Thursday, January 22, 2009

Becoming less conservative

I've heard that Winston Churchill said, "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain." It turns out this isn't true, but I'm going to talk about that quote today anyway.

By these standards, my brain has been atrophying over the last several years. My parents have generally supported right-wing political parties for as long as I can remember, so I was raised with a conservative bias. I let myself be influenced by other conservative people too, so by the end of high school, I might have been more conservative than my parents. Come to think of it, they might have been more moderate than I thought.

Conservatives tend to favour smaller government and lower taxes. This made sense to me. If people pay lower taxes, they can buy more, stimulating the economy. If companies sell more stuff and pay less taxes, they can hire more people, stimulating the economy. I cared about poverty too, but the old "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" made me think conservative poverty-fighting programs were just as good as liberal ones.

More recently the media has talked about how the American economy did so much better under Bill Clinton than under George W. Bush. I know the president isn't the only factor, but here was a big example of economic success under a liberal leader. Last year, Scott Adams (the writer of Dilbert) commissioned a survey of economists to find out which presidential candidate they thought would be best for the economy. Overall, they favoured Obama over McCain. It also turned out that more economists are registered as Democrats than Republicans. (To anyone who thinks political affiliation biased the results: in general the Independents favoured Obama. Also, the fact that there are more Democrats than Republicans in the survey shows that economists tend to favour liberal policies in general.) So there's more evidence that liberal policies could be good for the economy.

Changes in my faith in God (yes, I'm still an evangelical Christian in case you're wondering) have made me less inclined to support socially conservative causes too, but I'm not going to get into the reasons for that today.

I've still never voted for the Liberal party. I'd generally consider myself moderate, not so much liberal or conservative. But my recent votes against the Liberals have had more to do with integrity and leadership than with policies.

No comments: