Thankful to be a conservative

Posted: Dec 26, 2002 12:00 AM
In making my list of what I thankful for this holiday season, I added something I would not have considered during this normally politics-free time of year: being a conservative. As one who believes in compartmentalization during the season when we at least try to set aside our differences, exalting pride in politics seems like a particularly crass exercise in divisiveness. But not this year. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve long been proud of my conservative principles--limited government, maximal freedom, equal opportunity--but I’ve never been “grateful” for them or for the ideological company I keep. But I am this year. I consider myself a conservative before a Republican, and the whole Trent Lott imbroglio reminds me why. While opinion among Republicans was roughly evenly divided, reaction from conservatives was not. Almost every major conservative thinker or pundit, from Thomas Sowell to Charles Krauthammer to Bill Bennett, blasted Lott--rightly--for the inexplicable comments he made in praise of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidacy. There was precious little such response, however, from elected Republicans inside the beltway. Lott’s colleagues hesitated calling for his head not because they found the remarks acceptable--they didn’t--but because of what forcing him out could mean for themselves. If Lott is pushed out over one incident (regardless of size or scope), then a “terrible” precedent is set where elected officials are immediately held to account--something that goes against the very nature of the world’s most exclusive club. Conservatives, though, had no such concerns. Conservatives knew that Lott had to go for one simple reason: He showed in his callous comment and subsequent lifeless “apologies” that he is not a true conservative. Disciples of the right can--and do--come to different sides of the same issues
sometimes. Not on race, though. Conservative philosophy on race is simple: all people are created equal under God, and God-willing, under the law as well. Conservatives abhor not just segregation of the 1940’s premised on an intrusive police state, but also segregation of the modern era founded upon political correctness. Colorblindness is not just some utopian ideal, but the goal upon which our eyes are fixed. Criticism from Lott’s right was so strong and unrelenting that it practically drowned out the rebukes from the left. Not that people were missing much, though. Conservative criticism was principled and sincere. Some naysayers on the left were also genuine, of course, but far too many were not. Some--including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jesse “Hymie town” Jackson--decided to exploit the situation as an opportunity to smear all Republicans as racist. But before making such unfounded leaps, they should have remembered their own glass houses. If Lott had praised African-American-only proms or graduations at “mixed” institutions instead of a centagenarian’s campaign of five decades ago, he would have been hailed as a leader--by the left. Leftist philosophy openly rejects the tenets of equal opportunity and colorblindness. On college campuses across the country, died-in-the-wool liberals espouse the “virtues” of each race--blacks are more “creative” and Latinos more “passionate,” for example--and systematically attempt to balkanize the student body along color lines. The left’s obsession with race helps explain the demonization of minorities who dare embrace conservative ideology. Clarence Thomas, Linda Chavez, and Ward Connerly can all attest that hell hath no fury like a leftist who feels “betrayed” by a “sellout.” Because leftist philosophy so heavily emphasizes the importance of color of skin, the idea of a minority endorsing colorblindness is inimical to the left’s belief system. But there is one “get out of racism free” card available: Be a liberal. Witness Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who used the N-word twice in an interview
last year. Criticism he received was scant--and fleeting. A couple days and a few obligatory press releases later, the left was content to let the matter drop. Democrats did not censure or reprimand the man who just months later became third-in-line to the presidency. But former Ku Klux Klansman had covered himself with Teflon by fully supporting the Democratic Party’s agenda, thus he could not possibly be a racist. No such luck for Lott--nor should there have been. And that’s why I’m thankful I’m a conservative.