Socially Liberal & Economically Conservative

I am not a registered Democrat, but I have voted Democrat in almost every election since the first time I voted in…I think Bush v Gore? Was that the first time I voted? Why do I not remember this anymore? Memory sucks, y’all. The older I get the more I learn that memories a) can not be trusted and b) fade without warning.

I remind you of this so you understand how left I lean. As if there was any doubt. I’m actually probably more left-leaning/liberal/progressive than most registered Democrats, to be honest. I’d probably fall more in line with a Democratic Socialist but so many people are scared of the S-word in any context that I would hesitate to use that term in casual conversation EVEN THOUGH MANY OF US PROBABLY FALL INTO THAT CATEGORY.

As it’s election season right now, I hear a lot of people who don’t lean as far left as I do, pontificate on the issues of Social Liberalism v/s Economic Conservatism. You know, people who think Trans people deserve civil rights but who maybe also believe that giving tax breaks to the rich and to big businesses will give those businesses and people more money to create more jobs and therefore the money will trickle down to help everyone else. This is often the specifics called out in this type of voter. “I am an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, but I think Conservative Economic policy is better for our country.”  Those people seem to be torn often in how to vote when it comes to representation in Congress. And of course, I’m going to want them to lean liberal/left towards their “social liberalism” mindset but I thought I’d at least try to explain why in a way other than: LEFT IS BEST!

I’m keeping this REALLY simple. I’m not pontificating beyond what the current administration has done targeting the LGBTQ communities even though I’m worried about how bad it can get. And I’m not going to take the “attack route” by targeting the Economically Conservative side of this voting conundrum. I could, but I’m not going to cite reading and research that shows why many don’t think Conservative economic plans work. You can google that if you want on your own. Instead, I’m going to talk about social issues related to how this administration has treated LGBTQ+ people and how that can play out in our near future. 

If people who are Economically Conservative but Social Liberal vote for their Economic beliefs (Republican), and let’s say it’s successful (again – I do not support Conservative economic plans so I do not think it would be successful but we’re using our imagination here) and we get this stable economy where we have a STRONG middle class and NO poverty. I mean, that’s our goal, right? Let’s say if you vote your Republican person in because of his views on the Economy and it PAYS OFF…let’s imagine that world, but let’s not forget how that person’s social politics builds around the economy.

So – all of these Republicans get to control the economy because the Economically Conservative/Socially Liberal people voted with their wallets. And it was SUCCESSFUL (which, remember, I do not think it would be) and now we have this strong economy with no poverty and everything economically is coming up roses. BUT. Look at all of the current proposed legislation that errs on the social side from Republican: Trans people have been erased and no matter how they live their lives, their driver’s license will always assign them the gender assigned at birth. LGBTQ+ people are never given places as defined classes in the Civil Rights Act so they never get the protections they deserve. This is the trend this legislation is taking but removing all federal protections set by Obama and re-writing recommendations set by various agencies aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ people. Over the previous presidency we opened the door for the existence of all of these beautiful people on spectrums of gender and sexuality. We made it legal for them to marry! We celebrated the successes of LGBTQ people like Laverne Cox and Ellen DeGeneres by watching their shows and yet…YET…when the government still won’t protect them in the way they define themselves…we don’t fret over it because…at least the economy is good?

I don’t know. Raising my kids in an economy with a fading middle class (if that’s your fear as an Economic Conservative) would be a struggle, but raising them in a country where the laws don’t protect them if their dare choose to live off any definition of “norm” – seems a hell of a lot worse. 

I was naive when Trump was elected. I really assumed we wouldn’t move backwards because you can’t undo progress when it comes to civil rights and social issues. Once you’ve given someone a right to exist, you can’t take it away. Or so I thought. But Trump has done everything he can to undo any protections Obama put into place for the LGBTQ+ community and Republicans have not pushed back on this and so now I’m waking up to the truth that when you are building a movement based on FEAR OF THE OTHER…then you can very easily move backwards on progress. You can give Dreamers rights to be legal in the country they were raised, and then you can take them away by trying to bundle them up in some sort of immigration reform war no one is ever going to win. You can legalize abortion and then pass so many restrictive laws from state-to-state that it might as well be illegal in many places because. You can give everyone the right to vote, but then you can allow states to put so many hurdles in place that many feel disenfranchised and don’t even bother any more. 

The arc of the universe my look to be bending towards justice, but that path is no guarantee. And there’s no guarantee that it stays an arc before bending backwards on itself. We can’t be complacent. And if you think the only way to a strong economy is by voting Republican, then imagine what that society would look like based on how the Republicans are legislating and pandering to the social conservatism of their base.

If everyone votes on social issues, then we all join the same side socially. No one ever tries to campaign on the benefits of segregation anymore. (Although, there is a debate to be had on the purpose of some legislation being to disguise segregation in plain site.) We all quietly agreed that integration was the way of the future and then parties were divided in other areas. What if we all voted and and used our voices to support LGBTQ+ issues? Then everyone would have to start agreeing and those issues would no longer be dividing lines. 

And maybe I’m just a Mom talking about something that relates to her kids which makes me unable to be diplomatic.  These are not just “social issues” to me because they directly affect that ability for my loved ones to be happily accepted into our society. Maybe I’m just worried for those loved ones in the LGBTQ+ community and I can’t imagine how someone would vote against them because I have too much emotion riding on this issue. Maybe there’s no point in trying to be reasonable when I have this much invested. Maybe I just need to start begging since that’s what my heart is calling me to do.

PLEASE. If you are socially liberal and economically conservative. Vote Democrat. And if the economically conservative part of you is worried, Google “does trickle down economics work” and maybe you’ll see enough to assuage your fears about what would happen otherwise. 

And I haven’t even touched on issues of systemic racism and how conservative policies often uphold these systems of oppression, especially in areas of criminal justice. I’ve written enough about that here in the past, I’ll leave it out of today’s entry.

I think I am simply begging under the disguise of stoic debate. I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

One Comment

  • Lucy McConville

    Right on, Sister! Yesterday I was driving and listening to an interview with a Republican congressman running for re-election in my area. He was asked if he allies himself with Trump and he sort of laughed (like, “Yeah, that guy is pretty much a nut-job…”) but said he did feel the policy changes that have been enacted thus far in the administration have strengthened the economy to create the current boom.

    I actually SCREAMED in the car, “But at what COST?!?!” I’m sorry, I’d rather be poor and struggling, than to live in a country that tries to hold down over half of its citizens! I’d rather be poor and struggling, than to live in a country moving BACKWARD on environmental concerns. Who cares if we are all rich if we end up leaving drought and food shortages to our children…contaminated drinking water…air pollution that causes illness…no more bees to pollenate our crops…and, and, and!

    Sigh.