It is a cliche that conservatives believe in equality of opportunity and liberals believe in equality of results. But, what this really means is that conservatives work toward a society in which all who work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to society earn the benefit of their labor. Liberals reject hard work, arguing that just by being born, one is entitled to the benefit of other people’s labor, even if one does not work at all, does not play by the rules and contributes nothing to society.
America is far from perfect, but it does a better job than any society ever created at ensuring that everyone who works hard has a chance to succeed. Granted, some people start with advantages over others. But everyone who works hard and contributes value to our society is rewarded. Even illegal immigrants who start with every possible disadvantage (aside from physical handicaps) succeed far beyond what they could do back home, simply by working hard. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t come to America in the first place.
The goal of the conservative is to ensure that even those who do not start out with many advantages can succeed if they work hard. For example, free public schools are a conservative invention. They are a statement that every child, no matter how poor, will have access to the basic tools of success. Granted, some schools are better than others, but the biggest difference between school isn’t funding, or materials, or the quality of teachers. The biggest difference is the students. Students in successful schools work harder than students in unsuccessful schools. They arrive at school every day, ready to work hard and learn. Compare absenteeism and drop-out rates in successful schools and unsuccessful schools and you’ll see what I mean. Even in our worst public schools, the student who works hard and tries to learn will learn and will obtain the tools necessary to succeed in life.
Liberals, on the other hand, reject hard work. Take their view of hard work in the schools. One commenter to an earlier post pointed out that in any class there will always be a bottom 10%. Perhaps, but the conservatives and liberals have very different views on how to deal with this fact. Conservatives believe that every student who works hard and earns an A should receive one. In a conservative classroom, if every student earns an A, every student receives an A and there is no bottom 10%. Liberals believe that every student should receive an A just for signing up for class. You don’t have to earn the A, or work at all. You don’t even have to attend class. Liberals eliminate the bottom 10% by fiat. Heck, liberals would eliminate the grading entirely.
Conservatives teach to the test. Liberals teach, uh, unearned self-esteem. Conservatives reward accomplishment. Liberals reward, uh, breathing. Conservatives reward hard work. Liberals denigrate hard work. Conservatives believe you earn the right to move on to the next grade by passing the test. Liberals beliieve in social promotion and would rather eliminate the test. Conservatives don’t give a hoot about things like skin color, religion, and gender that have nothing to do with accomplishment. Liberals are obcessed with skin color, religion, gender, etc. Conservatives abhor discrimination. Liberals eagerly discriminate against white males (God help the person who by unhappy circumstance is born a poor white male in American — he has all of the handicaps that accompany poverty but lives in a society that assumes he is rich and punishes him for being white and male).
The conservatives’ love of hard work should not be confused with a love of competition. The cliche here is that conservatives love competition and liberals love cooperation. The truth is that conservatives value both competition and cooperation. There is no area in which cooperation is more important and valued than the military, a profession conservatives revere and liberals disrespect. Conservatives love sports, which are the purest form of competition around today, but they love teams sports more than individual sports; they love the cooperative, teamwork aspect of the team sports as much as the individual accomplishments. Liberals, on the other hand, make cooperation the be-all and end-all and actively discourage competition. The conservative view is much better balanced and much healthier.
Conservativism is more practical than liberalism, too. Societies that reward hard work have always been more successful than societies that do not. Why? Because most people simply will not work all that hard if they see the rewards for their labor taken from them and given to someone who did not work at all. They recognize the unfairness of this at a gut level, and ultimately, rebel by not working so hard. But more on that in another post at another time.
Conservatives believe in capitalism. Liberals believe in socialism. Capitalism works because it recognizes human nature and takes advantage of it. Liberalism ultimately fails because it attempts to change human nature and deny it. More on that later, too.
I’m afraid this post is more a rant than a question, but I’d appreciate all of your comments and thoughts on the basic differences between conservatives and liberals.
P.S. I realize that I’m overgeneralizing here and that the labels are somewhat inapt. What I define as “conservative” today would have been considered “liberal” 50 years ago. What I define as liberal would have been consider Marxist, communist or even fascist 50 years ago. My, how times have changed. Still, use whatever labels you like (left-right, capitalist-socialist, red-blue, realist-idealist, whatever) I think the above captures the two major attitudes in America today. Your comments?