The Conservative Tree House may be called a Last Refuge for each of us for different reasons. Whatever trail through the woods brought us here, we have shared the turmoil of storms as we have been finding our voices as individuals in this growing community
Perhaps you’ve had some truly shockingly cruel things said to you purely because you believe in limited government and fiscal conservatism. Perhaps you not only believe that we should be self-reliant and personally responsible, but also believe that when we are allowed to depend on ourselves, we are stronger, more successful, take greater pride in ourselves and our work, and are more likely to make positive contributions to society. And then we are happier people, or at least more likely to be happier.
Which lends to the following theory: Fear is at the core of liberalism, and love/trust is at the core of conservatism. Liberalism is about control. Conservatism is about self-empowerment.
Control is a reaction to fear. Think in terms or politics and society – the fear behind liberalism is the fear that someone might withhold things (opportunities, money, whatever) from me, fear that if you live your life in a way I dislike that it might affect my life, fear that if you get that job, there will be nothing left for me. Fear that if you make tons of money, it’s means there’s less money out there for me. So people who believe in liberal ideologies seek control as a means of trying to create guarantees and safeguards against those circumstances they fear. Liberals try to control the world and people to enable their comfort and happiness. Which, as we know, is an endless quest. Trying to control others does nothing in the way of making oneself happy. By extension, voting in this mindset so that government can try to control others will also – shocking – not lead to a happier, more comfortable life.
The conservative (and moderate, independent, but for the sake of expediency, the conservative), on the other hand, relies on himself to meet his own needs. And the trade off of being free to live his life as he wishes is also understanding that he has to make peace with how you live yours. By extension, aware that he wants to be able to hold onto this liberty and freedom forever, the conservative votes accordingly, so that everyone can remain free and in charge of his or her own life.
But here’s the crucial difference, perhaps, particularly where misery on the left stems: The conservative does not worry, so to speak, about you. The conservative knows that you were born with the same access to self-love, self-empowerment, self-determination and self-reliance that we all were, no matter the circumstances into which you were born. (Think about the millions of people this country has allowed to crawl up from poverty into prosperity – the conservative KNOWS this is possible.) And the conservative believes that if you want prosperity, or a good job, or a good education, you can make it happen – but you have to work hard. The conservative hopes and intends that the free markets bring you all of the affordable and positive opportunities and resources that you need. The conservative also knows that on the other side of that hard work is great reward – material and, more importantly, emotional, spiritual and mental.
The conservative understands that not only is it a waste of time to try to control you, it’s actually impossible. Humans were born to be free. And if we put a roadblock in front of you, you’ll find another way around it. So we see attempts at control as a waste of resources, energy and time at best, and at worst, creating detrimental results that serve to hinder people’s upward mobility or teach dependence. We see much more efficiency, as well as endless opportunity, in leaving you to your own devices. And we want the same in return.
This is where democrats mis-view republicans as heartless. But really, the conservative believes that there is one and one path only to sustainable success and independence – and that is self-empowerment. All other avenues – welfare, affirmative action, housing loans you can’t actually afford – ultimately risk doing a disservice to people as they teach dependence on special circumstances, the govt, or arbitrary assistance (that can disappear tomorrow). And the real danger – they will ALWAYS backfire, and leave the recipient in equally or more dire circumstances. Any false improvement will always expire.
The conservative believes in abundance. The liberal believes in scarcity.
The conservative believes man is born free and will be who he is, no matter what arbitrary limitations or rules are put on him. The liberal believes man is perfectible, and by extension, believes a society at large is perfectible, and command and control is justified in the quest to a “perfect” utopian society. (Sounds familiar!)
The conservative tends to be more faithful – and not necessarily in God, but in the ability of the individual to find great strength in himself (or from his God) to get what he needs and to be successful. Therefore the conservative has an outlet for his fear and disappointment – trust and faith in something bigger. The liberal believes the system must be perfected in order to enable success. Therefore disappointment is channeled as anger and blame at the system. Voids are left to be filled by faith in the govt, which they surely then want to come in and “fix” things.
And therein lies the roots of love and fear respectively. For the conservative, when life presents great struggles, he knows he has the power to surmount them. Happiness stems from internal strength and perseverance. For the liberal, when life presents great struggles, the system failed, therefore they were at the mercy of a faulty system, and they believe that only when the system is fixed can their life improve. Happiness is built on systemic contingencies, which they will then seek to control or expect someone else to.
One blames himself. The other blames anyone and everyone but himself.
And there it is. There’s where the meanness comes from. The liberal ideology causes that person to cast anger at the world when things go wrong or appear “unfair.” He constantly chooses only to see the “injustices” – and that makes for a very miserable, mean, blame-casting existence.
One last point that we have seen over and over and over with many (not all) of our liberal friends: Extreme stinginess and cheapness.
In our conservative community growing up, we were always taught that you give when people are in need – make donations to the Red Cross when there’s an earthquake, donate to charity when you can afford it, etc. Even if it’s just $50 here and there – it’s the right thing to do. Conservatives see this as the responsibility that comes with gaining from the capitalistic system; if you happen to benefit greatly from the system, it’s your duty to give back.
The liberal, on the other hand, does not seem to share this same viewpoint, at least not in my experience. And perhaps think this is linked to believing in scarcity, and that your dollar comes at the cost of mine. So it seems that liberals, on some level of consciousness, feel guilty about not being voluntarily charitable. Therefore, to write off their guilt, they outsource their “generosity” to the government by voting for wealth re-distributive policies. Thus, the liberal cheats himself of the joy and addictiveness of direct generosity. (Not to mention – re distributive policies ALWAYS end up dis-empowering those who they’re meant to help.)
However each of us got here, it’s probably a fact that we have the turmoil of those storms in common, perhaps some unease that we could share and always, we also find fresh ground to cover from day to day. We’re developing valuable relationships as we trust one another in our community in the woods. The chatting in the branches encourages, strengthens and equips for some serious walking.
We think the Treehouse is a good armory for those who doing long distance walking for the sake of our nation. We hope you’ll think so, too. Find yourself a good branch….or just pull up a rock to the campfire.