Michael J. Totten writes on the difference between conservatives and liberals. Fine article, many truths, yadda yadda. There's just one problem: his concept of liberals as "builders" vs. conservatives as "preservers."
I don't have a problem with the latter: I also have this idea of the stereotypical conservative as being rather like the Old Took holed up in his increasingly shabby hobbit hole, "...a huge place, where the furniture has never been moved or changed for generations."1 But the idea of liberals as "builders" makes me want to laugh. Most liberals, or the people calling themselves such, certainly like to think of themselves as builders (they'd probably say "architects of the future" or something grand-sounding like that). But they are builders in the way my dad was handy around the house.
I will illustrate: we lived in an old (for Miami) house that my father was always tinkering with, "fixing" stuff. That was why the place I grew up in was always falling apart -- that and the termites. One day they decided to turn our little-used dining room into a bedroom for me. I wanted bookshelves, so my father bought some planks and nailed them to the wall. There was no fitting, no brackets, none of that stuff. After a few years, I was propping up the lower shelves with old encyclopedias, and every once in a while I had to hammer some of the shelves back in place. They sagged in the middle (where I had run out of old encyclopedias). And so on.
What liberals are is a high-caste version of the "idea man" of Madison Avenue fame. They sit around in taverns and classrooms making up grand schemes to improve the world, plans that work out great on paper but are easily defeated by the real world much as my bookshelves were defeated by gravity.
In the meantime, while the liberals are fucking up in grand style and the conservatives (like me) are huddling behind their piles of moldy books containing millions of facts that liberals are too busy to deal with, the bulk of humanity that is neither one nor the other -- the ordinary folk that all the liberals are so busy trying to "help" and all the conservatives are eyeing with suspicion -- are actually doing the stuff that needs to be done. Neither ideological group likes the ordinary people very much, because they aren't really interested in the Important Things, like politics and ideology and arguing over same. (I think this is why many conservatives, and most liberals, hate George W. Bush. He's one of the ordinary, not-interested-in-your-philosophy, do-stuff people who somehow made good and got put in charge. That's not supposed to happen.)
1. The Two Towers.Posted by Andrea Harris at May 8, 2003 12:59 AM