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A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Conservative Politics are Often Maladaptive (Or Why I Stopped Being Politically Conservative)

Conservative ideals are often framed in terms of family values, upholding tradition, not compromising traditional liberties, and the like. Many people hold these ideals, regardless of race, gender, cultural background, occupation or sexual orientation. And they are noble ideals! Who wouldn't want healthier families and strong traditions?

And then there is conservative politics, an attempt in translating some of those values into policies. The results are often ineffective, sometimes counter productive, and usually in violation of the principles of good government. For example, restrictions against abortion lead to an industry of backyard abortions, and the 'safe, legal and rare' position is much better. Combine that with adequate social welfare for single parents and struggling families, and I believe abortion rates will dramatically decrease. But no, in order to conserve the past which did not have a welfare state, Western conservative politics demand that no such welfare be provided. Another example is marriage equality. It is the best chance for a new generation of gay and lesbian couples to experience the value of permanent, lifelong commitment. However, conservative politics is again too often about just clinging onto the past, whatever the outcome. A great opportunity to promote and revive marriage is thus wasted. In fact, much of conservative politics, both economically and socially, is all about being rigid about rules from the past. It should really be called 'deliberately maladaptive politics', if anything.

Conservative politics is in essence lazy thinking. The solution to everything is just to turn back the clock, without regard for actual consequences. There's no critical thinking about if particular policies are good for families or good for liberty in actual result. Even if a policy is clearly bad for families and brings our traditions into disrepute with younger generations, conservative politicians often don't care about it. Results don't seem to matter too much with them. Times change, and we have to be adaptive. The only way to work for healthier families and strong traditions is to work for these goals within the context of the present, where a slightly different approach may be needed compared with what worked in the past. This is the biggest blind spot of conservative politics, and what makes it such a failure when it comes to results.

Instead of supporting conservative politics, I suggest that traditionalists simply work towards better outcomes for families and a stronger guarantee for liberties, with everyone else in society. In a society where this is the case, there would be plenty of room for a conservative lifestyle, and to promote traditionalist culture. It surely would be much more satisfying than engaging in maladaptive 'conservative politics', right?