Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Family Values

Have you ever noticed how rightwing conservatives tout the notion of "family values" as if only conservatives could ever hold them and abide by them? As if conservatism = family values and liberalism = anti-family values? It's all part and parcel of a pattern of conservative self-righteousness that seeks to take basic human decency, not to mention concepts of love, charity, honor, commitment, loyalty, dignity, hard-work, compassion, etc., and to claim some kind of proprietary ownership over these kinds of values.

Well, I have this to say: family values are not ideological.

I refuse to let self-righteous conservatives claim ownership of the basic human values that many, many, many liberals quietly and happily live by. Good, decent human beings can live by these values of decency, compassion, tolerance, understanding, charity, love, etc., regardless of their political ideology.

And to those special, outspoken, and judgmental "family-values" conservatives who have defiled their own marriage vows by cheating on their spouses, who have sought the comforts of sexual intimacy in brothels, who have themselves defended the institution of marriage by getting divorced, who have spent long hours at the office making tons of money all the while missing out on the family dinner together, who have never been to their kids' parent-teacher conferences, and who are generally just too busy to do anything with their kids, etc., I say:

Kiss my happily-married, never-divorced, completely-faithful, parent-teacher-conference-attending, elementary-school-volunteering, weekend-birthday-party-chauffeuring, regular-family-dinner-time-attending, family-values-living, LIBERAL arse!


MAD said...

Why are conservatives in your blog always "right wing"? And why do you stereotype conservatism with examples of those who have strayed from conservative values? And since the libs have the political ascendancy for now and the votes to impose whatever radical political "values" they want to impose, why are you picking this fight?

Huck said...

MAD - Conservatives are always "rightwing" because that's the home conservatives occupy on the ideological spectrum, so-to-speak. Liberals are leftwing. This is a very static and generally-accepted characterization of the different ideologies. In fact, rightwing and leftwing are value neutral terms. Let me ask you, would you consider conservatives to be "leftwing" or "centrist" on the ideological spectrum?

And I'm not stereotyping conservatives at all. In fact, the whole point of my post is to not allow people like you to do exactly what you do and try to appropriate these values as conservative values. Why do you identify these values as "conservative"? And, furthermore, I find it ironically amusing that you complain about stereotyping conservatives all the while you speak of liberals as espousing "radical" political values. Would you call being faithful to your spouse "radical"? What about attending parent/teacher conferences? Is that a "radical" value? Because I am a liberal, you know, and I practice those values. So if we share those values, you must be a "radical," too.

In short, your response is PRECISELY why I wrote this post. If you want to say that I'm picking a fight about it, that's fine. But liberals have to speak up against this conservative tendency, which you so readily demonstrate by your comment, to want to appropriate basic values of human decency as "conservative" values. You want to claim certain values as part and parcel of "conservatism," and I just won't let you because it simply ain't true.

MAD said...

"Right wing" generally suggests the far edge of the political spectrum, and is a pejorative term. Is that why you use it? Things must be quiet in Upchuck world right now-time to enliven things by dumping on conservatives again.

Huck said...

"Rightwing" is as pejorative a term as "leftwing," which, in my mind, is not pejorative at all. I, personally, don't care much at all about being labelled leftwing, because that's, by definition, what a liberal is. What I do care about is having leftwing liberals labelled as "radicals." That term is pejorative. So if anybody is throwing around pejorative terms referencing ideology here, it's not me.

And you still haven't commented on the gist of my post, which has to do with why you think all those "family values" I listed are "conservative" values and not ideologically neutral values. That's my beef. If one were to buy your argument that all those values are somehow reflective of conservatism, then I am a much, much, much better "conservative" than David Vitter. And that's about as absurd an idea as there is.

Yeah, I do get fed up by the smug self-righteousness of some family-values conservatives who like to think that they own family values and that liberalism is anti-thetical to such values. Believe me, if I weren't assaulted by this kind of smug self-righteousness, I wouldn't be making these kinds of postings.

mad said...

Are you equally disgusted with the left claiming exclusive province over compassion for the poor, and routinely seeking to characterize all conservatives as uncaring, bigoted and homophobic? Just keep living a clean life, Huck, and lighten up on the sanctimony.

Huck said...

mad - To answer your question: yes, indeed. It's not right to claim in kneejerk fashion that compassion, caring, tolerance, etc., all which are human values, as being the province of any particular ideology.

I don't think I'm being sanctimonious. I'm simply refusing to let conservatives claim values inherent to conservatism that simply is not true. But let's just put any kind of sanctimony aside here. I would simply like to see if I can get you to answer the question of why you consider certain "family values" (what I would simply call human values) to be "conservative" values? You did write the following in your first comment: "And why do you stereotype conservatism with examples of those who have strayed from conservative values." Small government -- that's a conservative value. Progressive taxation -- that's a liberal value. Being faithful to one's spouse, attending parent/teacher meetings, embracing the family dinner as sacred, etc., -- that's a human "family" value that has no relationship at all to liberalism or conservatism. So why then did you identify them as "conservative" values as opposed to a "liberal" values? That was the entire purpose of my post. I'd just like an answer to that simple question.

MAD said...

Your beef is not that your family values are ideologically neutral, but that they are somehow identified with conservatism. It discomforts you that you have something in common with many conservatives.
Political parties seeking to capture traditional values as synonymous with party ideology? I am shocked that such a thing occurs. Both parties do it, and have been doing it for many years, but it cannot effectively be done in a wholly artificial manner. At some point, the contrived political stratagem has to mesh with a certain reality. The liberals have chosen to brand themselves with issues of gay marriage, single parenthood, abortion on demand, feminism, and other such challenging social issues that are disconsonant with the values of much of middle or mainstream America. Those choices have consequences, and, like it or not, accept it or not, fair or not, one consequence of that choice is that "traditional family values" are more closely identified with conservatives than liberals. Relax and enjoy it, Huck, you may yet have Rush Limbaugh in your future.

Huck said...

mad - Yes, my beef is that family values that I and many, many, many liberals hold have been coopted by conservatives as somehow part of conservatism. I am not at all uncomfortable with the fact that I share certain family values with conservatives. I'm glad for that because I think they are worthy values that all human beings should hold. But I do not accept that my sharing such values with conservatives makes me somehow more conservative, anymore than conservatives sharing such values with me that makes them more liberal.

You write: "The liberals have chosen to brand themselves with issues of gay marriage, single parenthood, abortion on demand, feminism, and other such challenging social issues that are disconsonant with the values of much of middle or mainstream America."

And there are many conservatives who support gay marriage, who find themselves divorced or in the ranks of single-parenthood, who are pro-choice, and who consider themselves feminist. If you want to make a distinction between liberals and conservatives on these issues, it would be in terms of their policy prescriptions regarding these issues. Liberals align themselves with certainly policy positions on these issues not because they think abortion is good or that single-parenthood is desirable or that gay marriage harms the family or weakens the institution of marriage. The differences between liberals and conservatives here, at least as I see it, is that liberals think it is not government's position to impose morality through public policy.

If "traditional" values tend to be more consonant with conservatism, then that is only because conservatives have been more effective in coopting such values as part of ideology -- and much less so in actually living by them.

The proof is in your final joke: Rush Limbaugh, in my future? Because I share "family values" with conservatives? You've got to be joking: I wouldn't use Rush Limbaugh as an example of traditional family values -- the man is thrice divorced, brags about making trips to the Dominican Republic to go whoring and carousing, is a drug-addict who broke the law by doctor-shopping for his Oxycontin fix. If Rush Limbaug is somehow reflective of "traditional family values" simply because he is the voice of true conservatism, then I want to share no part of that conservatism. It underlies my point yet again: conservatives claim family values as part and parcel of their ideology and yet are some of the worst examples of living by them. Perhaps the reason why liberals haven't tried to claim "traditional family values" is because liberals know the reality of human failings and complexities of life that make aspirational goals of good living not something by which to measure the purpose of public policy.

In terms of "traditional family values" -- give me Barack and Michelle Obama over Rush Limbaugh any day. In fact, if traditional family values is your thing, too, then perhaps you may yet have the Obamas in your future!

Anonymous said...


I don't think it is fair to blame parents to much for not wanting to attend parent-teacher-conferences...

Many parents hate them because they get the constant feeling like the teachers place blame on their shoulders..

Example- Dad said he hated talking to my math teacher. Because the math teacher would say "Well, if you help him a little in the evenings I am sure he will do just fine"

HELLO, most of the math was above my Dad's head!. Some of it he KNEW how to do, but couldn't EXPLAIN it to me.

And to pass responsibility on to HIM like that, is simply UNFAIR.

When you assume that the parent's know the material, you're begging for a blind lead the blind world.