I give conservatives full credit: they tell you who they are and what they want right up front. They want to conserve. The problems (always) start however with what they want to conserve. For one thing, it’s never the future. One can’t conserve what hasn’t happened yet. Even if one could, conservatives would refuse to ever conserve the future because it terrifies them so much. Conservatives want to conserve the past – a place the liked way more – and as much of the past as remains in the present.
If conservatives could literally stop – or even turn back – time, they’d do it! But, they’re almost as happy stealing America’s future while shoving the worst parts of our past down our collective throat.
A Great Idea Badly Executed
America remains a great idea badly executed. Had our founders gotten it right, they would have denied slavery a seat at the American table BECAUSE all people are created equal. But, alas, our founders succumbed to European Chauvinism. They really did think they were superior to everyone else.
It ain’t so!
As Europeans began to fill the Americas, they told told themselves that superior European ideas and technology had defeated the Natives. That’s twaddle! European pathogens wiped out 90% of the Native populations. Europeans strode onto a land mass de-populated by their European diseases and nothing more.
All Men Created Equal?
Had the nations of Europe had to face a fully populated, healthy Native American population, the Americas might still belong to the Native Americans. Certainly they’d have been better stewards of the land than white people have been.
While our founders may have written that “all men are created equal”, clearly, they didn’t mean it. Oh, they meant the men part all right. But they heavily parsed the “all” part.
By “all men” they meant only men like them: white, Christian, land owners.
Out Of Many, One
However our founders also made “E Pluribus Unum” our motto. Out of many, one. That was America’s lure and it’s what makes America truly exceptional. We are the first nation ever made up of all the other nations.
Originalism and originalists meanwhile insist that America can only ever be the exact country our flawed white founders founded. What a specious, dunderheaded, white argument!
To be fair though, innovation and new thinking terrifies conservatives. How can they not?
Why does anyone innovate anything? To solve a problem – usually one that old solutions aren’t solving anymore. But in order to innovate, conservatives would have to agree, first, that their old ways aren’t cutting it. That would burst their bubble. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the moment.
Meanwhile, conservatives have to rely on old thinking to solve their problems because innovating new solutions could so easily slop over into other areas.
Sure, try and solve new questions with old answers – but only at your peril.
The Supreme Court is giving us a good taste of the America conservatives would turn us into. Everyone not white is a provisional American at best. No one who isn’t conservative gets a say in anything. “Equality” is a marketing term meant to riff on our “color blindness”.
What do conservatives want to conserve? White corruption and empowerment. White wealth, too, of course. At its bottom line, conservatives want to conserve an America that really never was except in their own deeply disappointed fever dreams.