Vegetables Or Candy? Conservatism Or Liberalism?
At first glance the choice between vegetables or candy would seem to have nothing to do with politics let alone conservative or liberal policies. Yet, this question goes far in answer a common conservative complaint: Why are people more willing to accept liberal policies and principles rather than conservative ones? After all, history has shown time and again that conservative principles breed success, wealth, and improved living standards. Liberal policies, on the other hand, have been proven to be incompatible with healthy and wealthy societies in terms of long-term prosperity. Yet, time and again liberal policies sway voters in favor of liberal politicians, conservative policies and principles, on the other hand, are looked upon by many in society as hateful, uncaring, and dangerous. How can this apparent paradox exist?
Giving this problem much thought I began to recollect my childhood and I remember two distinct types of parenting among my friend's parents. The first I call the "democratic candy crew." They look at parenting as a chance to befriend their child. This bonding process took the form of democratic election inside the household on any decision that impacted the child's life. One child, one vote was the common mantra. The only problem was that the flip side was one parent, one vote.
So in effect, it was a microcosm of the American form of government with the separation of powers into three branches each keeping each other in check. Unfortunately, instead of the normal Executive, Legislative, and Judicial it was Parentative, Childtative, and Canineitive. After all, what right is it of human beings to give dogs food they don't like? With the power structure in the house divided, and the parents looking to be their child's best friend the power structure tended to sway into the favor of the Childtative branch of the household. Therefore, there was no real choice, when it came to dinner, between vegetables or candy. In order to maintain a good friendship and protect the integrity of the carefully nurtured household democracy the obvious choice was candy. After all, it was much friendlier to give way to the immature desires of their children and maintain the present friendship than to correct the child's behavior for dividends that would pay off at a later date. It is no wonder that these households were the favorite place for us kids from the more dictatorial types of households to hang out.
The other type of household--the one I was bound to--was more along the lines of a Stalinist dictatorship where complete and ultimate authority reigned supreme in the body of one being, my mother. There was no cultivation of friendship, no choice between vegetables or candy. It was vegetables or the gulags. Where, admittedly, I spent more than a few hungry nights crying after challenging the Tsar's authority. The spectacle of crying and hungry children sentenced to the gulags of our rooms was more than some of my visiting family members, of the "democratic candy crew" variety, could handle.
The sight, to them, was more like a Stalinist purge than a gulag sentence for corrective thinking. "Give the child food," they would say chiding my mother for, what in their eyes, was her utterly cruel behavior. They pleaded with my mother to feed as anything just as long as we were fed. The ideas that my mother was teaching us, through her "cruel" behavior, were lost upon these family members. Her get-tough policies that taught us first-hand that doing what feels good is not necessarily the right path to choose were truly a blessing. Her strict authoritarian style was in all actuality the greatest form of love she could bestow upon us.
A parent's job is not to befriend their children and be buddy-buddy with them. A parent's job is to teach a child proper moral behavior and to lay the foundations to cultivate responsibility which will in turn lead to a happier and fuller life with a greater chance of success.
Liberal principles and policies very closely resemble the "Democratic Candy Crew's" philosophy of parenting. The give-away style of governance that focuses on the redistribution of wealth so that everybody gets their "fair share" and the utter erosion of responsibility that such concepts entail, are a perfect illustration of these Candy Crew principles. Therefore, when a conservative puts forth his philosophy of responsibility and proper moral behavior the liberal product of the Democratic Candy Crew principles will shriek back from the evil he sees before him and demand his candy, which is, in his mind, his just due.
For the vast majority of Americans who are politically uneducated liberal policies are akin to candy for a child. They do not understand the consequences but it sure tastes good.
Therein lies the disadvantage conservatives face when confronting candy-toting liberals. Unfortunately, there is no sweetener for vegetables and if there were it would rob it of its primary function, that of instilling values in our youth. The vegetables tell an all-important truth, however bland that may be: that which feels good is not necessarily so. After all, candy does rot your teeth.