constitution because it gives every citizen the right to bear arms.

However the writers claim they wrote the Constitution to protect the freedoms of people not protect the people themselves. And the stated role of government was to protect the liberty and individual freedoms of citizens from their government. If you value protection more than freedom then you lean Progressive - if you value freedom more than governmental protection, then you lean Conservative.

An important difference between Conservatives and Progressives is in where we get our knowledge to rightly govern. Conservatives believe that it takes a village to understand what is needed in drafting laws, while Progressives believe in the superior intellectual enlightenment of the gifted few. Conservatives view history as important to learn from and use past events to regulate future needs. Progressives give history no such validation because they believe it to merely be a record of failures caused by the corruption of systemic forces. (Culture, traditions, religion, prejudices, etc)

If a Conservative were to point to the 100 million people killed by the Progressive Movement in the 20th Century alone, they would point back and claim that their Philosophy was not the problem but that it was corrupted by systemic conditions found in Conservatism.

Conservatives view government as necessary but dangerous to personal freedoms if it becomes too large, while Progressives see the government as the only tool that can bring us to utopia. If you trust government more than the people, you lean Progressive, if you trust the people more than the government, you lean Conservative. Of course, we need protection from both, but we can ask ourselves who we believe we need protection from most. The larger the government the more regulations which equal less freedom but perhaps other benefits.
America was established as a country which has no rulers but is governed by the rule of Law. That rule of Law is the Constitution. Our President, Senators and Congressional officers are public servants not rulers. They are elected by the populace as their representatives, which means they are sent to Washington to be the voice of the people who elected them. America was founded on the principle "We the PEOPLE" which means the citizens are the boss and the representatives, including the President, are the employed servants. So, I do not believe that they should represent their own personal views when they vote but rather the view of the majority in the state which sent them to Washington.


These two world visions go beyond political party affiliation, however most Progressives are currently in the Democratic Party. Since politicians rarely do what they promise during campaigning, we canít trust what they say, but we can see who they relate to and associate with to determine whether they represent our personal views or not. 
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REBUTTAL RESPONSE to my answer:

"I understand what you are going for...but it's an oversimplification of a complex issue. Hopefully, it was cathartic nonetheless. I will challenge the comment that conservatism has somehow cornered the market on "freedom". I've rarely met a conservative who was advocating for more freedom with regard to the so-called "social issues". Perhaps I've not met the right one"

PASTORíS ANSWER:

Taking from those who have to give to those who do not is theft. It is not giving what you have from a heart of charity but is seizing and redistributing what is not yours. It is not equal social justice for those whose wealth is seized. The government has no money of it's own to give, it must take from one to give to another. In this, citizens lose their right to give to who they choose to. The heart of social justice is that no person is discriminated against unjustly regardless of race, gender, religious persuasion, political views, sexual orientation and must include financial status to be fair.

 

I believe in charity and personally have given thousands to the needy especially in Africa and India. I want the freedom to share my wealth with whoever I choose to. Regarding Progressive thought and individual freedom, it is simply an admitted fact that bigger government means more laws which mean more regulations which mean less individual freedom. For every law there is an average of ten regulations. Our present administration which refer themselves as progressives, have already added more than three times the regulations that FDR (also Progressive) did in his entire presidency, and President Obama has only been in office a year and a half. Now the administration is seeking to place a long list of regulations on Wall Street. Whether they should or not or whether it is right or wrong, it is happening, it is just the Progressive way. They believe that what they are doing is necessary and right. If you or anyone else agrees that's fine in America - so far anyway

REBUTTAL RESPONSE to my answer:

"It isn't my intention to debate with you beyond this, but I will "bite" on your hyperbolic "theft" assertion. Civilized nations provide for the common welfare. This includes roads, police, education, etc. If the wealthiest nation in our world's history can't make basic healthcare available to those with the least...then I'm not sure we can rightly call ourselves civilized. You and I just disagree. I believe basic healthcare is a right, without which, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just abstract unattainable & wholly conceptual."

PASTORíS ANSWER:

Rights go both ways. If a person has a right to healthcare then a person has a right to not buy healthcare. Under this bill no one has a right to say no and must purchase health insurance. It is not freely provided by the government but is a mandate which requires everyone to buy it. The HC Bill does not order the wealthiest to pay anyone's insurance premiums - everyone is responsible to buy their own and will pay a fine to the IRS at the end of the year if they cannot show proof of insurance. This is hardly an entitlement program since it requires rather than provides. I am not implying that taxes is theft. Roads are provided by cities, counties and states and taxes to build them are voted in or out by the citizens who live there. Federal taxes are also necessary to provide for the functioning of government and for military protection which serves all citizens. But taking from one who has to give to another who does not is theft. The reason I said this earlier is because of your reference to social freedoms in entitlements. HC in this bill is neither free nor equally socially because it does not provide but requires the poor to purchase what they already cannot afford.

 

 

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