By Stefanie Schappert
Special to The Clyde Fitch Report
A Harvard undergrad returns home on break. The conversation at the welcome home dinner inevitably turns to her schooling.
“I’ve become an enlightened liberal,” the English lit student declares proudly. The conversation then turns to her study habits, free time and the like.
Daughter: “Free time? What free time? I barely have time to eat. I’m working like a dog — but I’m making dean’s list!”
Father: “And how is your best friend Michelle doing?”
Daughter: “She works, but has different parties, I, uh, mean priorities. Her GPA is hitting rock bottom. She’s pretty smart, but she was warned that if she doesn’t clean up her act, then she’ll be booted.”
Father: “Now, you wouldn’t want that. Why don’t you go to the dean’s office and offer to transfer some of your GPA to Michelle so you both can be equal?”
Daughter: “Why in the world would I do that!? I work hard. I push myself. I do what I must without any excuses. Michelle is capable. If she wanted to succeed like me, she would.”
Father: “Are you sure that your English lit courses don’t include a class in poli-sci? You’ve managed to succinctly articulate the differences between conservatives and liberals.”
Last week I was at a social gathering among my journalism peers, some of them new acquaintances, some of them old. More important, most were unaware that I had “come out,” so to speak, as a Republican, with a conservative op-ed column to boot. As the topic of politics made its way around the more focused circles of conversation and I admitted my social faux pas loud and clear, my media friends started to look at me as if I was a caged tiger in a zoo reading a book. The look can be described as partly afraid, partly curious and partly impressed that I would so boldly claim my conservative title in a room full of liberal journalists.
I know that some of my readers have argued that the mainstream media is not cut from a liberal cloth, but that’s like saying tigers aren’t wild animals. And I’m going to bet those readers are not journalists in New York City. Note: Using Fox News as an example because they’re located here in the city doesn’t fly with me, as I worked there myself and I know both sides of the aisle make up the crew. Anyway, back to the story.
So there I was, in a circle of unabashed liberals, racking their brains, trying to figure out why I would admit to something seen as so repulsive in their world. In fact, one colleague tried to connect with my plight saying, “My boyfriend is Republican too, but he won’t tell anyone. Instead, he tells people he’s a Libertarian.” She went on: “Why wouldn’t you just call yourself Libertarian so people don’t associate you with the evangelical right?” There were so many things wrong with this comment and subsequent question that it stuck with me all week. And now I’m writing about it in my column.
Number two: I do not associate being a Republican with being part of the Christian right — as I assume most Democrats do not consider themselves part of the far left.
Number three: many evangelical Christians, who make up about 20 percent of the population, compared to the entire U.S. Christian population at 75 percent, would probably also argue that they’re not part of the right wing. Interestingly enough, out of those 20 percent, a third are actually Democrats. And only 8 percent of that group have strict conservative doctrinal beliefs. (If you want to read more about breakdowns in voting blocks, especially during the Bush elections, I recommend this article posted on public eye.org).
Number four: a Libertarian, by definition, is not exactly a Republican. It’s a muddled term that has roots in both the left and right. Many libertarians favor limited government to the extreme, commonly in line with an anarchic view originally sprung from the Socialist workers movement of the 20th century.
In fact, isn’t a more left-leaning viewpoint “to stand up and be proud of what you believe in, not hide from it”? Isn’t the liberal philosophy “to embrace diversity and respect other points of view, no matter how different than your own?” I mean, isn’t that why we have the ACLU? And shouldn’t we be educated about what a group really stands for before labeling them as right-wing or left-wing loons?
I decided to do a little research and clear up the mystery for my fellow New Yorkers and for other urbanites who live in a primarily liberal environment. Here are some basic facts I extrapolated about both parties, according to the mainstay Wikipedia:
FOUNDED: The Republican Party was founded in the northern states in 1854 by anti-slavery activists. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president in 1860. The Democratic Party evolved in the 1790s from Anti-Federalist factions that opposed the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton, which was primarily the establishment of a National Bank and government assumption of all financial debts owed by the states.
ECONOMY: Today, Republicans emphasize the role of free markets and individual achievement as the primary factors behind economic prosperity. They favor laissez-faire economics, fiscal conservatism, and the promotion of personal responsibility over welfare programs. By contrast, Democrats believe government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice and use a system of progressive taxation. Democrats advocate a free enterprise system tempered by government intervention.
JUDICIAL: Most Republicans support strict constructionism, the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be interpreted narrowly and as close to the original intent as is practicable rather than a more flexible “living Constitution” model Democrats favor.
DEFENSE: Although the Republican Party has always advocated a strong national defense, historically they disapproved of interventionist foreign policy action, opposing military intervention in WWI, WWII (before the attack on Pearl Harbor) and more recently Somalia and the Balkans. Democrats mostly oppose the doctrine of unilateralism, which dictates that the United States should use military force without any assistance from other nations whenever it believes there is a threat to its security or welfare.
Yes, the Republican and Democrat viewpoints are polar opposites when it comes to government size and control. But I don’t see it written anywhere that Republicans are greedy, racist sadomasochists who want to control the masses for their own political gain. We just have a different philosophy on how to succeed as a country, and many of us conservatives feel that history is on our side. We look around at international socialism-driven economies and see them getting watered down by weak governments kowtowing to world opinion and by bankrupt welfare-like systems made up of high taxes, national healthcare, a growing influx of immigrants and low productivity output by its workers. These nanny-driven governments are falling apart because they can no longer afford to pay for all the benefits promised to their citizens.
And that is exactly what is happening to many states right here in the U.S. As I’ve mentioned before, look at California, a state that prides itself on all its social programs, its sanctuary cities, its free universities. How long can people get a free ride before the government goes broke? The liberal answer is to point out that George W. Bush grew the deficit and was an out-of-control spender, but most Republicans and conservatives agree with that fact. The difference is that conservatives’ answer is not to support another administration that has practically tripled the deficit in its first year while continuingly passing bills that give government more and more control over the economy. Period.
So, what eventually came about at the party? Well, after a few drinks between “friends,” I started to look like one of them and they forgot all about me and my conservative dissent. But I’m sure after they woke up the next day clutching my “lipstick conservative” business card in their hands, it all came back to them.
Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. A staunch conservative in a self-professed city of liberals and the military wife of a Green Beret, she created Lipstick Conservative to share her unique viewpoint on politics and culture. This broadcast news veteran and former NFL Cheerleader is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzz kill during many a dinner party. Contact Stefanie or learn more at lipstickconservative.com.
Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.