The conservatives in America are frustrated and angry about many things as demonstrated by Donald Trump’s remarks about American loss of power and security. They cannot be blamed for being angry, but they have all the wrong ideas and solutions. The conservatives mostly want to turn back the clock rather than recognizing and adapting to the new realities.
The conservative mindset essentially involves protecting and maintaining the status quo. Strangely, it excludes protecting the environment where business only knows how to exploit and dump its wastes. In a fast-changing world where existing structures and conventions are breaking down, conservatism seems untenable unless it embraces progress. The changing tides are like ocean waves pounding the shores. Pushing back is futile.
Who tend to be more conservative in thinking? The rich and powerful are usually conservative because they have more material things to protect such as their commercial profitability and privileges. Therefore being rich and being conservative are hard to separate. Due to the intimate attachment to money making, conservative ideas mainly revolve around three motives: cutting taxes, minimum government regulations, and limited access to opportunities by others. In other words, let the strong eat the weak in an unfettered capitalist system of trickle-down economics. The government should stay out unless it can be bent or bribed to help the rich rather than the whole country.
American policies are characterized by its entrenched conservative commercial interests. The following facts are evident: It took a civil war to abolish slavery on which the Southern economy depended heavily. State-supported racial discrimination continued in the South until being made illegal a century later. Major reforms in immigration, health care and the financial sector are constantly being vilified and obstructed by big business which thinks that reforms will bring decreasing profits. Finally, foreigners are puzzled why America wastes precious resources to fight dumb wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and potentially in Iran unless they see that its weapons industries are owned by private companies, not by the government. Money always triumphs over the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
As a consequence, most Americans suffer economic insecurity in the face of job outsourcing, stagnant wages, and rising costs in health care, housing and college tuition. The gap between the top 1% and the rest are widening. The American Dream is vanishing. This is a prescription for social instability. However, conservative ideas still have a significant following due to their twisted simplicity. For instance, tax cuts to create jobs, dumb wars to protect freedom, a wall to discourage immigration, no government intervention in health care to preserve profiteering, and climate change being a hoax. All of the above can be explained realistically by one simple motive – more profits for the rich.
Why are the conservatives so angry? Their wrong ideas and solutions have led to the following:
A black President was elected in 2008 in the depth a financial crisis, and re-elected in 2012 with near-landslide majority after they had tried so hard to topple him. Trump even alleged Obama was not US-born.
The Republican Party that represents conservatism is struggling to broaden its appeal among women, minorities and young people in general. They have to shed their image of “angry white men” as urged by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Health care reform known as Obamacare was passed and twice ruled legal by the US Supreme Court. The Republicans have stubbornly tried to repeal it in Congress over 40 times but in vain. At present 16.4 million people have enrolled in Obamacare. Should the Republicans succeed in repealing it, could they afford to lose 16.4 million votes in future elections? Bear in mind that George W. Bush won the presidency in the year 2000 by merely 500 votes in Florida after the US Supreme Court intervened on their side.
Apart from their simplistic ideas, the demographics in the US do not favor the conservatives due to the rising number of Latino voters in many key states. Besides, the conservative older voters are gradually giving way to younger ones who tend to have a liberal bent.
Finally, Mother Nature is not on their side. Climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels is real. Even if they close their eyes and mind, they can still feel the heat.