Ideologies with Feet

This past weekend there was a political rally for a conservative candidate.  As with all such rallies, both liberals and conservatives were present.

One of the conservative groups decided to bring tents, tables, chairs, and coolers to hand out cold bottles of water to the folks attending the event.  The bottles had the name of the candidate on them.  The tent was filled with local volunteers, from teenagers to senior citizens.

The liberal group brought drums, sirens, whistles, and air horns to make lots of noise.  They sang and shouted at the people walking past them to get to the rally.

It was a cloudless, 90 degree day.

After about an hour, the liberal folks approached the conservative group to ask if they could have some water because they hadn’t brought any with them.  The conservatives were handing the water out, so they gave the liberals bottles to drink. 

Then they noticed that the liberals were stripping the candidate’s name off the bottles and handing the water out as if the liberals had brought it.

So the conservatives informed their liberal neighbors that while the water was still being offered, the person drinking it would have to stand in the presence of the conservative and drink the bottle, and only one bottle per person would be allowed.

The liberals complied.

Then some of the liberals asked if they could stand in the conservatives’ tent for a while to get some relief from the sun.

Again, the conservatives said yes.

Several of the liberals moved into the tent to take advantage of the shade.  But they stood in front of their conservative hosts and continued to shout their slogans at those passing by.

So the conservatives had to inform them that while shade was being offered, those taking advantage of it would have to stay silently in the back of the tent. 

The liberals complied, and for the rest of the time they were in attendance, there was a steady stream of liberal folks standing in the back of the conservative tent, drinking water, and enjoying the shade.

It was like looking at the results of a social experiment.  The conservatives provided for themselves, with enough left over to share with their liberal neighbors, because the conservative philosophy says that people can and should be self-sufficient and then generous.  The liberals had no qualms about re-distributing what they received from their conservative neighbors, because the liberal philosophy says that those who plan and work in order to provide for themselves and their families somehow owe the results of that effort to those who do not, without thanks or recognition.

At the same time, the liberals were dependent upon the conservatives for the water and shade, so they had to accept conditions to receive the handout or do without.  They accepted the conditions because the liberal philosophy says that dependence with conditions is an acceptable trade-off.  The conservatives, on the other hand, were free to determine how and when they shared their water and shade since they had worked and planned to bring it, because the conservative philosophy says that independence is worth the work.

Philosophies are usually expressed in words.  This weekend, the societal results of those words could be seen in the actions of those who believed in each philosophy.  The results of the encounter can best be expressed by saying that without the conservatives that liberals complain about, liberals would be hot and thirsty.

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  • Catherine

    …what does this have to do with Jesus’ teaching and example and the teaching of the Catholic Church?

  • jmtfh

    It sure sounds like the parable of the wise virgins and the foolish virgins, to me!

    And maybe you have heard that little saying, “When I was thirsty, you gave me drink. When I needed shelter, you opened your [tent] home.”

  • When it comes to caring for the poor, the Church is tolerant of a broad spectrum of social policies. Which are best is a matter of prudence. Pluralism is best served with vigorous debate. This column serves to that end.