Morality determined by how the poor are treated
By Abbi Overfelt
To the editor,
In a recent article, John Hood defends the morality, as conservatives view it, of actions taken by the current Republican-dominated state government. I agree with his claim that the “conservatives now in charge of … state government … don’t believe they are sacrificing morality on the alter of political expediency.” And for liberals to charge conservatives with conscious immorality is itself immoral, not to mention being illiberal.
Conservatives tend to object to the opposition’s calling itself the “Moral Monday movement” because it implies that they themselves are less moral. Actually, the Moral Monday folks are in the “johnny-come-lately” role in adopting this tactic. For years, the conservative “Moral Majority” allowed that same conclusion to be made of liberals. In fact, they did an effective job of promoting that view. Nowadays conservatives running for office tend to emphasize how very conservative they are; in North Carolina, how often does a non-conservative candidate brag about his liberal credentials?
In any case, the people on each side of the political spectrum are convinced that they know best and that therefore the state needs for them to be in control. So, each side feels justified in giving preferential treatment to those elements of society that tend to support it at the polls. One consequence of this fact is that liberals, true to the definition of “liberal,” tend to give a high priority to helping those people who are having a hard time making ends meet, even when that hits the pocketbooks of the rest of us harder. Is that liberal approach, by its nature, more moral than the conservative alternative of helping the poor by way of helping the rest of the population and letting the benefits “trickle down?” At the very least, it is as moral as the conservative approach.
I don’t claim that moderate-to-liberal efforts to help those who need help the most are always wiser and more effective than conservative efforts: they most likely are not in many cases. I do think, however, that moderates and liberals are more likely than conservatives to support legislation that focuses on the betterment of conditions for our state’s poor.
And surely a major factor in judging any government’s morality is how well the poorest and the least powerful in its charge are treated.
Allen C. Dotson
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