Indictment on Modern Day Conservatism

I’m not usually one to write about politics, but that might change in the coming days and months. At least here on this blog where I don’t have to worry about sticking within the confines of business and technology.

The last week has been exciting. The first African American from a major political party to receive his party nomination for President of the United States. Compounded was that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings “I Have a Dream” speech.

It couldn’t have been planned any better.

Today, Sen. John McCain announced that he was upsetting the apple cart by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate. Yes, only the second woman to fill the VP running mate role.

This pick deserves a post of its own. What is the “woman vote”? Can women be pigeon holed into a singular mindset? Some women might want to claim that the issues women care about are the issues that all women care about. But really, women are just like men in that there are hundreds of different sub-sets.

Regardless, it’s a different issue for a different post.

I want to talk about conservatism, because the word has been so ruined and drug through the mud by modern day conservatism.

Conservatism can be wrapped up in one word: Individuals.

Individuals are the most valuable asset of a conservative society. Individuals can make choices, decisions and reap the individual consequences. Individuals are protected from a narcissistic government, predatory corporations and rabid special interests.

Conservatism expects that western influence will not be forced on non-western cultures, and values the identity of cultural and social choice. It’s all about individuals and government should not infringe on that.

Conservatism believes that there is no better example for children than parents and that no one should insert themselves in a healthy parent-child relationship.

True conservatism believes that above all else, the Constitution is the guiding law of this land and that the balance of power exists to protect the people from the government.

Reality says that the above description describes modern day liberalism pretty well. It does not describe modern day conservatism.

Modern day conservatism insists that National Security trumps individual protections and rights. Modern day conservatism insists that in order to protect Americans at home, that we must proactively intervene in other parts of the world. Modern day conservatism says that to protect American influence in the world at a point where American influence has plateaued or even declined, we must aggressively re-assert that influence.

Modern day conservatism protects the military-industrial complex and large corporations in the name of blind and unfettered capitalism.

When I declare proudly and loudly that I am a conservative, I am holding on to the classical conservative ideals, and not to modern day conservatism which is no better than a wolf in sheep clothing.

And to Christians who blindly follow the modern day Republican party, I’d encourage you to take a step back and determine if the party and their actions accurately reflect the call of Scripture. Remember the prophecy of to Israel where, among other indictments, Amos says:

You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.

You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Relevant Conservatism in the Internet Era

As a conservative who is also supporting Barack Obama (Yes We Can) this fall, I’m fascinated watching the efforts both campaigns are making to reach out to an internet savvy Generation Y. With mixed results, mind you.

John McCain has been flogged for his gaffes surrounding the internet. Phrases likes, “I’m aware of the internet” are not gaining any points in the arena of internet geek public opinion. It is clear that Barack Obama is winning this critical demographic of 18-35 year olds with a grass roots campaign that encourages small several dollar donations from average web users and that the McCain campaign is desperate to appear relevant in their online outreach efforts.

However, it is not just McCain’s campaign. The Republican National Committee is going to its own great lengths to produce the appearance of relevancy in a hostile internet environment that is largely committed to the Democratic base.

Such was the effort of the RNC’s latest viral marketing campaign directed toward the Facebook generation. BarackBook is a spoof on the popular Facebook site and includes videos, a “MyFriends” section highlighting several “friends” of Obama involved in organized crime, political corruption and the often antagonized capitalistic market. The “news feed” uses typical Facebook prose to highlight these friends activities, “Barack Obama and Antoin “Tony” Rezko are now friends with Allison Davis“.

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The problem is as it always is. This marketing attempt is leveraged toward a demographic that does not believe what the Republicans have to say. They’ve feel like they have been lied to for at least 8 years and maybe 15 if you go back to 1994 when the Republicans took over Congress.

Obama’s appeal comes from a desire for change. Techies are already disillusioned by the current administration. By throwing in real and relevant issues to the technology community, such as Ted Stevens “false statements” charges, the cost of energy, the inability to secure H1B Visas for foreign engineers (many who are more brilliant than American engineers), the high cost of energy needed to power massive server farms that keep us online, a “too-little, too-late” government involvement in the mortgage scandal that is forcing people out of work and creating a shortage of job opportunities in the tech space as well as the weak dollar that makes it difficult for American internet companies to do international internet business has created an environment where the internet technology world is hostile toward GOP, laissez-faire, status quo policies.

Republican efforts to appeal to a technology audience are encouraged, but should not be expected to change sentiment overnight. A return to traditional conservative roots where opportunities are provided for the willing and able, government removing themselves as much as possible from the lives of the citizens, and barriers to technology innovation lowered (tax incentives for innovation) would play well over time with the technology crowd. Participation in the internet space on blogs (with comments enabled and dialogue in play) on social networks like Facebook (not just hands off Facebook groups) would go a long way.

I’m not a Republican. I left the Republican party several years ago as it became clear the party left me. I am a conservative and see a real need for real change. I mean, throw out everything we know and rebuild kind of change. The kind of change that keeps conservatism relevant in 2008 and going into the next decade.