Frank Schaeffer: I’m Now a ‘Liberal’ Because I’m a Conservative

January 7th, 2010 by Andy in Conservative / Liberal - What Do They Mean

This is an interesting piece from a former member of the so-called “Christian Right” and his take on what has become of the modern conservatism. Here are just a couple of the more provocative and salient points from this insightful essay…

I grew up in a fundamentalist missionary family that in the 1970s and 80s morphed into my father’s activity as one of the founders of the Religious Right. We would hobnob with Republican leaders from Ronald Reagan to Gerald Ford and the Bush family, Jack Kemp and many others.


“Conservative” means that you believe it’s right to legalize torture, but reject health care for all.

These days to be a conservative means that you hate the United States government elected by the people; believe that if millions of citizens are out of work that it’s their own fault and that the rest of the community should not help them by spending tax dollars; think that Sarah-believes-in-casting-out-demons-before-she-ran-for-gov- ernorship-Palin speaks for you. To be a conservative means you believe that healthcare reform will lead to “death panels”; that the president of the United States is not a “real American”; that a university education is a dangerous thing; that Americans who live in big cities are less American than those who live in small towns; that brown people, blacks, progressive whites, gays, public school teachers, Hispanics, immigrants, are somehow conspiring to subvert the “real America” with a “gay agenda” or a “Muslim agenda” or at least the browning of “our” white America.

In other words to be a conservative today is to be an anti-American, nihilistic libertarian know-nothing who believes in unregulated consumerism and the theology of dominion, and the Rapture that many conservatives also subscribe to along with such “facts” as that Obama is the — literal! — Antichrist.

Other than trying to stop women from having abortions and fighting the whole world, our “terrorist enemies”, in other words everyone “not like us”, conservatism today is nothing more than a pent up reaction against everything “we” don’t understand — like art, literature, government, history, geography, diversity, how people get to be gay, black or female… things like that.

Conservatism today is actually not for anything. It is just against everyone but “us” and a few like us bound together by an alternative reality, otherwise known as Fox/NRA/Beck/Palin/Jesus’s Return–”News.”

The irony is that conservatives used to wrap themselves in the American flag and belonging to a cause built on higher ideals than pure selfishness and individual choice. Patriotism was based on principle, not fear and anger. Conservatism led by people such as the late William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and others had its feet firmly planted in what it regarded as the reality-based community as opposed to liberal wishful thinking about progress coming from government, human nature, etc.


What is the conservative movement today, and/or the Republican Party?

It’s about as far away from conservatism as it can get. It is a party ready to trash its own country in support of nihilistic, selfish market-driven “values” the very opposite of conservative values of family, community and stability. It is in fact what conservatives of the 60s said the hippies were: selfish brats with no sense of responsibility to anyone. It’s also a party of armed revolution not so subtly egging on its lunatic fringe to commit violence. It applauds white rubes who show up at public meetings carrying a loaded assault weapons “to make a point” and signs reminiscent of Timothy McVeigh and his famous T-shirt; “the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants” and the like are held up by Murdoch/Beck/Fox and company — those profiteers off the unregulated market — as paragons of good sense and free enterprise and gun rights.


Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism).

Read the full article originally posted on The Brad Blog

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