Susan Dench, the founder of the “Informed Women’s Network” has caused quite a stir among my friends and colleagues this week with her piece called “Let’s lay it all out there: Why, yes, I am a conservative” and if you know me at all, which you should by now, then you know I have an opinion about this. My dear friend and fellow blogger Amy Fried made some very important points about the content of the article in her most recent blog in Pollways. I will defer to her for fact checks regarding the incident involving the governor in which supposed “radical left wing groups” infiltrated a meeting, taped the governor’s comments and, oh my, made him look bad. Legal? Fair? I don’t really know. Unnecessary? Completely. The governor is perfectly capable of making himself look bad on a daily basis without any help from us liberals.
Yes, I’m putting it out there. I’m a liberal. I know, you are all shocked!
What I would like to point out, however, about Ms. Dench’s article, is that many of the things she seems to think qualify her as a conservative, are actually values shared by many of us on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Folks often seem to forget that conservatives do not have the market cornered on things like family values, personal responsibility, patriotism and hard work; and that liberals love their children just as much as their conservative neighbors. Who would have thought!
My hope, however, is that maybe, just maybe, if we focused a little bit on the things we have in common, conservatives and liberals, we might be able to work together more often on the issues that really matter to both of us. Don’t laugh, it could totally happen. Let’s try it!
Some of the points Ms. Dench claims as conservative values are values that I also hold dear! While I can’t speak for all liberals, many of my very informed liberal friends share these same values as well:
- “Holding our elected officials at the local, state and federal level accountable for spending our hard-earned tax dollars responsibly”
- “Being against government greed”
Fiscal responsibility is not a conservative value. We all wish to use our resources in the most responsible manner possible.
- “Believing in constitutional government”
Liberals are also big fans of the Constitution. However, it is not flawless. As we grow and learn, as humans and as a country, adjustments need to be made. This is why we no longer have slavery, and women get to vote.
- “Believing in a hand up” and “the dignity of work and free determination for every human being”
- “Individuals should take personal responsibility”
Yes, Liberals believe in personal responsibility and want everyone who is able to work to do so. The reality is that not everyone in this country has had the same access to education and opportunity. Calling these folks lazy and cutting the help they rely on will not solve these problems or suddenly motivate them to find jobs. Blaming the folks who want to work for the few who do take advantage of the system does nothing to solve the problem either. They are lacking opportunity, not motivation.
- “Supporting our military and veterans”
There are folks from all political persuasions in the military, and even liberals support our veterans. In fact, as the parent of an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, I often find I am more informed than many of the conservatives I know on some issues. No, we may not always agree on the best uses for our military but we are not all holding hands singing “Kumbaya” nor are we completely ignorant of the realities of the world! Having a different opinion on current world situations does mean we do not love our country. Patriotism is not a conservative value.
- “Giving of my time, talent and treasure to the benefit of my community and the truly needy whom we have a moral obligation to help”
Yes, agreed! We volunteer in our communities, we give to charities, and we start and run and work for all types of non-profits and community organizations!
- “Believing that every child deserves an education free of political indoctrination”
Yes, again we agree! All children deserve an education, at all levels, including college! And yes, we want this education to be free from political indoctrination as well. Let’s inform our children of ALL the facts and ALL the issues. Who would disagree that informed citizens are better citizens. Allowing my children to hear opinions that disagreed with mine never threatened me, nor my values. The same can be said of religious indoctrination as well (and herein lies a snag). Liberals believe it is the responsibility of the family to teach a child in the religion of their choice, or in no religion at all. The place for this is not public schools!
- “Women who choose to work in the home and raise their families are doing the most important work of all”
We agree on this one as well. Raising children is the most important job of all and we want both the mothers and the FATHERS who choose to do this as their primary career to be supported. However, we also want the parent who chooses to work outside the home to be supported in that as well, especially since we’ve discussed that not everyone has had the same education or opportunity. Not every family can afford to have one parent home full time, and not every family needs to. We support the choices of all families, no matter what the make up of those families may be, because above all else it’s none of our damn business!
I agree with Ms. Dench that conservative is not a pejorative term, but neither is liberal. Nor do the opinions or actions of any one person with either label represent all. I actually prefer the term “progressive” myself. I have also often described myself as someone who used to be a very “liberal conservative” and is now more of a slightly “conservative liberal.” My labels have changed as I’ve grown and learned, and experienced life. I think that’s a good thing! I sincerely hope the Informed Women’s Network keeps informing folks, on ALL the issues! Being well informed should never be a threat to your own personal morality or value system! I respect their right to beliefs I may not share and ask only that they respect mine in return.
Labels may be necessary, but they are not always accurate, and they are often detrimental to the process. As long as we keep using them to draw lines in the sand, nothing is going to ever get done. Maybe we need to start throwing the labels away and focusing instead on the issues, and the real people affected by them.
And maybe, just maybe, we might find out, that as humans and as women, we all have more in common than we ever imagined!