In the fourth paragraph of his excellent March 1 Open Forum “This Isn’t My Republican Party,” Mr. James Sherry lays out his conservative principles.
And as an unabashed liberal, I agree wholeheartedly with every one of them.
1) Limited government: I agree. The question is, “How limited?” Surely, government must play some role. I suspect that Mr. Sherry and I would debate how much government is too much, but we agree on the limited government premise.
2) Free-trade capitalism: I agree with the premise. I’m all for capitalism, but with limited, common sense and necessary restrictions, which we can debate.
3) Reducing the national debt and working toward a balanced budget: Agreed. But how much debt is too much? Let’s discuss.
4) Second Amendment rights, freedom of speech, freedom of (and from) religion: Agreed. But with sensible limits.
5) Equality of opportunity: Yes, for everyone. But equality is an aspiration that has not yet been realized in America. Shouldn’t a government that promises equality work to achieve it?
6) Individual responsibility: I’m all for being responsible and facing consequences — applied equitably to rich and poor, male and female, straight and gay, black and white, the powerful and the weak.
7) The rights of unborn human beings: Agreed. I don’t like abortion, either. But very often after “the unborn” become “the born” they also become the unhealthy and the unaffordable. So when parents can’t afford pre-natal care, hospital care, well-baby care, childcare; when they can’t afford health insurance; when they can’t take their kid to the doctor or dentist, what role should government have?
8) Family as the bedrock of decency: Agreed. I like family and I like decency. But as Mrs. Doubtfire said, “There are all sorts of different families.” Single parent families, blended families, mixed race families, families with two dads or two moms. They’re all families, and they can be as bedrock decent as any traditional mom and dad family.
9) Education as the key to individual success: Agreed. And individual success enriches society as a whole. Should government subsidize its citizens’ education as a wise investment in the nation’s future?
10) Sane and charitable immigration policy: Yes, sane because our nation needs immigrants for its economic well-being. And charitable, because immigrants are God’s children, too, and they’re here for the same reasons our own immigrant forefathers came here.
11) Voting as a civic duty: Agreed. And government has a responsibility to make legal voting as easy and accessible as possible for all citizens.
12) Color-blind justice: Agreed. Another as yet unrealized promise, and it’s government’s duty to fulfill it.
13) Rejection of hatred as a basis of policy: Agreed. And it’s fair to demand our government to examine its policies and root out bias.
Maybe Mr. Sherry, the conservative, is actually a liberal. Or maybe I, the liberal, am actually a conservative. Label us as you please, but we’re typical Americans who agree on the fundamentals. We just need to have a civil conversation about the details.