Friday, April 30, 2010

"Coming Out"

Don’t tell my wife.

Nah, it’s okay. She already knows.

I guess I’ve always known too. Deep down. I just couldn’t face the truth.

But, you know, the pressure builds up inside you, and it has to come out, the consequences be damned.

I’m about to make a confession I have never dared to say out loud before. Deep breath, and here we go:

I’m a conservative.

Oh. I feel better now. Look, I’m smiling. And why not? I am finally free.

Let me say it again.

I’m a conservative!

Ooh, the exhilaration! Gosh amighty! I’m out and I’m lovin’ it!

A careful observer would have spotted the telltale “giveaways”, subtle chinks in my liberal orthodoxy. I’d say “black” instead of “African-American.” I’d say “Indian.” And I’d never feel guilty. (Because my intentions were benign.)

In my writing, I refuse to say “his or her”; I say “their.” “His or her” is an insult to rhythm. “Their” says it all. In a single syllable.

My personal character screams conservatism. With my money, I insist on a conservative investment strategy, wishing only to keep up with inflation. And a tiny bit more.

I’m a conservative dresser. Corduroy goes in and out of fashion. I’ve worn it continually for years.

I’m conservative in my eating habits. When I’ve had my fill, though there’s still plenty left on my plate, I stop. I’m also a coffee-drinking conservative. No more than one cup a day. And when frequenting my favorite coffee emporium, no “Bitch’s Brew” – too strong – no “Angel City?” – dish water. Shunning the extremes, I choose “Venice Blend.” An unswervingly conservative selection.

I’m a cowboy fan. Cowboys live by conservative values. It’s in their “creed.” Honestly. Loyalty. Fair play. Courage. Trustworthiness. Respect for all people, and for the land.

I admire the cowboys, and the values they hold dear.

Who wouldn’t?

I support health care for everyone, because you shouldn’t have to go broke, because you or a loved one happened to get sick. I’m against capital punishment, because, matters of life and death are God’s business, not ours. And if you’ve got more money than you need, what’s the problem in sharing some of it with the poor?

Maybe it’s ‘cause I’m new to conservatism, but I really don’t see the conflict.

Not long ago, I took an Extension class at UCLA called “The History of the American Right.” I realize taking one class doesn’t make me an expert. I believe eight classes make you an expert.

Yes, I’m kidding. Conservatives can kid.

I can truthfully say that that class really opened my eyes. For the first time, I identified with conservatives.

They sounded like me.

Most significantly, the class introduced me to Edmund Burke, an eighteenth century thinker, honored as one of the Founding Fathers of conservatism. Burke believed you acted conservatively by being thoughtful and deliberate in your decision-making.

In a phrase, we’re talking “Hold your horses.”

Edmund Burke believed in change. Not the inevitability of change – “It’s coming, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” Burke believed change was natural and desirable. Though he opposed the

“What do we want?”

“Change!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!’

type of thinking,

Burke stood equally against the

“What don’t we want?”

“Change!’

“When don’t we want it?”

“Ever!”

point of view.

As a conservative, Burke eschewed the extremes, favoring

“What do we want?”

“Change.”

“How do we want it?”

“Thoughtfully and deliberately.”

With no exclamation points.

I guess anyone has a right to define what “conservative” means. And there’s no rule saying the belief system can’t re-configure itself over time. (The faction who once championed Prohibition were the liberals.) The problem for me is, as of now, I have no ideological home.

I can’t join today’s conservatives, because they seem a long way from “thoughtful and deliberate.” However, if they ever decide to return to conservatism’s earliest principles, despite the insults and abuse that are certain to come my way,

I may very well join up.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

So...you won't be guest hosting for Glenn Beck anytime soon?

A. Buck Short said...

I think for “his or her,” maybe a true conservative uses “his?”

My actual last name is Burke – no it’s not “Buck Burke”; that’s the sound it makes when you accidentally break wind in the bathtub. So I also tried to model my philosophy after one. Regrettably, due to a search engine error, I chose William Burke, who, with his partner in crime William Hare were notorious procurers of cadavers for medical science in 19th century Edinburg (17 at last count). You may be familiar with this dynamic duo played by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in Robert Wise’s 1940’s film, “The Body Snatchers.” An eponymous black comedy on the pair’s escapades and high jinks directed by John Landis is due for release later this year. John Landis meets the Coen Bros. (“The Two Amigos?”)

Burke was later hung, on the technicality that virtually all of the cadavers sold to the medical schools that weren’t simply grave-harvested hadn’t actually been cadavers yet at their time of procurement. Thus the genesis of the verb “to Burke,” in England still meaning to smother to death – which allowed the merchandise to have been delivered almost totally unblemished.

Always the showman, Burke is said to have drawn a crowd of 40,000 for his own demise, many standing all night in the cold rain for an optimal venue, and he drew a standing ovation from the festive onlookers in the last act. (At the time, minions conducting a similar vigil for Streisand tickets were said to have numbered only in the triple digits.) Hare got off with a plea after turning state’s evidence. Bump bum!

In an act of inspired irony, Burke’s own body was then donated to science. Another large mob of nonmedical students threatened to storm the anatomy class, where the perp’s head was being sawed in half the following day, if they were not also permitted to view the celebrated body. Talk about your tough crowd; I wanna tell ya’. An accommodation, was made with the next day having been designated the equivalent of Casual Friday, where the general public was allowed to pass through, according to the written testimony of an eyewitness at the rate of something like 60 per minute.

Some of the students apparently pilfered pieces of the man’s skin from the dissection table, and had it tanned, according to the same reports of the day. (They want you to take ‘em, it’s good publicity.) One of these was eventually sold to a professor, going on display at the university’s anatomical museum, gold-embossed, “Burke’s Skin 1829,” which sounds a little too much like Buck’s Skin – thereby mocking me twice.

Once told I had the body of a dancer, I was forced to reply, "Yes, but unfortunately, I have it bricked up in the basement behind my workbench.

JED said...

Earl, I think today's post would make an excellent post on a political blog. You've combined your humor with a good point. I remember hearing how Ronald Reagan justified his switching from the Democratic Party (he may have said "Democrat" in the quote) to the Republican Party (pointedly NOT calling it the Publican Party) because his old party had changed and he didn't like what it had changed into. This is my paraphrase of what he actually said and I take full responsibility for putting that preposition at the end of the sentence.

By cleverly pointing out some inconsistencies, you make people think about things they would normally take for granted. Isn't that what good political writing is all about?

Jim Dodd

diane said...

I was also thinking that this blog post would be excellent for a political website. One of the joys of reading your blog is your ability to challenge my thinking and make me laugh at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Earl, bravo for you. It feels like everyone in the entertainment industry is labeled a racist, homophobe, or misogynist if they don't automatically get in line with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. My biggest fear with Health Care Reform was not the reform or its purpose but the lack of deliberation. It felt like there was more emotional appeal being made than rational appeal.

Blitzen said...

This is exactly the reason political party boundaries are not the determining factor for a person's personality. Very few people fit the two extremes, with the majority fitting somewhere in between. Unfortunately the people on the ends don't always see it that way.

growingupartists said...

You've never admitted you were rich until lately either. Making progress.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Earl! Getting up to speed is easy -- listen to Dennis Prager daily on KRLA, read the National Review and the Weekly Standard and never miss a word out of Charles Krauthammer's or Thomas Sowell's mouths. And fear not, there are more of us than you know, and we're all pretty nice. ;)

You put such a smile on my face! (and not for the first time in this blog)

Ger Apeldoorn said...

You did it again.

“What do we want?”

“Change.”

“How do we want it?”

“Thoughtfully and deliberately.”

A classic bit.

sanford said...

Anonymous said...

My biggest fear with Health Care Reform was not the reform or its purpose but the lack of deliberation. It felt like there was more emotional appeal being made than rational appeal.

Every president since at least Teddy Roosevelt and maybe before has mentioned health care. As far as I know though, Clinton was really the first president to try and come up with a health care program. As far as the current health care program, , that has been Obama's number one objective since the day he took office. Exactly how much deliberation is necessary. This isn't something that congress deliberated for two weeks and then took a vote.

The problem with the health care debate, like most things in politics had to do with money. The simplest thing would have been to let every body get medicare. That would have cut out the insurance companies and most of the cost that is involved with health care.

A. Buck Short said...

I've read and fully appreciate some of the comments, even when I'm not convinced of the entire extrapolation. Earl, as a personal favor to some of us, would you please strongly consider going half way back in?

Brian said...

Loved your blog today, Earl. It actually reminded of my own rallying cry during our strike. "What do we want?" "A Fair Deal". "When Do We Want It?"... "Reasonably soon". And no, I was never selected to be a Strike Captain.