Monday, May 12, 2008

What's the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?

[No, not a joke, but an analogy that helps explain the difference between liberals and conservatives in a way students understand. Working its way around the internet again, this time it comes from my parents....]

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had t o be the truth and she indicated so to her father.

Her father responded by asking how she was doing in school. Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican Party."


breeze said...

more accurate:

"Well, if you want to help your friend, why don't you suggest to her that she borrow some GPA from a Chinese student, and then have her children pay it back with interest. Then neither you nor her will have to suffer".

That would reflect what Republicans these days are really all about.

Anonymous said...

Rewarding poor behavior, huh?

So the poor kids in my kindergarten class who get extra funding to make up for their uneducated/drug-addled/single mom/imprisoned father/gang neighborhood, etc. when we give them special reading programs? Let's make sure they stay behind in school - that'll teach them!

Or investing money in rehabilitation programs in prison so that criminals can begin to rebuild their lives when they get outside is rewarding them? Let's let them sit in a jail cell and never teach them the skills of self-reflection and emotional management - that'll teach them!

Or providing more funding for drug intervention programs is rewarding poor behavior? Let's let them continue using and abusing drugs, stealing and hurting their families - that'll teach them!

I think you get my point. There is a limit to deterrence, especially when there is a lack of consciousness to begin with. When was the last time you thought stealing a TV would be a good idea? How about smoking crack? Abusing your children? Chances are that the punishment if you got caught had very little to do with your decision not to do any of those things. Chances are you knew better. Chances are you are a well-adjusted individual with a strong sense of yourself and what you can accomplish.

The problem with contemporary conservatism is that it has a very difficult time understanding basic human behavior. Maybe this is because it lacks a belief in the very idea of placing oneself in another's shoes to begin with.

It is de rigeur for a liberal to immediately try and step into another's shoes to try and learn more about why they took a particular course of action. Untold insight is gained through this process. Not only do we learn more about others, but we ultimately learn about ourselves - our assumptions, biases, etc.

Not that liberalism is without bias, for it is human nature to be so. But looking outside ourselves is an intrinsic liberal process - exemplified in liberal concepts such as moral relativism, multiculturalism, deconstructionism, socialism, naturalism, etc.

Anonymous said...

The previous commenter makes a very good point. Let's address that. The daughter in the original story should be called upon to distribute points off of her grade to people who aren't even enrolled in the class because they can't afford to attend college, or they are children of drug addicts, or have been victims of poor parenting or cultural mores that place no value on education.

There that fixes the analogy to fit better. Hope that makes the daughter more sensitive to grade redistribution than just giving it to her partying friend.