LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Times change for conservatives, liberals

In the upcoming election, will you vote as a liberal? Conservative? I’ve been thinking about those terms and their changing meaning.

One of the harshest criticisms used in opinion pieces and letters to the editor is the term liberal. It appears that many contributors believe the root cause of most problems is the liberal. My conservative friends are not shy in decrying the harm to society dealt or proposed by liberal voters, politicians and policies. Examples of destructive liberal policies range from the weakening of the family, overspending by the government and promotion of welfare. But as I look at news headlines, I have a hard time seeing current events as clearly liberal or conservative.

Conservatives frequently bash liberals for ideas and policies that harm the family. Conservatives also overwhelmingly support President Trump, disregarding his history of marital infidelity and its weakening of the family. Despite his public pursuit of his second and third wives while still married and the dozen or so women who have accused him of various improprieties while married, polls show conservatives either ignore or excuse his behavior.

Some conservatives believe his claims of having nothing to do with a Playboy model or a porn actress while others accept these infidelities but defend the president by pointing to Clinton and Kennedy infidelities while in office. The conclusion I reach and that polls show is that marital infidelity and its harmful effect on the family is not a concern of conservatives, at least as it pertains to President Trump.

Conservatives accuse liberals of poor economic policies. Until the last election, liberals were accused of sabotaging the economy by uncontrolled deficit spending. Liberal policies were creating a huge deficit that future generations would have to confront. The current economy is an area of strong conservative support. Low unemployment and a record stock market are regularly identified as evidence of good economic policy. There are occasional concerns raised about wage stagnation and tax cuts that favor the rich, but polls show overwhelming conservative support for the recent tax cuts.

As a result of these cuts, federal deficits will rise from the 2016-2017 averages (Obama budgets) of $625 billion per year to $1 trillion per year starting in government fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1, 2018. The president criticized past administrations for deficit spending and has claimed his policies will reduce the deficit, but official government sources show a $7 trillion deficit growth over the coming decade. Despite this increase, polls show conservatives no longer see deficit spending as an issue that affects them.

Welfare is another area where liberal and conservative lines are blurred. Conservatives accuse liberals of promoting welfare and of tailoring government policy to “pick winners and losers.” From food stamps to bank bailouts, liberals were driving the country toward socialism. They were accused by conservatives of granting benefits to undeserving, liberal-voting groups of people who are “gaming” the system to get undeserved benefits.

Then came tariffs. President Trump imposed tariffs on the European Union, Canada, Japan, South Korea and other friendly nations as well as on adversaries like China. Retaliatory tariffs have impacted our country in several ways. The cost to build a new home has risen $7,000. This is seen by conservatives as the cost of getting a win in trade negotiations.

However, conservatives are now supporting government welfare that looks a lot like picking winners and losers. Farmers, especially soybean farmers, have been hit hard by tariff retaliation. In response, President Trump has initiated a welfare program for some farmers, who mostly vote for conservatives, to offset the effect of these tariffs. Certain soybean and hog farmers will receive part of a $12 billion handout from the government.

Not long ago, conservatives would not support a leader who epitomized marital infidelity and they were deeply troubled by growing federal deficits. Not long ago, liberals were generally identified as the group promoting welfare programs. Times have changed.

I do not refute the polls that show strong support for President Trump in these areas, but I like to believe that there are many voters, liberal and conservative, who are disturbed by marital infidelity, who are concerned about growing federal deficits or who do not support government welfare to offset government policy.

To these voters, I recommend that you look deeply at the candidates. Don’t be satisfied with slogans about where they stand. Instead, find out how they see these issues and others of importance to you. Don’t vote for a party. Vote for the person who, after adequate research, demonstrates that they can be trusted to promote your idea of good government. Liberal and conservative labels don’t make a good candidate. A good candidate is one who you believe is able to work with others to achieve good government.

Phil Spampinato

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