Last week on Townhall I did a column called Answering 20 Questions Liberals Wanted to Ask a Conservative. In it, I noted that I had promised to answer liberal questions to conservatives without sarcasm. Since there was a great reaction to the column, I decided to do a part 2. I’d like to give a special thanks to Conor Friedersdorf and Glenn Greenwald for helping me get liberal questions. Now, here are the answers.
1) Kamran ?@KamRancisco y are u so afraid of Muslims? Before 9-11, we were token Aladdin/Apu. Laughably, we are now out to destroy USA?
As a matter of fact, on 9/11 I had a Turkish roommate. So, no, I don’t find Muslims scary. The conservatives who do find Muslims scary feel that way because they have been regularly reading headlines that feature Muslims murdering, raping, enslaving and torturing people in the name of Islam for the last 15 years.
Now is the average Muslim responsible for that? No, but that doesn’t change the fact that a significant minority of Muslims support Sharia, are anti-Semitic, are pro-terrorist, etc. Unfortunately, these people have had some success in recruiting “moderate Muslims” to their way of thinking.
If we had an effective way to screen the radicals out, then Muslims wouldn’t be any different than any other religious group. Unfortunately, we don’t. In other words, there are unique risks to bringing in Muslim immigrants or refugees that don’t exist with any other religious group. That leads to a certain amount of tension between screening out the not insubstantial number of Muslims who want to murder us while we try to avoid antagonizing “moderate Muslims.”
2) Paola Thomas ?@realpaolathomas Why don't women deserve equal pay for equal work?
Conservatives would argue that if you compare apples to apples, women already do have equal pay for equal work. Christina Hoff Sommers does a good job of explaining the conservative approach to the subject.
The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers.
… Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.
3) John Q. Public ?@BusterWindle Why don't liberty loving conservatives ever utter the phrase "voting rights"?
This is a perspective difference between conservatives and liberals. Many conservatives believe that if anything, we’ve gone way overboard in an effort to maximize the number of people voting. Not asking for an ID seems nuts to conservatives. Think about it: you need a driver’s license to get on a plane, buy alcohol, get a place to live, cash a check, rent a car, but having one to vote is too difficult? It’s hard to take that seriously. There are also a number of states where illegal aliens are allowed to get driver’s licenses which automatically qualify them to potentially vote. When we’re not even taking the most basic precautions to safeguard the integrity of the vote because someone, somewhere might potentially have a problem if they’re completely incompetent, we’ve gone too far in the wrong direction.
4) Deeply Troubled ?@derivativeburke finally it seems like conservatives have a hard time mixing smaller government with a desire for that gov. to be competent
That would only be true if you believe that more money leads to better government programs and that’s often not the case.
Conservatives actually have a different view on that issue. We generally believe that the federal government doesn’t do anything as quickly, cheaply and efficiently as the free market. Moreover, we think the biggest reason that the government is so incompetent is that it’s doing so many things it was never meant to do in the first place. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” If we actually stuck to that, the federal government would only be a fraction of its current size and the competence level of the government would probably dramatically escalate.
5) Paolo Bacigalupi ?@paolobacigalupi Are you at all concerned that Trump is undermining our national security? Kremlin links? Australia fight? NATO?
I think Trump could conceivably undermine our relations with other nations via careless words or tweets, but I don’t know that will happen. For example, I think having a more positive relationship with Russia could turn out to be a good thing. The Obama Administration used to think so as well. Remember Hillary and her “reset button?” As to the Australia fight, I’m not convinced that it happened. To me, an anonymous source dredged up by the Washington Post to a call that very, very few people would have had access to isn’t very credible in the face of denials from Trump and Turnbull that it happened as it was reported. When it comes to NATO, I agree with Trump that changes need to be made. Essentially, the United States and Britain are supposed to do all the fighting while everyone else does almost nothing except complain about how things are going. Additionally, many of the nations in NATO have let their militaries degenerate to the point where they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. In other words, we should be taking a hard look at NATO and either making some changes or going in a different direction. Long story short, there could certainly be problems with how Trump handles our national security, but so far, so good.
6) Alex Chrisope ?@AlexChrisope Will GOP Congress or Trump admin consider a basic universal income, whether as a replacement or supplement to entitlements?
That seems very unlikely because there would be a great deal of concern on the Right that it would lead to large numbers of people refusing to work and just living off their universal income. If anything, we should want to bring a much greater share of the population into the work force, not encourage people to drop out of it.
7) James R. Hoffman ?@JRickHoffman Can we make grand compromises? Voter ID, but Early Voting/Nat. Holiday. Abortion restrictions but free birth control/welfare
The incentives in our political system make it difficult to cut any big deals. If you’re in a safe state or district (and most Democrats and Republicans are), this is an extremely risky move for you because you’re not going to lose to the other side in your race. You’re only going to lose in a primary and signing on to deals that help the other side get what it wants is how you get primaried.
For example, imagine what would happen to the politicians who signed on to the abortion restrictions in return for free birth control and a more generous welfare system deal. Any Democrats who voted for that would get skinned alive by Planned Parenthood, they’d have NARAL organizing protests on their doorsteps and every liberal blog would talk about them like the devil. On the other hand, groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks would hammer any Republicans who signed on, while Rush Limbaugh would call them RINOs, conservative blogs would roast them, etc.
In an environment where the partisanship level is off the charts on both sides, it’s very difficult to compromise.
8) Jess Remington ?@JessRems Do you believe Trump will significantly revive the manufacturing industry thru higher tariffs and alienating trade partners?
Manufacturing jobs went away because per capita income went up a lot, shipping containers and computers made overseas factories much more viable and because of automation. Tariffs might bring back a few jobs, but they would also raise costs. Barring an economic collapse that made it possible to hire American workers at a fraction of their current rates, low skill manufacturing jobs are unlikely to come back, no matter what Trump does.
9) Lina ?@linalinablina why doesn't character matter to you anymore?
Although I have been generally pleased with how Trump has governed so far, I didn’t vote for him, in part because I did have concerns about his character. On the other hand, if character is your first concern, Hillary was probably even worse than Trump. So, it’s not as if either party put up a candidate who was beyond moral reproach. I think there were a lot of conservatives who didn’t really feel comfortable with Trump, but who looked at the only viable alternative and felt he was the better moral choice. I can understand that reasoning.
10) Miles Palmer ?@palmerpolitics At what point will taxes be so low that you would cease advocating for them to be cut further?
This is a simple question that has a very complex answer.
To begin with, America already has the most progressive tax code in the Western World. That’s how you end up with some people paying north of 50% of their income in taxes (if you add in state, sales, gas, etc.) while roughly 40% of the population is paying no income taxes at all. So, given that we run a massive deficit every year, you could make the argument that the wealthy are simultaneously being overtaxed while the poor and lower middle class aren’t being taxed enough. Since that’s political suicide, nobody will openly make that argument, but eventually politicians will sneak in a VAT or some other type of sneaky tax to try to get more money out of the poor and middle class.
I know that doesn’t quite answer your question, but that’s because the answer is dependent on the level of government spending. If we, let’s say, cut the government spending in half, not only would it create a massive spike in economic growth, we’d need a lot less tax money to pay for it. In an ideal world, the federal government would be a fraction the size that it is currently and therefore, we’d only need a fraction of the taxes that are currently paid in to maintain it.
11) Anti-Fascist ?@jacobtaber why is the religious freedom of an anti-LGBT baker important to you, but not a Muslim soldier or physician?
All religions, including Christianity, tend to pay more attention to infringements that impact their faith. So, yes, conservative Christians probably care much more about a baker being harassed for not serving a gay marriage than they do about something that impacts people of another religion. However, that being said, per the 1st Amendment, the religious freedom of Muslim soldiers and physicians is important and it should be treated as such.
12) Jess Remington ?@JessRems Do you think Christian refugees are more deserving of American assistance than non-Christian refugees?
As a Christian, I do put a higher priority on helping Christians & Jews than I do on helping people from other religions. Christians don’t look out for each other the way they should. Setting aside my religious beliefs, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world right now. Given that, if we are going to bring refugees here, Christians would seem to be the natural choice. Also as an added bonus, Christianity is the largest religion in the United States; so they’d be more likely to fit right in with the existing culture.
13) America 1776 - 2016 ?@ExGOPer How do conservatives square 8 yrs of calling Obama a "tyrant" while supporting an actual tyrant?
I have absolutely nothing good to say about Obama, but I don’t know that I’d say he was a tyrant. I think he was habitually dishonest, incompetent, hyper-partisan and deserved to be impeached, but I don’t think he was Kim Jong-Il. He didn’t try to put conservatives in camps. He didn’t try to seize power although he certainly didn’t care much about the Constitution or the law
As to Trump, I can see how some people may worry that he has authoritarian tendencies. I can understand how liberals would strongly dislike the fact that he’s aggressively moving to the right just as Obama tried to move things to the Left. I could even see criticisms with how some of his policies have been executed, but he hasn’t done anything I’d consider tyrannical. In fact, other than a few divergences on trade, he’s essentially governed so far as a standard conservative (albeit a very active one).
You may disagree, but I’m not really sure that the reaction to President Ted Cruz or President Marco Rubio would be radically different than the one we’ve seen to Trump. After hearing that Bush, McCain, and Romney were all Hitler, it’s hard to seriously consider that Trump is tyrannical, particularly when it doesn’t fit with what he’s actually done so far.
14) DanFostersEthos ?@DanFostersEthos Why do you think a lot of conservatives are so receptive to stern father types on cable news and talk radio?
I don’t know that I’d describe Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, etc. as “stern father types.” That being said, there’s an analogy that has fallen out of favor that may help explain the differences in what liberals and conservatives like to hear from the media.
The Democratic Party is the mommy party, and the Republican Party is the daddy party. Now, you and I both love both our mothers and fathers, right? But they play different roles in many families. The mother is loving and caring and takes us back in and provides the safety net. The father is the disciplinarian -- tough love. He makes us face up to hard realities, at least in many families. Well, the mommy party is the Democratic Party. The daddy party is the Republican Party. And I think if you look at the economy, you look at the housing, the mortgage crisis, a whole wide range of things, you'll find that the parties fulfill these images.
These are very different approaches, but they have a great deal of influence on the attitudes, ideas and policies of both sides.
15) Osaye ?@Osaye1 why do you hate helping people?
I’ve never mentioned this publicly before, but for the last three years I’ve reached out to churches, found families that are struggling at Christmas time and bought presents for their whole family. It was all done anonymously and none of them have ever known who helped them out. Over the years, I’ve also bought at least a week’s worth of groceries for three different friends in need. Incidentally, this sort of thing isn’t unusual at all. Most of the missionaries, people working soup lines and tithing 10% of their income are conservatives. We tend to judge helpfulness based on what you actually do for people personally, not on whether or not you support a government program paid for with other people’s money. It’s a different way of looking at it.