Ask anyone who disagrees with me: I'm a liberal.
No, I'm not actually a liberal. I generally refer to myself as a little-L libertarian, but even that isn't exactly accurate. If you want the exact term -- or at least as exact as a term can be in regard to my political positions -- I'm a constitutional minarchist.
I believe that the Constitution of the United States of America (the "supreme Law of the Land") is the greatest governing document ever devised in that the government created and limited by it exists solely to uphold individual liberty, individual responsibility and the harm principle. I believe that there is very little that the federal government (or any government) has the authority or right to do beyond fulfilling that charge. And I believe that, when the Constitution is adhered to, government succeeds in that goal.
In other words, I'm about as conservative as they come.
And yes, that does fall under the definition of "classical liberal," but we all know that's not what anyone means when they use the word "liberal" in the context of conservative United States politics. What they mean is that the person they're accusing of being a liberal is an anti-American anti-capitalist anti-gun anti-military anti-Christian Obama-loving Bush-bashing handout-seeking reverse-racist cop-hating homo-fascist commie pinko socialist who caves in to Muslims. In that order.
There's a line from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip that I frequently paraphrase to fit exactly this situation: if I had a penny for every time someone has incorrectly accused me of being a liberal, I could buy their house eight times and turn it into my ping-pong room.
That's through no fault of my own. My positions have been mostly solid since I was in high school... which was a good twelve years and counting ago (yeah, I know, I'm a just a kid). "Conservatism" in this country, on the other hand, has done nothing but devolve in that amount of time and longer. And I use sarcasm quotes there because "conservatism" today is not true conservatism. It's South Park conservatism.
Don't believe me? In any given Internet comment section, criticize any position taken by a "conservative." You will invariably receive this response from at least two people:
...and they're not saying it to be funny; they truly mean it. This is literally what "conservatism" has become in this country.
In fact, when it comes to the language used by the right these days, we truly are living in Nineteen Eighty-Four. "Small-government conservatism" means big-government liberalism with a different end goal than the Democrats. "Capitalism" means inverse fascism. "Security" means an invasive and unrestricted police state. "Religious freedom" means codified bigotry.
Even our own District 58 State Representative Eric Leutheuser introduced a bill -- the very first in his entire political career, and which has since been made law -- that is, in and of itself, a contradiction. It says that state funding cannot be withheld from any faith-based adoption agency on the basis of that agency's religious beliefs and practices. It then goes on to say that this law cannot be used to deny adoptions.
Yeah, don't hurt yourself trying to figure how one part doesn't negate the other. It's not worth it. Just accept it at face value and move on. Because war is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Amsoc is doubleplusgood. The NSA is watching you.
What this all comes down to is the difference between civil liberties and inherent human rights. They're not the same thing. Inherent human rights are inalienable. They are given by the Creator -- whoever or whatever that is in your belief system -- and consist of the freedom to do anything that does not bring harm to anyone else's person or property. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are the rights explicitly made law by government, and that's what makes violation of them a punishable crime.
The Constitution is meant to uphold inherent human rights through limiting government, and the Bill of Rights was added to name several civil liberties which the government has no authority to impede. But the right wing no longer recognizes those facts. They now believe that our civil liberties are the only human rights we have, and that they're granted by the Constitution rather than being endowed upon us by the Creator.
Just ask your average Republican about their opinion on same-sex marriage. They'll talk about how those who fall under their derisive term of choice -- anything from "the left" to "the LGBT mafia" -- have "redefined marriage" and how "tradition" should have been upheld, that "activist judges" or "five lawyers in black robes" decided to "legislate from the bench," and that "the will of the people" has been violated.
And then there's the line we all know and loath: "show me where marriage is mentioned in the Constitution."
None of this, of course, is at all correct. Even if marriage had been redefined (it wasn't), it wouldn't be the first time, even within the Judeo-Christian tradition. And tradition is not what the law exists to uphold -- a point that the Supreme Court has correctly made several times. Activist judges do, by definition, legislate from the bench, but that didn't happen on June 26th; the court very clearly (and, again, correctly) ruled on constitutional grounds that marriage is an inherent right regardless of sex or gender, and the will of the people does not trump inherent rights.
And while marriage is not mentioned, the Supremacy Clause makes it absolutely clear that no law at any level overrides the Constitution or federal laws directly relating to it. Since state bans on same-sex marriage violate two Constitutional clauses, both of which uphold inherent human rights, those bans are null and void. They were neither legal nor lawful to begin with.
Modern-day "conservatives" have no arguments against any of these facts. They'll simply tell you that "you've been brainwashed" and that if you believe any of that, "you're not a real conservative."
Barry Goldwater is sitting in Heaven right now shaking his head and saying "I told you so."
But that's just one issue. Let's talk about the War on Drugs. "Conservatives" love the War on Drugs. It's a big money-maker for government and police departments. Don't get me wrong, civil asset forfeiture is a major problem, too, but if you want to talk about insane confiscation of private property for no valid reason, the drug war is where it's at. Not to mention the destroyed lives and the rise of ever more harmful synthetics... not because of drug use, but because of its criminalization. All in the name of "public safety" and "morality."
And what about the relation of the drug war to border security? Did you really believe that all that outrage over Fast & Furious was genuine? Haha! Oh, you poor fool. All those politicians calling out Obama and Holder were only doing it because it made for good partisan politics. Gunwalking was nothing new; it had supposedly started in 2006 under President Bush, and "conservatives" were more than happy to go along with it, because it grew government in the way they liked.
I say "supposedly" because that's the earliest date the investigation learned of. Trust me, plenty of people knew it had been going on well before this scandal went public, and I think it's pretty safe to say that the practice had been taking place long before 2006.
While we're on the subject, how about border security and illegal immigration? Let's ignore the blatant racism that the right makes a pathetic attempt to hide and talk about real solutions. In addition to increasing protections against criminals and terrorists, let's talk about making legal immigration into this country a far more reasonable and welcoming process.
"Gasp! We can't do that!" say "conservatives."
"Because... well, we just can't!"
"Because... because... you just don't want any borders at all, you anti-American liberal!"
That's not what I said at all.
"I bet you voted for Obama!"
No, I voted for Gary Johnson.
You see, in every which way, "conservatism" has been twisted and perverted into everything that true conservatism is not. In modern "conservatism," social tradition takes priority, and anything that may threaten the "conservative" ideal of what the world should look like is deemed "liberalism" and a menace. Racism, nationalism, hatred toward religious and sexual minorities, and an almost fanatical devotion to the practice of making tax cuts without any corresponding cuts in spending... these are all core tenets of modern "conservatism."
This is not true conservatism in any way whatsoever. It's right-liberalism. The left-liberals are just as bad, they simply have different reasons for doing all the same things... and they're slightly more honest about it.
See, true conservatism is called conservatism -- at least in the United States -- because we true conservatives hold to the principles of individual liberty and small government that our founders fought for. We seek to conserve our inherent human rights. Liberalism is called liberalism -- in that same geocentric context -- because liberals believe that government can be grown and used for the benefit of the people (which has repeatedly been disproven). They espouse a liberal use of state authority.
Meanwhile, "conservatives" claim that they stand for small government while at the same time using government to enforce their socially traditional values.
Again, don't hurt yourself trying to figure out how one doesn't negate the other.
To be a true conservative is to acknowledge that we don't have the authority, through government or any other means, to prevent people from doing what they want to do as long as their action doesn't harm anyone else or anyone else's property. That doesn't mean that we have to give up on social traditions, it simply means that if someone else wants to give them up and it doesn't bring about harm to others, you can't stop them.
And more importantly, they can't stop you.
That's individual liberty. That's individual responsibility.
That's true conservatism.