Conservative   con·ser·va·tive   (kən-sûr′və-tĭv)  believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society;  disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

It is indicative of the extremism sweeping America when, after spending all of my life thinking of myself as a “liberal” or “progressive,” now in my 70’s, I find I must join with other conservatives to fight the radical changes destroying my nation. I must declare I have become an unapologetic conservative.

As an unapologetic conservative, I wish to preserve the traditional government established by my ancestors. I oppose the subversive use of a business model in government. Government should serve as it has for more than 200 years – for all, with no thought of profit or privatization for the benefit of the billionaire class at the expense of working citizens.

As a conservative, I oppose the radical sale of public assets paid for by my predecessors. I oppose privatizing prisons. True justice for Americans will never be found when “justice” is dictated by profit motives and greed. Water is a human right. Public ownership of water utilities has served our communities well for generations. Highways should remain traditional public property.

As an unapologetic conservative it has become painfully clear that while my parents and grandparents could afford to build beautiful roads, bridges and other public structures serving the common good, today – even though America is richer than ever – “we the people” cannot even afford to repair them. Extremist politicians give endless tax breaks to billionaires and corporations while working people and farmers see their cars and trucks torn to shreds on crumbling pavement.

As a conservative, I believe in the free market. Corporations should be required to survive on their own merits and productivity and not be given endless public subsidies, free public land, long term release from property taxes, and other forms of socialism while the rest of us are condemned to “rugged individualism.” Billionaire corporations like Amazon and other tech giants have become expert at roaming the nation in search of the most gullible politicians allowing the greatest “legal” extortion of public funds. We need to return to the free market.

As an unapologetic conservative, I wish to preserve our public schools. They are the heart of rural communities and urban neighborhoods, the soul of democracy. The radicals who chose to de-fund these public schools by giving tax dollars to private schools trampled on generations of wise tradition.  Gone is the age-old separation of church and state established by our forefathers who had experienced firsthand the great harm that eventually comes to every society that mixes government and religion.  No matter what our personal feelings on the subject, we will all pay a dear price – churches and civil society alike – if this extreme break with tradition continues.

But more immediately, the rabid privatization schemes of the Walton family, the Broad family, the DeVoss family, and other uber-rich who see our children as profit mechanisms and divert public tax dollars to their private “schools” for personal gain undermine any thought of “we as a people” working for the common good. It changes our country, our state, in ugly ways. My grandchildren are not “customers” to be used to grow the fortunes of billionaires. I want them in the hands of traditional public-school teachers harboring no ulterior motives.

Wisconsin’s public schools are suffering because of loss of funding due to this privatization, especially in rural communities. If this radical break with tradition continues, farming communities will see an end to their football team, an end to their marching band, an end to art and music classes, an end to extracurricular activities, an end to the very heart of their towns and villages as their schools are forced to close. Children will be required to travel long distances by bus to other communities through school mergers, or receive their “education” online sitting in front of a computer.

As an unapologetic conservative, I wish to restore the progressive and corporate taxes enacted under conservative Republican President Eisenhower that required the wealthy to pay their fair share. Undermining these traditional taxes caused state government deficits to balloon and these same taxes created employment by ensuring the legitimate distribution of wealth necessary for robust consumer demand – the only true job creator.

As a conservative I am adamantly opposed to voting fraud. The radical, unethical gerrymandering carried out by corrupt, self-serving politicians from both parties is one of the greatest assaults on democracy America has ever known. I want this fraud ended through non-partisan redistricting and a return to democracy.

As a conservative, I oppose any cuts to Social Security and Medicare. These traditional earned benefits have kept millions of our hard-working seniors out of poverty in their old age. If we as a society can pay literally trillions of dollars for 18 years of failed wars in the middle east, killing thousands of our own young people and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in these other nations to protect the endless greed of giant oil corporations, we can afford to take care of our elderly.

As an unapologetic conservative, I absolutely believe we must amend the Constitution to overturn the radical, precedent destroying Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision viewing corporations as “people.” This shameful decision allows virtually endless campaign contributions by the richest of the rich. We no longer have democracy in America. Our politicians are purchased by billionaires. They pay for the slick television adds we all see telling us their chosen politician is “one of us,” a person who will “fight for the common man,” slick adds showing candidates toting guns as if such childish, fear mongering insanity will improve the economic life of our families.  Billionaires make their fortunes on the backs of working Americans and they purchase politicians to serve their own greed driven goals. It matters little which political party is purchased.

One could go on for pages about the truly radical changes that are being enacted across our nation and I will no doubt be condemned by many for what I have already written. But I hope it serves a purpose. We as a people are being deliberately and methodically torn asunder. It’s called “divide and conquer.” Gun rights, abortion, immigrants, illegal aliens, Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, and finally our next-door neighbor, are all being used to foment hatred, to keep us at one another’s throats.

But the ruling class perpetrating this division couldn’t care less how many fetuses are aborted, couldn’t care less how many of us shoot each other, couldn’t care less how many immigrants, blacks, Jews or Muslims are killed in hatred. They just want us turned against each other so we don’t see the real enemy, so we don’t see the real cause of our struggles, so we don’t see the real reason so many of our children and grandchildren find it impossible to “get ahead.” America is now an oligarchy. A nation ruled by the rich, for the rich. What happens to the rest of us is of no consequence. We are pawns in the game. As “conservatives” as “liberals,” we need to begin thinking clearly, we need to come together. Our nation is genuinely at stake.