Conservatives aren't bizarre

Janis Jaquith claims to know what conservatives think [November 24: "Say what? What we mean when we talk"], but I'm puzzled about why she's attempting to argue that conservatives are so essentially different from liberals that we make sense only in some sadistic "parallel universe."

Conservatives are not wrong-headed in realizing that all humans respond to "rewards and punishments." Life is hard. If we weren't sensitive to what works and what doesn't, and if we didn't try to provide as much as we can through self-discipline, we'd be extinct. If this process ever breaks down, we will be.

We also know that we need each other. Humans have survived and succeeded by working together. We can't live without love and compassion– without each other. I wonder how Jaquith has reached adulthood without realizing that we need both– and that neither can exist without the other.

What we have in this country is a beautiful medium, a fragile balance between these two ideals. We push and pull at where the line in the middle should be– preserve independence and innovation, or provide for the needs of everyone? I for one respect and admire what those before us have passed down, what we are charged to preserve– a working democracy.

What I don't respect and most definitely do not admire is the suggestion that I think helping others is evil (I volunteer weekly teaching adults to read), that I must believe in God to be conservative (the idea of any god gives me the creeps), that I think rich people are "better" (the only thing I think they're better at is making money), or that the best argument I can come up with for setting limits on the redistribution of wealth is a blank stare.