In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must finally drag myself out of the closet and ‘fess up what recent events have made oh so obvious. After decades thinking of myself as a decidedly middle of the road liberal, recent events have forced this realization on me: I am a conservative
I come from Wisconsin, once known as a progressive bastion. Robert M. LaFollette, the U.S. senator who once had a shot at the presidency, the great grandpappy of “Progressivism,” started his political career as district attorney in my hometown. I was one proud 13-year-old when I had a chance to shake hands with presidential candidate John F. Kennedy who went on to win the state’s primary and then the presidency.
Later, as a reporter, I covered a lot of presidential candidates and wannabes who regularly descended on the state. In hindsight, this was before the discovery of “fake news” as a cudgel with which to beat the media for reporting negative but true stories.
In hindsight, I’ve worked with a lot of reporters and editors and with only a couple of exceptions, they’ve taken a good deal of professional pride in leaving their personal opinions home and delivering straight news to their readers and viewers.
So what prompted this profound personal realization?
As some would immediately guess, the presidency of Donald J. Trump had a lot to do with this. My head hurts when he is to this day regularly described as “conservative.” In New York for many years Trump was identified as a Democrat, but that’s in the cynical New York sense of giving big bucks to the dominant party candidates. Quid pro quo. Anything I heard over the years about the man suggested he was anything but a liberal or a conservative, but a rich guy focused on getting richer without regard to the means of doing so.
And that’s before all the things that should have been put out there by the New York media years ago started coming to light. I am not talking about the things being investigated by Robert Mueller, but the obvious facts that should have been laid before voters in 2016, but that Trump’s public relations efforts over the years obscured. I fault the local media there for not getting the story earlier that this self-proclaimed highly successful businessman in fact was fueled for years by hundreds of millions by his father which he proceeded to blow as he presided over multiple casino bankruptcies and failed enterprises. Raise your glass of Trump vodka to celebrate your graduation from Trump University!
Is a man with two failed marriages and multiple affairs requiring bribes to silence mistresses as well a propensity to brag about it conservative? I would have expected the much vaunted Evangelicals to jump ship over this, but it sure hasn’t happened. How about unprecedented, well documented, constant lying? Is this now preached as a virtue from fundamentalist pulpits?
In office, Trump has brought in a cast of grifters and con-artists that would have embarrassed President Richard M. Nixon (Watergate) and President Warren G. Harding (Teapot Dome). Anyone who watches this circus and regards this as conservative (or normal) has lost their mind in my humble opinion.
Fiscal conservatism? Check out the federal deficit that Trump’s Republican party created through last year’s tax cut.
Over the years I watched Wisconsin’s polluted rivers get cleaned up due to bipartisan efforts. The state’s ousted Republican governor Scott Walker did his damndest to undo the environmental efforts of the past and that’s been a template for what Trump is trying to do nationally, though fortunately the court system has at least slowed this down. The objective is really to further enrich those who profit from fouling the environment. That’s sure not conservative. It’s really corruption in action.
I would question the sanity of anyone living on a Pacific island who has serious questions about global warming at this late date. We’re seeing the evidence every day that it’s a reality and to me, moving to deal with it is a rational choice, regarding whether you view yourself as a liberal or a conservative.
The passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush also prompted some further thought. Eulogies for Bush reminded us that he was basically a decent guy who treated people in a civil fashion. I had my differences with him, notably over his inaction at the height of the AIDS crisis, but I witnessed others who avoided this due to legitimate if cowardly fear over its political impact on them. While in the heat of a campaign he cried “no new taxes,” he later faced reality and the political damage to do what needed to be done to run the government. Can you imagine Donald Trump doing such a thing?
So to me, civility to others, protecting and cleaning up the environment and an overall commitment to run an honest government not dedicated to feathering the nest of friends and family define conservatism. I don’t detect these things in Donald Trump or the current GOP, so I’m claiming the conservative mantle for myself.
Bruce Lloyd is the associate editor of the Pacific Island Times. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org