When it Comes to War, it Seems Liberals Become “Conservative” and Conservatives Become “Liberal”

liberal-conservative-warA funny thing occurred to me during this escalating debate over what we should do about Syria — the sudden change of philosophies as it relates to liberals and conservatives.

See, on any normal day conservatives constantly harp on about spending and being “fiscally responsible.”  Which we all know is completely ridiculous.

Here’s a rule: You can’t call yourselves the party for “fiscal responsibility” when it’s been over a half century since a president from your party has actually balanced the budget.

So while conservatives ridiculously claim to represent fiscal conservatism, liberals often don’t mind spending money as long as it’s for programs which they think help people and are needed.

Yet when it comes to war, especially the debate about Syria, it seems the roles are reversed.

Now, I’ll admit the tea party Republicans have often preached a lot about the costs of going to Syria.  But let’s be honest, if Obama wasn’t President they’d be some of the first ones calling for some kind of military strike.  It’s simply because President Obama has publicly endorsed military action that many of them oppose it.

But many “mainstream” Republicans have openly endorsed military intervention in Syria.  Such action will cost billions of dollars if the military does become engaged.

Then again, this is the Republican party.  They seem to always support war and bloated defense contracts. Two extremely expensive items.  But that’s what happens when your party is largely backed by big defense contractors.

Yet when it comes to liberals, it seems they suddenly become very “fiscally conservative” when it comes to war.  Whenever I’ve posted something about Syria, the majority of comments consist of two things:

  • We’ll kill innocent people
  • We can’t afford it

The first is valid; yes, if we bomb Syria, innocent people will die.  But that’s not the real issue, or at least it shouldn’t be.   The question should be will our bombings help expedite the end of the civil war, thus curtailing the overall death toll when it’s all said and done?

I simply don’t get the argument, “If we get involved, innocents will die.”  Innocents have already, and will continue to die regardless of what we do.  Whether or not we get involved is not going to change that.  So the argument that “innocents” will die is only valid if innocent death hasn’t been occurring.  Which it clearly has.

The second I simply can’t agree with.  Going to war should never be about the money.  Doing the “right thing” shouldn’t be only limited to what you can afford.

Now I’m not saying that getting involved in Syria is the “right thing” to do, I’m simply saying if war (at any point or situation) is the “right thing to do,” the decision to go shouldn’t be based on how much it might cost.

I’m sure many might not agree with me on this, but it’s just the way I feel.  I can’t look at a situation which I might feel needs my help and say, “Well I would love to, I just can’t afford to.”

I don’t view Syria as a situation of “what we can afford.”  Human lives, human rights and the debate over what’s right and wrong is what matters—not money.

Because while there are many valid reasons to avoid going to war, money shouldn’t be one of them.

But it is slightly ironic how liberals rarely talk about the “cost” of anything—except when it comes to war.  While conservatives seem to never shut up about the cost of everything— except when it comes to war.

It seems when it comes to war, the “roles” are slightly reversed.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Scott Smith

    As a “liberal” (neither Republican or Democrat) and a veteran, my main objection to military conflicts isn’t the monetary loss (which is a valid point), but the loss of life (both military and civilian).

    • William Carr

      I suppose the question is; if we hit Assad directly, does that stop civilian deaths?

      His regime will sprout a new head, make threats, and then back off nervously.

      The “rebels” will cheer, but they’ll be no closer to winning, really. The original rebels are all dead or gone.

      Would hitting Assad dissuade the use of chemical weapons?

      Well, did hitting Bin Laden hurt Al Qaeda ? I think it crippled them.

  • Angel Rivera

    It’s funny, but sad that policy is going along how much the politicians hate the other side than the merits of said policy…

  • SketchyD

    IMO, a sensible person should start answering issues of war/humanity with a liberal mindset. Conservatism isn’t just reserved for those who only think in terms of dollars, staunchly hate Obama or always vote Republican, it has its place in any reasonable political viewpoint. And as a moderate liberal- no, we cant afford war in Syria. Or anywhere else, unfortunately. The will of the people to overextend ourselves was wasted on illegal US wars over energy since the 90’s.