A letter to a friend

(Most recently I had a liberal friend ask me about being a Republican and compassion.)

I saw your tweet on the Republican Tom and the divide you view in my heart. I am guessing the implication that one can’t be a Republican or conservative and still have a heart.  There lies a confusion on what is conservatism is and represent.  I think you were responding on a tweet on climate change. I will leave that issue alone and want you to understand a little deeper into what makes a American conservative.  Never confuse compassion and political ideology and as someone who has been in politics for five decades, and who has moved from left to right, I find that most people on both sides truly believe that their philosophy will benefit America including helping the poor but I will tell you I have seen my share of those who view government as the path to power over the rest of us.

My own view has been shaped in what I has observed over the years and the trends I detailed in my book the Rise of National Populism and Democratic Socialism, and we are at important junction in our history.  For me, I fear a bigger government than even the worst of corporations since government have police power to compelled their citizens to their will and history has shown the abuse of power to goes with that.  As I noted in my book, fascism in America will come from the left and not the right.  Let deal with the obvious, is Trump is a Fascism?  No, while Trump complains about media coverage, he has done nothing serous to impede freedom of speech but the left has been more serious about restricting freeom of speech.  Speech codes on college campus in the guise of reducing hate speech is nothing more than attempt to thwart freedom of speech.  I would suggest anyone to review the Wisconsin DOJ review of the John Doe 2 investigation in which supporter of Scott Walker were treated to midnight raids on their home under the guise of finding campaign finance abuses.  Just imagine yourself in your home at 11 pm at night when several police cars with cherry top blazing and police officers ransack your house while demanding all of your computers, and then being warned by the DA, talk to your lawyer and we will send you to jail for contempt.  This happened n 2012 through 2014and I talked with those involved.  This is Gespto tactics in action and this is what Fascism in Europe and US will look like.  http://thefederalist.com/2017/12/07/bombshell-report-political-persecution-scott-walker-swept-high-level-gop-officials/

Most Democrats like most Republicans would oppose this but it has happened over the past couple of decades.  I have witnessed first hand attempts by many politicians who have used their power to restrict freedome of speech and most of them have been Democrats. I have seen Radio stations threaten with their FCC liscenses if they don’t remove ads the other side don’t like. (So far I have yet to see a Republican or conservative group threaten a radio station with FCC licensing but I have seen Democrats do this in three states.) https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/the-real-war-on-women-and-speech-dick-durbin-edition.php


Trump is many things but a Neo-Nazis, Hitlerian character is not one of them.  The biggest difference I have seen over the past four decades is the actual criminalization of political differences.  There is no golden age of politics in which we treated each other with respectbut there was a feeling that after a election, we are all Americans and moved on to the next elections.  Today, that is being lost. Spend a day on twitter and you see it, the hatred often spew on both sides.    We still have our freedom but it is fragile and the greatest threat to the Press is not Trump but his opponents. Nor does the media help itself with own bias being shown on a daily basis. Consider what NPR and Pew Reserch found, there were eight times as many positive stories about Obama than Trump and for every positive story about Trump, you had 12 negative stories.  If the media themselves refuse to be accurate in their coverage, they are merely sowing the seed of their own destruction since they have thrown away the one thing they can never get back, their reputation.  I don’t spend my night worry about what Trump will do or won’t do since he is limited by the Constitution about what he can do when it comes to the media. I worry more about those who favor weakening the constitution and use the power of government to criminalize the political difference.  This I document in my book with enough references.  Having both dealt with this on a personal basis and seen it first hand,  the very same people who consistenly warns us about Trump have been doing far worse over the past decade.

Now for the compassion.  The story Christmas Carol is one of my favorite for Dickens in his own way, in which he tells those asking for his aid, “are there no poorhouses?” as he makes the point, he pays his taxes for “welfare for the poor” and this is enough.  He refuses to part with his own money for charities for he is selfish but equally bad, he view it is the role of government and not individuals to care for the poor.  This is complete opposite of most Americans believe.  There have been a chartible aspect to Americans that impressed even Tocqueville in his Democracy in America plus. 5% of our economy is the charity sector and the number of people involved in charity could be as much as 1/3rd of our work force.   Bernie Sanders in the early 80’s told the Unite Way in a speech he didn’t believe in charity suggesting that government handles all that charity does.  For many on the left, there is no room for private charity and that is now extending to the private sector in general.  Scrooge own view was that he wasn’t responsible for his fellow man but let others through government deal with it.  I have heard this myself from individuals over the years who have made similar statements.  When I lived in Kansas, I worked with a breakfast club at our church in which we offered free breakfast before school to many of our poor children.  I had members of our church ask why we did this, couldn’t the government handle it?  Eventually we discontinued the program when the state government expanded their own breakfast program for 10 time the cost but what was lost, the breakfast included something that government didn’t provide, love for those children, many of whom didn’t see it often in their own home.  As the Vermont governor who followed Sanders noted, “You can’t buy caring.”  I will point out the majority of studies that dealt with charitable giving among different groups consistenly show that on the average conservatives donate more to charities than liberals to make a point that many conservatives do indeed show real compassion with their own resources.   This is not to say that government doesn’t have a role in helping the poor, they do but that role is limited and can never be permanent aspect but a mere helping hand to move up the economic ladder.  We have spent litterally trillion of dollars on poverty programs since the 60’s and poverty have ranged from 11 to 15% and the biggest drop in poverty rates came from the late 40’s to mid 60’s before the war on poverty began.

Can a Republican and conservative have a heart, yes and often they do.  As a liberal pastor of mine admitted that her pew were full of conservatives and Republicans on a Sunday morning and provided the money needed to run the church including the various outreach the church provided.   A functioning market economy is the most efficient way to relieve poverty ever seen and while like any human endeavor, it is imperfect but as James Madison observed in the Federalist paper, If men were angel, we would have no need for government.  Conservatives don’t disavow the role of government but understand that government needs to be limited to protect our liberties and not be a threat to them.  There is a difference between a safety net and a government that attempts to provide for all needs. The former allows individuals to move up the economic with temporary help and a permanent welfare system that traps individuals and provides obstacles to moving up the economic ladder.  The state with possibly the greatest inequality and highest number of people living in poverty based on Census buearu is California which spends plenty on a state wide basis to compliment what they get from the Federal government to deal with poverty.  In California, infrastructure is failing to go with the schools, housing and energy prices exceeds that of other states with the middle class and the poor unable to find even decent housing for the price.  If you are a middle class living in San Franscico or LA, you barely making ends meet.  US News and World Report rated California as the worst state overall based on host of items includig business climate, affordability and providing for the basics.  Liberal policies don’t alway  provide compassion even with all the best intentions.   Politicians like Trump come and go but ideals stay with us. How can a Republican have a heart, I could ask the same thing of most liberals, how can you be a liberal and have a heart when the very basis of their policies is coercing others to give through a government police power.


Tom Donelson

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