November 19, 2002

Liberals don't get conservatism

Apparently my column of two weeks ago ("Liberals need to listen," November 5) made blood boil. I'm disappointed, because I was really hoping to incite a response like shaking of fists, or ideally, wailing and gnashing of teeth. The individual whose hemocytes I raised to such a tizzy, Igor Serbreyana, saw fit to respond to said column.

First, his suggestion that I have a "dim recollection" of the Constitution is false. The truth is that Serbreyana completely misinterprets the Constitution. Our Constitution does not, as he claims, "protect the interests of the few against the many," it protects the liberties of the few against the many. It guarantees the freedoms of speech and religion, the right to a speedy trial, the freedom from unreasonable searches, etc. It does not give people the right to a certain level of economic prosperity, as Serbreyana suggests by using the word "interests." If the majority of the people vote to get rid of welfare, they have that right. Indeed, the right most important to the founding fathers was the right to hold property without it being summarily seized by the state.

At no point have I ever expressed anything short of complete adulation for our Constitution. While I often disagree with liberals, I have never questioned their right to hold and express their opinions, a courtesy many of them seem to want to withhold from me.

Serbreyana claims that the two major political parties in this country are the same greedy organizations. If the parties are the same, and only interested in their own power, then why are there over 100 million registered Democrats and Republicans? Do these people not know better? Are they stupid? Why do they waste their time? Obviously they should just make a Platonic philosopher-king, since clearly liberals and their cronies are the only ones who can see American democracy for the hoax that it is.

I also think it's really cute that when Serbreyana raised the subject of Iraq, he said our leaders are contemplating military action for the oil and the political windfall involved. It's not like Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons against Israel, Iran, and his own people. It's not like he has repeatedly defied the U.N. and is building nuclear weapons. Surely he isn't a murderous dictator whose removal would make life far better for his people. And as I've said before, it's not like Saudi Arabia, which has no army and far more oil, isn't a more inviting target if it is oil our leaders want. No, America's just a big imperialist aggressor bent on world conquest. That's why when we had the world at its knees in 1945, we helped rebuild all the shattered countries and set up institutions to curb our own power.

Serbreyana also posits that conservatives protect the "affluent minority." He then says they "have insured that the affluent and self-centered majority will trust them with real power." Is it an affluent minority or majority? Choose one, please, before you make such rash and inaccurate generalizations.

The heart of my disagreement with Serbreyana is that I think historically, more good has been accomplished due to "self-centeredness" than because of altruistic intentions. The truth is that every invention, every technological advance in human history, has come about because somebody wanted to make some money off of it. These advances, along with the overall economic growth that has accompanied them, have proven to be the surest tool for helping the underprivileged. A century ago raw sewage ran in the streets of our cities and cholera was always breaking out due to bad drinking water, but the economic growth of the country as a whole remedied these and other ills. The underclass in America is far better off today than it was even fifty years ago, and that trend should continue as progress proceeds on its course.

I respect liberals. Most of my family and friends lean that way. Like them, I am interested in promoting the general welfare, but we disagree on the means. What bothers me is when liberals like Serbreyana claim the moral high ground over conservatives and paint us as selfish and greedy and themselves as enlightened and caring. It is not as if they are making some big sacrifice when they tout liberal views. Their positions are so out of line with those of mainstream America that they will never have to live with the consequences of them. Meanwhile, they enjoy all the benefits of American prosperity and security while attacking the edifices on which those benefits rest. Hey, that's their right, but it's pretty hypocritical. How does Serbreyana rationalize attending a school founded on the blood money of that notorious capitalist John D. Rockefeller?

I apologize if the vehemence of my response to Serbreyana is off-putting. However, when people blindly criticize my opinions without providing an adequate counter-argument, I will retaliate. Hopefully this will deter such behavior, but as a conservative and a realist, I'm not counting on that to happen.