Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Conscience of a Conservative

Me, Myself, and I -- very much "at home" in Beaver County, PA

A liberal reader of mine from eastern PA (I live in western PA) wrote me a long, mostly autobiographical e-mail asking why I -- living in a supposedly semi-distressed area of Beaver County -- believed generally in conservative principles. He (?) also asked me if I voted for GWB and Rick Santorum (our former Republican Senator). I replied at length, focusing mainly on why I oppose Obama and support McCain. In case you've been wondering about similar things, here's my reply:

Did I vote for GWB? Only twice. I think highly of him and his family.

Did I support Rick Santorum? I supported him when he ran the first time in 1994 against Harris Wofford, who was a man of extremely limited talents. I voted for him when he ran against Ron Klink (2000), but I always had problems with Santorum as a person. I can support individuals of various views -- I might vote for Specter in the primary and general election -- but I do want to see in any candidate signs of real affection for our diverse and sometimes irritating fellow human beings. Over the years, I started to see less and less of that in Santorum (whom I know but not really well).

Senator Bob Casey: I don't believe he is a honest man. If he's so ardently pro-life, which I don't for a minute think he is, why did he support the most pro-abortion candidate in American history: Barack Obama? This is not an issue of whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, but rather a question of basic honesty. I didn't like the Santorum-Casey choice, and I wasn't at all surprised when the electorate sent Rick on his way. My wife despises Santorum.

I believe most people can rationalize endlessly when it comes to political choices. I don't do a lot of rationalizing. For example, do you believe Rev. Wright's views really came as a surprise to Barack Obama after he spent 20 years listening to Wright's views? If your answer is "no," then of course you would have trouble voting for Obama (although you might do so).

There, I just screwed up any serenity you might have about voting for Obama. (It's what I do.)

Beaver County: I believe its future over the next generation can be very bright. There is good public transportation in the country and back-and-forth from Pittsburgh. The people here are generally wonderful. I have Black neighbors on both sides of our (modest) house -- we live right across from Ambridge H.S. Everything I need (almost) is within walking distance. It surely isn't suburban, affluent, but for our purposes it's a great place to live.

Members of my family, including two daughters, are like the many people who voted in the Primary, and thus opted for Sen. Clinton. I voted for John McCain in the Republican Primary.

The folks here in small-town Beaver County are not the "bitter" people that Obama described as clinging to religion, guns, racism, and xenophobia. (Yes, those are the people whose votes he now covets.) Obama knows nothing about the people in Beaver County or the many similar counties in PA, OH, IN.

His foreign policy adviser (Samantha Power), the one who called Hillary a "monster," also called the people of Ohio (I mean almost all of them) "obsessed." I don't know exactly what she meant, but I think it was a forerunner of the bitter comments.

Generally, I'd call the "race relations" here in this county very good. They are a whole lot better than what exists in Obama's Chicago area, such as Cicero, which MLK described as the worst he ever saw.

Philosophically, my problem with liberalism is that it preaches collective responsibility while denying the existence of individual responsibility. It's a view that makes no sense. How are we to take care of others if we can't take care of ourselves?

People who absolutely can't take care of themselves should receive help from those who can provide it. My wife has been disabled since 1991, but she does a great job of taking care of herself -- with some assistance from me and a daughter and some from Social Security/Medicare.

Many years ago I had a girlfriend in my single days. She told my mother (an artist and writer), "Oh, Mrs. Maloney, Steve and I will always take care of you." My mother said, "C, I think I'd prefer to take care of myself." The girlfriend was something of a legendary Democratic political figure in the Pittsburgh area. We eventually parted ways.

I haven't answered all your questions, but I've tried to be as candid as I can. Of course, I've also been challenging your beliefs, which is the way I conduct my life. As I suggested earlier, several of the members of my immediate family voted either for Mrs. Clinton or Sen. Obama (in various primaries).

The children are a very diverse group, and that's fine with me.

I spend a whole lot of my time "campaigning" (mostly online) for Senator McCain and others in whom I believe. I very much fear an Obama presidency because of his weakness and self-absorption. I read a while back that 20% of Democrats are rooting for the U.S. to lose the war in Iraq. I believe much of Obama's financial support comes from that group -- and Daily Kos types.

I am going to be writing this week about some of the comments in my "Black Conservatives" group. A big issue there is whether Obama's policies would help or hurt the Black community. I may send you one or two of the pieces I'll be using.

Sometimes policies designed to "help" people end up hurting them unintentionally. For example, the welfare policies of the Great Society ended up providing economic incentives for families to splt up. Thus, we now have twice as many single-mother Black families (percentage basis) as we did a generation ago. Obama alluded to this in his Father's Day speech but didn't seem to grasp exactly what had happened.

As bright as he appears sometimes, Obama is generally clueless about his own country.

As for me: To paraphrase Albert Camus' description of Sisyphus, "one must imagine Steve happy." I hope you and yours also are.

Steve Maloney
Ambridge, PA

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