Thoughts on rednecks, crackers, conservatives, liberals and other labelsby Hugh Holub on Aug. 05, 2010, under politics
Folks reading the comments on my posts about SB 1070 and immigration issues will note that I’m being characterized as a “liberal”. The word is generally used as an epithet by folks of a conservative orientattion.
Some thoughts on lables…..
First, a little context. I am a child of the South, growing up in a world with signs that made it clear where one could go to the bathroom, sit on a bus or go to school.
My family was one of “those” people who weren’t exactly welcome in the town we lived in. Blacks, Mexicans and Jews were “those people” who apparently frightened the people who wanted us gone back to wherever we came from. Like any of us could go “home”?
The attitude in that Texas town was to run out people they didn’t like….”attrition by enforcement” which is ther goal of SB 1070 is just a modern term for “running them out of town”.
The America I grew up in during the late 1940′s and 1950′s was filled with vicious discrimination and hate.
If being opposed to discrimination in all its forms is to be a “liberal” than I am proud to be called a “liberal”.
One definition of a “liberal” I like is that a liberal have a fundamental belief that change is good. This is in contrast to the “conservative” who believes fundamentally that change is bad.
Liberals think government is good for solving problems for the people. Conservatives think government is the problem.
As one gets older and learns of the unintended consequences of good ideas for change going badly, I guess one gets more conservative as one gets older.
My dad used to say if you aren’t a liberal when you are 20 you have no heart. But if you’re not a conservative by the time you are 40, you have no brain. So what is someone who is over 60?
However, people aren’t easily pigeon-holed into a single label.
I remember the first time I hear Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy routine about “you must be a redneck if…”
Remember, I’m originally from Texas. I was thinking, “but of course the dog slept under the front porch, and keeping non-working appliances and automobiles in the yard was what folks did.” Still have a tendency to keep what people call “junk” around the property. The junk is my art supplies.
It is running joke in the family about my version of “redneck engineering” that involves solving any problem with my truck and tin siding. The dog must always be present as an advisor.
I have actually come away from the dump with more stuff than I brought. Too bad most landfills don’t let folks “recycle”….the landfills would never grow if there were enough Rednecks around..
A definition I like about what a “redneck” is says “a tendency to come up with spectacularly inappropriate solutions to problems”.
As a kid whose Texas grandparents didn’t speak English, I grew up in a world where speaking English without a Texas accent was a big deal.
“Don’t sound like them trash” was a common rebuke as my generation was taught “radio English”. Dan Rather grew up in the town down the road from us, also learning “radio English”.
The “trash” were even below the Blacks in Texas social strata.
Trying to sort out the distinction between a “redneck” and “trash” is an interesting experience.
I must admit to a primal fear of ending up living in a trailer.
Then there are the “crackers”. Those of you who share my Southern upbringing know what a “cracker” is. They were the guys who killed Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda at the end of “Easy Rider“.
A lot of the folks ranting about immigration, Mexicans and SB 1070 sound to me like “crackers”.
Maybe, in addition to the Tea Party, Arizona has a “Cracker Party” in the making.
Conservative — libertarian
Now let’s look at the label of “conservative”.
Seems to me there’s two varieties of “conservative” running around.
There’s the libertarian conservative who doesn’t much trust government and believes very strongly in free enterprise and freedom in general. Barry Goldwater epitomizes the libertarian conservative to me.
I spent a lot of my adult life fighting for free enterprise and against stupid government regulation so I kind of have a libertarian streak as well.
While I believe there needs to be some government regulation of stuff, especially to protect us from economic sociopaths like the Wall Street gang that nearly tanked the country, I also bristle when someone tries to put a snail ahead of my job.
The other kind of conservative seeks to use governmental power to force their moral values on the rest of us. I think the term used for this group is “social conservative”. They don’t apparently believe in separation of church and state and constantly inflame the public with issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
I draw the line at government having too much power to be able to try and make me a better person, how ever that is defined.
I guess being the opposite of the “social conservative” crowd is how they define “liberal”.
Amusing how the Republican Party is busy purging itself of “Rino” (Republican in name only) who disagree with the “social conservative” agenda.
Then there is supposedly the anti-tax side of conservatism of “republicanism, or whatever you want to call that.
I really dislike property taxes. More on that some other time.
Some people use the label “environmentalists” with derision.
I also have a strong sense of the need to protect our environment.
A lot of stupid stuff has been done that we will pay for financially and physically for a long time. I draw the line where one group wants to trash our common space, air and water to make a buck and leave the cost to others to have to pay.
However I’m not sure government by itself is going to do the job. We need to identify “negative externalities” and not let people stick us with the bill for their dumping toxic waste into our land, air and water. I think if people have the real cost of things in their faces, they can make intelligent decisions about what is “good” or not. Tucson proved that was the case in the 1970′s when the higher water rates to reflect its “replacement cost ” (after a nasty recall election led by Republicans exploiting the outrage over the water rate increase) that water conservation was good for everyone. Tucson is a much different place now…and the economy didn’t crash as a result.
Finally, I find the “cowboy way” really satisfying as a way to look at and deal with the world. The “cowboy codes” are my mantras.
After I got my first horse, I asked the cowboy who was helping me learn about horses if I was a cowboy yet. He asked me if I’d take another horse that was headed for the killer buyers, and I agreed. “You are now a cowboy,” he said. “What’s the difference?” I asked. “You’re willing to pay to feed two horses,” he answered.
So you can call me a liberal Jewish redneck libertarian environmentalist cowboy. Add a touch of “progressive” and “populist” and that I learned how to shoot when I was 6….and have bought gun raffle tickets from the NRA….and I have a law degree….and am a life-long Democrat….lots of labels here.
How would you describe yourself? A single label? Multiple labels? No labels?
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