I’ll tell you something that I rarely tell anyone: I secretly want to be a conservative.
I don’t want to have to tell anyone what they should do with their money. I don’t want to be the one going up to some rich guy and saying, “look man, don’t you think you should be spending some more of your money on schools and less on all those cars?” Or telling my employer that he should really be offering me health care. Or telling some hardworking businesswoman who has spent the last two years looking for the perfect place to put her business, “sorry, but I think it might affect this rare species of birds that calls this place home. Or even demanding that a company not selectively hire employees based on age, sex, or ethnicity. All this regulation that we as liberals, demand of our government. I wish I didn’t have to be a part of it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we just put an end to all that regulation – all these crazy laws and offices and paperwork – and just let things flow? Maybe HP’s right. Maybe everything will get better. We’ll implement a flat tax to be more fair to the wealthy (I mean, is it a crime to be rich?) and with the lost revenue we’ll make cuts in programs like welfare which just makes people dependent on the government. And sure, maybe an affordable education will be less accessible, but you heard HP, if someone wants it bad enough, they’ll work hard enough for it and they’ll feel better about themselves because nobody helped them out.
In fact, I totally envision it right now. We cut welfare. We cut social programs. We cut afterschool programs. We cut outreach programs. No more free health care at the emergency room. Then, when we do all that, all the inner-city minorities are going to wake up the very next day and they’re going to think, “what the hell have I been doing with my life. All this time I’ve been pretending I was the victim, but really HP was right, it’s because we don’t “embrace the American work ethic with life-or-death fervor” and also because of “the special role of television in the life of black children and the low expectations of their parents.”1 Blacks will realize that if they could just learn how to pronounce ask, all their worries would be gone.
Then Latinos will stop sleeping away their entire days under a sombrero with a Corona in their hand and Blacks will throw away their TV’s which will bankrupt all the major channels in one day because we all know that only blacks watch television.
Personal Responsibility Is A Good Thing
Conservatives like HP, Black Pundit, Thoms Sowell, and Star Parker adopt the very best of conservative ideology – self sufficiency, fiscal responsibility, and the freedom of individual choice. But because those concepts are so appealing, they then get drawn into the daker side of conservativism: low corporate taxes, lower taxes for the wealthy, low minimum wage, little or no worker’s comp or health care, less social spending, less spending on education, more military spending, lower environmental standards.
I can relate. After reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I was infected by a completely new understanding of personal responsibility. It forever changed my outlook on life. I came to understand, for the first time, that absolutely nobody was responsible for me except myself. And that I should not be dependent on anyone else. I have always been an independent person, but not always self-sufficient and reading Atlas Shrugged changed that.
Do I think self-responsibility should be encouraged? Absolutely. That is always what I tell my little sister. It is what I told every student I worked with at Gompers. You have to do this because you want it yourself, not because anyone wants it for you.
If there’s one sentence in this series that will piss off some minorities – liberal and conservative alike – it is this: I agree with Cornel West that the development of minority conservativism is “healthy”. (Chapter 4 of Race Matters) That sounds patronizing, but I say “healthy” because the impetus of the minority conservative movement is not to pull the ladder up, but rather to take the mechanism of social change away from the government and into the hands of the individual. Though most conservatives wouldn’t admit it, this directly parallels the autonomy movement of the Zapatistas in Southern Mexico and the “demand side supplying itself mentality” of the open source movement. Basically, people are beginning to look beyond the government for ways to both offer help and receive it and I think that’s just swell. I only hope that in the process, these self-described minority conservatives don’t fall into the trap of supporting policy which adversely affects the very populations they claim to support such as a flat tax and low spending on education.
It will forever be argued whether programs like Social Security and Health Care fare better under government or private sector control. I would argue, hands down, that in the US the government does a better job administering both. However, in Mexico I would actually favor the private sector as the skyscrapers of Guadalajara and Monterrey are filled with much less corruption than the political palaces of Mexico City and Los Piños. But regardless, what is most important is that the programs are well accounted for. Citizens and the press must be relentless in making sure public money is neither squandered in government beuracracy nor carried away in CEO bank accounts.
But Now What?
There are things we can all agree on. We want more diversity. We want more integration. We want more underrepresented minorities in the sciences. We want less poverty and more social mobility. We want choice and we want equality.
In fact, the only thing we disagree on seems to be how to get there. As liberals, we like to think that it’s ideology first and policy second. That we believe in things like equality and justice and then set policy and make programs to promote our ideas. But really, we come up with the ends first and then deal with the means. What we want is diversity and equality. HP says this is because we feel guilty. But really we’re just like him.
So we come up with programs like affirmitive action because it’s the easiest fix, or as Cindylu calls it, “band aid.” But the unintended consequences of affirmitive action are that some minorities feel like they are admitted or hired because of their skin color and not their ability. Meanwhile, other students who are well qualified get turned down from their top choice schools to make room for underrepresented students who will increase the on-campus diversity.
But the question remains, how do we increase diversity in higher education? It’s not an easy problem to deal with, but when I look at just who is dealing with it, they are always liberals. Conservatives such as HP either pretend ethnicity is not relevant or blame underrepresentation on “cultural deficits.”
Fine, let’s say, the problem lies in cultural deficits. Then what? What are you going to do about it? Just give me one single plan of action that will promote diversity in higher education.
HP is saddened when minorities are admitted to a high caliber school like a UC and then choose to major in something like Chican@ studies. I wish HP would take a couple Chican@ studies (or even urban planning) classes himself. Then he would learn the history of how the city of San Diego has gone to such lengths to keep Barrio Logan isolated from the rest of San Diego and filled with junkyards and factories and the very worst of public schools. He would learn that an entire community of Paisanos called Chavez Ravine was razed without compensation to clear the way for Dodger’s stadium. He would better understand that, while racism is not as pronounced today as it was 30 years ago, the after-effects of such deeply ingrained (and top-level) discrimination just a few decades ago stll have a very lasting impact that needs to be counter-balanced. And by interacting with other students in these classes, he’ll better understand what drives them to focus on ethnic studies and righting the wrongs of the past.
Do universities have a role to play in promoting diversity and integration? Absolutely. Cindylu calls it the service component, I call it an agenda and every university has one. Unlike the NBA, the university system has a clear interest/responsibility in defining the society which its alumni will both be a part of and help change. And the university understands that a society functions best when it is diverse and integrated. You could also ask if universities should require their science students to take history classes and vise-versa. The answer is yes because a society functions better when it’s citizens are well rounded.
As many problems as EAOP has, I can say with absolute confidence that every student who interacted with an EAOP tutor/mentor (even me) was better off for it. It is a shame that, as Cindylu said, they are cutting so much of the program and probably soon, the entire program due to budget cuts and conservative disapproval of outreach programs.
I hope HP will:
- Continue to be my friend in the decades to come.
- Stop obsessing over the differences between liberals and conservatives.
- One day become an activist for what he believes in, be it pro-life/anti-choice legislation, urban education, minority success, whatever. My point is that just getting more people to say they’re conservatives is really not accomplishing anything at all.
Watch out for some warm and fuzzy bleeding heart liberal sentiment here. I’ve learned a great deal writing these posts and especially from the comments following them. I think the conversation between Cindylu and HP about affirmitive action and outreach programs does an amazing job at showing both sides of the debate.
In order to give HP some time to study for his midterms and DD enough time to do her 5000 crunches, I’m asking them not to comment on this one for a couple days.
Wizzal – what do you think about this series? Do you agree/disagree with any of it? Have you taken anything away?
Moreno – still no comments about anything related to ethnicity?
Karen – as an immigrant yourself who has “succeeded” in American society and also participated in an inner-city outreach program, did this series spark any thoughts?
Abogado and Bobbo – how has ethnicity come into play in your first year of law school? We’ve said in private that we think ethnicity influenced which law schools some of our friends got into. Are there any unspoken assumptions in your classes that some of the students are only their because of their ethnicity?
Yvette – Any thoughts on the series?
Elena – did you come away with anything from the series or are conservatives still fascists?
Rosalí – What’s your south of the border perspective?
And anyone else. If you’ve been following this blog for a while (or even if you haven’t) and have anything to say, we’d love to hear it.