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Put the "conserve" back into "conservatism"

Reported by Chrish - May 26, 2008 -

Laura Ingraham's Talking Points Memo on the Factor last Monday night has haunted me. In it she twisted Barack Obama's words from a speech in Oregon:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,"
into an accusation that he would submit American sovereignty to foreign approval.

"Barack Obama wants you to give up your SUV!" she began. Her hyperbole included "In an Obama presidency, we have to check with the European Union before we hop in our Chevy Suburbans, eat that extra slice of pizza, or crank up our air conditioning this summer?" and "For liberals like Obama, climate change represents their chance to effectively outlaw the American way of life, that's right, something that they've wanted to do for decades." She employed all the right-wing emotions - indignation, xenophobia, self-righteousness, personal entitlement, native superiority - to turn listeners against Obama and taking action to curb global warming. In essence she said that Americans don't need to reign in our consumption in cooperation with the rest of the world; that would be a sign of weakness, beneath us.

Later in the week I came across a personal story, "No sugar, no butter, and bare ladies' legs." The author reminisces about the sacrifices Americans were called on to make during World War II, which were made gladly and in solidarity. Where's that spirit today?

The commander in chief has only asked that we go about our daily lives and keep the oil-dependent consumption-economy going. That includes buying and driving fuel-guzzling land-yachts, and toodling them to the store to buy a gas-guzzling riding mower for your patch of paradise, which you'll promptly encourage to grow more by saturating with oil-based fertilizers. You can admire the greenery from the chilly confines of your home as you scarf a meat-lovers with cheesy crust and quickly surf past the liberal channels bringing unsettling news of global food shortages and weather-related disasters. When did America get so self-absorbed? When did self-indulgence become our most cherished right?

On this Memorial Day maybe Ms. Ingraham and others who share her views will reflect on the gruesome carnage being carried out so that they can transport their families in utter luxury from one climate-controlled environment to another without breaking a sweat or a fingernail. Maybe they'll rethink their attitude of superiority and realize that patriotism doesn't mean arrogance, and humility is actually a more "Christian" posture (I only bring it up because of her ever-present prominent cross). Perhaps, as a new mom, she'll start thinking in terms of generations to come and what the planet should look like for them. Maybe they'll realize we're all in this together, a simpler life can still be a very good life, and they ought to put the "conserve" back into "conservatism" and the "Christ" back in "Christian." Maybe Bill O'Reilly, who longs for the good old days of his youth, will start encouraging the folks to ride their bicycles or take the bus, grow some vegetables, string up a clothesline, and turn off the air conditioner.

The American way of life our soldiers have died and are dying for is not the grotesque caricature of glutonny and selfishness that is the new "happiness," at least I don't think so. They fight for something far more noble, the notion that we can all live freely, without government interference, to pursue happiness that doesn't come from a corporation. Then we can enjoy the righteousness born of doing the right thing for all our fellow (wo)men, not just those made in the USA.