Once I finished reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' post "Conservatism and Power," I realized that Coates summed up the reasons why I have found identifying with American conservatism difficult:
"Taken in sum you have an ideology, whatever its laudable merits, that will almost always, necessarily, look charitably upon those with power, or those who control the institutions, and skeptically upon those without power, or those who seek to change those institutions" (T. Coates, "Conservatism and Power," The Atlantic Online, 3.16.10)
I don't see the relevance of hate crimes legislation, we have existing laws that, if applied appropriately, would suffice. I believe that we should really re-examine affirmative action policies to reflect the significant changes that have occurred since its inception, while acknowledging that problems continue. I am cool with the death penalty and a woman's right to choose. I am for civil marriage equality, as well as for divorce. I am for a health insurance system where everyone has access via a public program like our seniors, veterans and military members enjoy, coupled with private insurance for those who want more coverage.
I am not an isolationist, but I do think that we need to re-examine our foreign policy. I believe that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be eliminated. I am totally against pre-emptive war, and I think that a thorough investigation of the Bush administration's use of contractors and intelligence gathering policies is beyond warranted. I believe that we do have to have serious entitlement reform, because it is true that the current systems are not sustainable as they are.
I believe that this idea of continually cutting taxes is completely unrealistic, especially if we want government to continue to do things. I think that we need to be extremely aggressive about rebuilding our infrastructure. I think it would be helpful to consider developing national education standards and exiting exams, with the hope of mitigating the glaring discrepancies among the various states. I think that we need to re-install various New Deal era economic policies (with a 21st century twist), policies that ushered in one of the longest periods of economic growth across the classes in American history. I believe that we should legalize drugs and tax them, as we do cigarettes and alcohol. I think that we should consider renovating the nation's public housing and develop a rent to own program for the residents, thus encouraging home ownership, and generating additional property tax revenues.
I don't believe that unions are bad, but I do think that the teachers' unions have a bit too much power (and not enough great results). I think that if we build a wall along the Mexican border, then there better be one coming for the Canadian border too. I believe that there is climate change, and that things should be done to mitigate the most negative effects. I think that the idea of a green revolution will help the United States regain its total superior status on the planet (we do have challengers, particularly China). And, I believe that historic preservation and community revitalization through preservation can be key components to bringing this country out of our economic mess.
Now with all of those various positions stated (and that is far from a complete list), I don't know if that makes me a liberal, libertarian, moderate, or some combination of those things, but I do know that Coates' point makes very good sense to me.