Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Liberal/Conservative Theater.

      After having been involved with advocacy and the public sector for the last decade, I have gained a new appreciation for the factors that shape so many social debates, such as the Gun Debate.  The measures of success used by the liberal and conservative protagonists aren’t the same and often not even closely related.  Consequently, as each presents its case, it is not likely to achieve its goal even with the most logically sound argument. 
      The liberal metrics focus on policy and procedures.  They believe good results can follow from good laws.  The conservative metrics, on the other hand, focus on cause and effect.  They believe good result can only follow when causes are understood and remedial action measurably reduces the cause.  From the perspective of the conservative, liberals proliferate unenforceable and impotent “feel good” laws, which do nothing but waste resources and restrict freedom.  From the perspective of the liberal, conservatives are too rigid and unable to see the broader top-down picture.  The gun issue is classic.
     The recent incidents of gun violence at Newtown and Aurora have energized liberal’s broader range goals of restricting the availability of guns via new laws.  Their inescapable logic is -- less guns mean less gun violence.  People “feel bad” about the massacres and are entranced to pass “feel good” policy and laws primarily for emotional release. They need to do something, anything.  The parading of parents of the Newtown children was to transfer that sentiment to the legislators.   
      Conservatives are focused at “root cause” mostly out of self-serving desire not to lose a freedom. They have equally inescapable logic – laws being proposed would have done nothing to eliminate either of these two tragedies.  Before Americans agree to give up a freedom, they need to be sure it solves the problem.  Consequently, they have directed their efforts at protection, recognizing that guns are not going to go away any time in the near future.  
     The liberals have not felt it necessary to argue “cause” and “effect,” while conservatives consider that to be the only valid argument   Conservatives find emotional laws to be ineffective and a government over-reach.
     With both sides of the gun debate arguing pass each other, the law that gets passed is not going to result of the winning argument.  They’re usually not even arguing the same issue and don’t even measure success the same way.  The laws that get passed are probably reflective of the general emotional state of the populace.  In time of affluence society adopts laws of self-actualization and more liberal quality of life considerations.  When times are tough, the laws are more likely to be focused on near-term solutions with good positive return on the public investment.   Everything else is just theater.

No comments:

Post a Comment