The virtues of conservatives are ultimately the virtues of individuality. The personal power of independence. The personal truth of liberty. Going at it alone for personal goals.
You can’t have a nation without community. You can’t have freedom without individuality. Conservatives salute standing on your own, and that’s classically courageous. Liberals salute helping others, and that’s classically compassionate. There’s some truth to each side.
Zealots mistake “some truth” for the only truth. Now far-right zealots take armed possession of wildlife refuges, and far-left zealots crash and intimidate an opponent’s political rally. Left or right, hate is no virtue. Both sides have flaws. The ultimate flaw of conservatives is that they must point to an idealized past that, in truth, never existed. The ultimate flaw of liberals is that they must point to an idealized future that, in truth, can never be realized.
Too far right, you fall to narcissism and self-destructive greed. Too far left, you fall to groupthink and self-destructive sloth. We need balance. Flanked by zealots, moderates are either squeezed out or pulled apart. Moderates are the great buffer zone. They prefer consideration to condescension, and the civic-mind to civil strife. Moderates put the “united” in the United States of America.
Mitch Daniels, a moderate Republican, took Indiana out of debt and back in the black — incredibly during the Great Recession. Evan Bayh, a moderate Democrat, left Indiana with a $1.6 billion surplus. Both of these men believed in their ideals - but they practiced real-world math. Political leaders like these are an endangered species now.
Both parties pursued agendas – damning the torpedoes – and created this national debt crisis, an issue that threatens all other issues. It will take the power of both parties – working together – to tackle $19 trillion debt. Otherwise, it’s fiscal suicide.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar, a renowned moderate, created a Bipartisan Index. It measures how open a congressional member is to work with opposition to create shared goals, like balancing budgets. In his Bipartisan Index Introduction, Lugar states: “Taking a position is not the same thing as governing” (thelugarcenter.org). Ideals alone save no one.
Todd Young scored better on the Bipartisan Index than Marlin Stutzman. That’s a start for me. I wish Republicans focused more on tax reform than tax cuts. I wish Democrats would tighten Social Security and Medicare before they implode. Should there be program expansions or tax cuts when we borrowed trillions from China? Before there were “Democrats” or “Republicans,” there were “Americans.” The only way to the future is together.
Heath Shive is a resident of Fort Wayne.