It is my guess that Mr. Jeffrey Coakley and those who identify with what he describes as conservative values do not understand how their perception of the world has brought America to the point of mass protests. Nor do they see that their viewpoints are based on judgment; which amounts to feeling better than those whom they deem as being freeloaders, immoral or inferior. Nor would they agree that benefiting society is more important than unlimited access to what they want for themselves.
Conservatives, as described by Mr. Coakley, claim to love “country and flag.” But their stance is against our government using legislation to protect health, safety and the natural environment that sustains us. Their stance is against embracing all races, religions and creeds; running counter to what our flag represents. Their idea of “rule of law” is interpreted as no one interfering with their constitutional freedoms. So, respecting civic responsibility or consideration for others are interpreted as restraints that compromise their rights. They can say they love America but their views indicate that they don’t love democracy.
Mr. Coakley’s letter states that “destiny is a product of one’s choices.” That mindset implies that life is as simple as working hard and making good decisions. I don’t think anyone sets out to fail. Family, race, intelligence are not choices; nor are insurmountable circumstances, cancer or the established rate of minimum wages. Education was once considered an avenue to level the playing field of opportunity, yet Mr. Coakley espouses that “equality means equal opportunity, but not equal results.” So, somehow it’s still the fault of the Ivy League educated black lawyer or politician when they meet with discrimination and suspicion.
Mr. Coakley wrote, “Fair means everyone plays by the same rules.” That’s a nice sentiment if you’re white and hold all the power. But our society in no way grants minorities and immigrants a fair stake in the game. For voters who believe in “everyone playing by the rules,” it seems hypocritical to elect a man who has used a team of lawyers his whole life to avoid the law when it came to his charges of bank fraud, tax evasion, sexual misconduct and building code violations.
According to Mr. Coakley’s description, you’re conservative if you believe that your morality on the subject of abortion is superior; giving you the right to dictate the decisions that a woman makes about her own body. But no one should dictate the conditions regarding your ownership of a lethal weapon that kills people. You value “doing good.” But you hold beliefs that allow you to look down upon, reject or hold a grudge against people who look, think and act differently than you do.
There are those among the comfortable, wealthy or powerful class who fear giving voice to the majority of Americans who see the need for change. That’s why there is so much frustration being expressed by the protesters. Lofty platitudes have always been the conservative’s way to avoid acknowledging the complexities and hardships of others.
If you don’t accept that acts of humility, compassion or tolerance have value in the way a political party governs its people, then you should probably vote Republican as Mr. Coakley suggests. Or you could be part of the solution by expanding your social consciousness beyond any exaggerated and false assumptions espoused by conservative sources meant to close hearts and minds.
Martha Hodges is a resident of Kailua-Kona.