The Instigator
theaceb
Pro (for)
Tied
9 Points
The Contender
MineesotaGopher
Con (against)
Tied
9 Points

Michael Savage is not a conservative, he is a neo-conservative authoritarian

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/30/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,251 times Debate No: 1072
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (6)

 

theaceb

Pro

People often cite Michael Savage as a conservative talk show host and author. This couldn't be further from the truth. Savage is a neo-conservative, a huge difference from a true conservative.

Neo-conservatives are in favor of a big government capable of keeping strict surveillance on it's people, enforcing it's social morals, and sustaining an expansionist foreign policy. Most neo-conservatives are in fact former Democrats, disillusioned with the Democrats ties to social liberalism in the 1960's and 70's.

True conservatives are vehemently opposed to big government and an expansionist, interventionist foreign policy. True conservatives may or may not be in favor of "traditional" values, but the majority do not want the government to define what is moral and what is not. This stigma on conservatism came when neo-conservatives
became the dominant faction of the conservative movement in 1970's and 80's.

Michael has made many indications that he is indeed a neo-conservative, including his adamant support for the Iraq war, and an invasion of Iran. Also his support of extensive domestic surveillance and policing of citizens. While he may pay lip service to conservative limited government stances, his stances on various issues prove he is for big government.
MineesotaGopher

Con

Technically speaking, neither side can "win" this debate; what you are arguing is a definition, and definitions by their nature have no inherent meaning to them. Words only mean what we say they mean, and thus if we want to define a word in one way or another we are freely able to.

What I'm going to try to do is demonstrate that defining "conservative" in a specific manner to include Mr. Savage is useful and corresponds to how language is actually used in the real world - the only two ways that we can establish which definition ought to be accepted. I want to clarify that I do not agree with most of what Mr. Savage says, and I will not attempt to defend his viewpoints.Furthermore, I will restrict my discussion to conservatism as it pertains to the United States.

When we speak of political ideologies, we are of course talking about philosophies; the two dominant political parties in the United States today reflect significantly different value-assumptions that alter their perception of what policies ought to be implemented. To find out what a conservative is, then, we have to look at values that "conservatives" have generally held throughout history. The longest lasting party that was conservative in the United States can be said to be the Democratic Party. This is shocking to most people as the modern Democratic Party espouses the ideas of liberalism, but in the past the Democratic Party held quite steadfast to the idea that values ought to not change. During its days as the conservative party in the US, the Democrats could have been said to support socially regressive policies (the most infamous being slavery) and an economic policy that favoured protectionism. Indeed, many Democrats at the time argued that a conservative minority ought to be able to overrule a nonconsevative majority because their ideals were time-tested wisdom. The Republican Party stood as the party of progression when it came to social issues and certaintly when it came to economic issues; the Republican Party continued the ideas of the liberals of Europe who attempted to rally their populations in a bid to overthrow the aristocracy by calling for free(r) markets and less government intervention in the role of the economy (leading to what would settle into a laissez-faire approach to regulating the economy, though not necessarily a laissez-faire approach to economics in general).

The Democrats often attempted to use the idea of "small government" (often "states rights", a cry given by modern Republicans and many libertarians today) not because they were philosophically opposed to the notion of a larger government, but rather continued liberalism was threatening their way of life. Indeed, the Democrats had little problem attempting to use the federal government to protect (by whatever means possible) the South's "peculiar institution". Small government was little more than an attempt to safeguard the interests of the aristocracy that had entrenched itself in large portions of the United States - eerily resembling the conservative/liberal division in Europe (with aristocrats monarchs being conservatives and free marketers/those who valued liberty being liberal).

As time progressed, the Democratic Party began to move toward more populist issues (though it would be a Republican who would set off the "Progressive era" in the United States), encountering two particularly radical shifts with the policies of both FDR and LBJ (the latter of whom would leave an opening for the Republican Party to become very socially conservative), however conservatives in the United States have always used government in an attempt to secure whatever ideals that they found expedient.

Our modern history, of course, is more interesting and more relevant, and here the idea that Michael Savage would be a conservative is one that is not contradicted. With the organisation of the religious right (and their victories, for instance, in electing Ronald Reagan and in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment) the conservative movement in the United States has trended toward social and, to an increasing extent, economic conservatism. All those who would be identified as "modern-day conservatives" have consistently advocated that the state apparatus be used in order to actualise some notion of "traditional values" or some notion of "patriotism" (the latter of which became particularly severe post 9-11). Laws that attempted to limit the negative liberty rights of gays, women, and other minorities were consitently followed through by most of the self-identified conservatives. At its heart, conservatism is a movement that seeks to preserve the old order, and throughout American history the US conservative movement has consistently sought to do this.

Mr. Savage has advocated a ban on muslim immigration, an extreme form of jingoism in an attempt to protect what he sees as proper American culture and values (a distinctly conservative position), he calls for a weakening of the separation of church and state (a distinctly socially conservative position, one that reminds us of the conservatives of Europe who also wanted/want to keep their state religions in place), and he constantly speaks to traditional values. This is behaviour that has been seen throughout the whole history of the conservative movement in the United States, it is behaviour that has come to be associated with what it means to be a "true conservative" (I would note the Republican presidential candidates all appealing to a variety of measures that would violate individual liberty in an attempt to prove that they are the most "conservative" - it is seen as a good thing), and when most people identify as a conservative they do not mean it in the "Live and let live" sense (Which has never existed in the US conservative movement and is, fundamentally, liberalism) - they mean it in a "we must protect American (read: socially conservative) values".

"Small government" is not the defining characteristic of conservatism, but rather a closed-mindedness to progressive change is the defining characteristic of conservatism. Conserving the old order is where the word comes from, and conservative movements have never had objection to using government in order to accomplish this. Not even an expansionist foreign policy is contradictory to the actions of the conservative movement in the United States: Conservatives were among the most vocal supporters of expanding US power overseas (though only within the framework of a US-supremacist view), and strong nationalistic sentiment has defined modern conservative movements around the globe for nearly a century; it is a logical conclusion that the US, being the most powerful nation in the world, is a more effective for expansionist agenda than others. The so-called neoconservative movement does indeed have its roots in liberalism and progressivism, but it has strayed so far that it almost wholly resembles conservatism (certainly in the modern sense, and probably in the broader sense). As well, conservative movements across the globe too have been defined in the great value they place on what they perceived to be "security" - Mr. Savage is no different in this regard.

I personally think it is admirable that you do not subscribe to these notions; but if you truly value liberty, what you ought to identify as is a libertarian or a liberal, not a conservative. Mr. Savage, along with most of the Republican Party today, is conservative in its nature and most people readily identify it as conservative. Self-identified conservatives overwhelmingly vote Republican, and the Republican Party espouses views very similar to those of Mr. Savage. Thus, I cannot agree with you when you say that he is not a "true conservative" - if he is not a true conservative, then the term becomes meaningless since his behaviours and beliefs stack up with what we have traditionally seen from conservatives.
Debate Round No. 1
theaceb

Pro

theaceb forfeited this round.
MineesotaGopher

Con

MineesotaGopher forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
theaceb

Pro

Hmm well this may not be exactly fair, being that my last argument was posted in the comment section, so MineesotaGopher wouldn't have gotten an e-mail saying it's his/her turn to argue. So if you feel this had any impact on the debate, take it into account when voting.
MineesotaGopher

Con

MineesotaGopher forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Black.Nite17 9 years ago
Black.Nite17
I think theaseb made some good points, which won my vote.

For the record.
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
Yeah I understand he uses hyperboles frequently:

"You should only get AIDS and die you pig"

"In my day, [Rosie O'Donnel] would have her head shaved and marched down the street as people spat on her and tried for sedition"

etc, etc

I listen to him whenever I can because, for this reason, he is very entertaining.
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
I have listened to Michael since he debuted on KSFO in about 1997, nearly daily

He is a highly intelligent and educated man with an entertaining radio style

That being said, most of his very hyperbolic rants railing against liberals or the ACLU , or about nuking Iran, or criticizing Bush etc are just a SHTICK

You have to understand that radio is about RATINGS, plain and simple

Since Rush and Shaun and Mark have the republcan arguments very well done and are quite adept at their shows, Savage wisely takes the "independent conservative" position, by bashing Bush, along with the libs

I dont think he really beleives half of what he says- it is just good radio

Only if you have listened to him long enough wold you really understand this

SOLARMAN
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
Sorry about this, I just barely missed the deadline. So here's my argument for round 3 in several comments. DISREGARD THE 4TH COMMENT DOWN, because I messed up ridiculously bad, and repeated a section

First, let me say that this debate can exist outside the realm of just definitions. I agree that is a large factor, however a person could debate me as to whether Savage himself, truly supports limited government, or interventionism. However in this argument I will only focus on the rebuttal of my opponent's argument about definitions.

Let me clarify that by conservative or liberal, I am referring to the American conservative or liberal, not the historical or classical definition of conservative and liberal, which I realize is much less defined. Even more so, I am referring to liberal and conservative in denotative senses. Therefore I am referring to conservatism and liberalism as an ideology and a definition, rather than a philosophy.

Let me also say that I am referring to the U.S. conservative movement of the last hundred years or so. I understand that it is important to understand its' history before this, but for the sake of this argument, I am talking about U.S. conservatives of relatively recent history.
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
"The Democrats often attempted to use the idea of "small government" (often "states rights", a cry given by modern Republicans and many libertarians today) not because they were philosophically opposed to the notion of a larger government, but rather continued liberalism was threatening their way of life."

This is true, however I would say that someone who espouses smaller government simply because larger government threatens their values, is not a true limited government conservative. In fact big government does not lie inherently in U.S. liberalism either. The aspect of big government comes from neither one of prominent American ideologies, it comes from statism. Both ideologies are guilty of using facets of statism to define their values. A true conservative is a person who believes in small government because he believes it is inherently bad. This is the fundamental of American conservatism.

"The so-called neoconservative movement does indeed have its roots in liberalism and progressivism, but it has strayed so far that it almost wholly resembles conservatism (certainly in the modern sense, and probably in the broader sense)"

It resembles statism (from dictionary.com: the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.). The conservative and liberal movements, as I said both advocate aspects of statism, however it is not a fully conservative philosophy. It is something wholly different from liberalism or conservatism, just how libertarianism is something wholly different from liberalism or conservatism.
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
"Small government" is not the defining characteristic of conservatism, but rather a closed-mindedness to progressive change is the defining characteristic of conservatism."

I would say the opposite (while both are very prominent characteristics of American conservatism). To assess what a conservative and a liberal are, we also have to look not just at the classical or historic interpretations of the words but the denotative interpretation of the words themselves. According to dictionary.com, Conservative: "cautiously moderate or purposefully low," Liberal: "given freely or abundantly; generous/not strict or rigorous; free; not literal." If this is a definition of words how is this relevant in application to politics? Well using the literal definition of the words is largely how conservatism and liberalism is defined politically. For instance, fiscal conservatives (government spends less money), foreign policy conservatives (less intervention), (etc.). In the U.S., the movements are defined by their classical incarnation and the denotative meanings of the words themselves.

That being said the model of the American conservative of the last century essentially advocates government defining "traditional values" (social conservatism, derived from classical conservatism) and advocates smaller government/less spending (fiscal/buerocratic conservatism, derived from the denotative definition of conservatism). Therefore I would consider libertarians on the basic level to be conservatives, obviously not in a social sense, but as legitimate advocates of smaller government.
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
"Small government" is not the defining characteristic of conservatism, but rather a closed-mindedness to progressive change is the defining characteristic of conservatism."

I would say the opposite (while both are very prominent characteristics of American conservatism). To assess what a conservative and a liberal are, we also have to look not just at the classical or historic interpretations of the words but the denotative interpretation of the words themselves. According to dictionary.com, Conservative: "cautiously moderate or purposefully low," Liberal: "given freely or abundantly; generous/not strict or rigorous; free; not literal." If this is a definition of words how is this relevant in application to politics? Well using the literal definition of the words is largely how conservatism and liberalism is defined politically. For instance, fiscal conservatives (government spends less money), foreign policy conservatives (less intervention), (etc.). In the U.S., the movements are defined by their classical incarnation and the denotative meanings of the words themselves.

That being said the model of the American conservative of the last century essentially advocates government defining "traditional values" (social conservatism, derived from classical conservatism
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
The model of the American liberal is generally more socially permissible (social liberalism, derived from classical liberalism), and advocates bigger government (fiscal/buerocratic liberalism, derived from the denotative definition of liberalism.)

"when most people identify as a conservative they do not mean it in the "Live and let live" sense (Which has never existed in the US conservative movement and is, fundamentally, liberalism"

Liberals also sometimes use the government to define certain values as well. Such as removal of religious icons from government owned places (I realize not all or even many liberals support this, however this policy tends to be grounded in the liberal movement). Therefore libertarians are classically liberal, however in the modern incarnation they are not liberal, because generally libertarians want the government to uphold individuals liberty, but do not want the government to be involved at all with DEFINING social values.

The aspect of social conservatism, as you showed, has existed in American conservatism very early on (Democratic party in the 1800's), and was more heavily defined in the modern era in the 1950's-70's in reaction to many of the socially progressive movements of the time. The aspect of true buerocratic and fiscal conservatism gained prominence in reaction to the rise of Progressivism in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Such as in opposition to many of Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust policies, and later, FDR's New Deal.
Posted by theaceb 9 years ago
theaceb
Now expansionism/interventionism began to be associated with the conservative movement when Democrats (generally more liberal leaning) disillusioned with the Democratic party's support of many progressive/liberal social values, moved to the Republicans (generally more conservative leaning). These people are known as the neo-conservatives. These people took over the Republican party and much of the conservative movement, therefore changing the publics' popular opinion of what American conservatism truly is. Neo-conservatives support social policies of conservatives, and the big government policies of the liberals, which is directly incompatible with the tenet of buerocratic/fiscal conservatism in the conservative movement. This further distances expansionism from true conservatives, being that war mongers were former Democrats. Now I realize that Democrats do not fully represent liberalism and Republicans do not fully represent conservatism. However since they are the main parties, they are influential in defining the two main ideologies.

That being said, Michael Savage does not fit the model of the American conservative. Being a stark interventionist, and social conservative, he is a neo-conservative, which are not true American conservatives at all. You state that Savage supports extreme jingoism and government defining values, which can be interpreted as a conservative value. This is true, but it is also a neo-conservative value, neo-conservatives are partially conservative (in a social sense).

"I personally think it is admirable that you do not subscribe to these notions; but if you truly value liberty, what you ought to identify as is a libertarian or a liberal, not a conservative."

On my profile, I do identify myself as a centrist who leans highly libertarian, however I believe libertarians are very conservative (in the denotative definition of conservatism).
Posted by adamh 9 years ago
adamh
Ah, another classic Ron Paul libertarian throwing around meaningless arguments about what a "true" conservative is and over-using the term "neo-con". Surprise, surprise. A conservative is not a libertarian, as similar as they are in certain respects they do have differences.
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Vote Placed by Black.Nite17 9 years ago
Black.Nite17
theacebMineesotaGopherTied
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