Can a Conservative Be Intelligent?

 S, a neighbor living down the block, asked me if I thought that a conservative could be intelligent.    The answer seems obvious, though clarification seems most appropriate.

Of course a conservative can be intelligent!   Similarly, a radical leftist or liberal-radical or progressive or whatever can be of limited intelligence.   There is little or no correlation between intelligence and political perspective.

It should also be noted that virtually all people have "blindspots" as well as inconsistencies in our perspectives.     We miss things!

I would say, however, that I believe that many conservatives may show either naivete or ignorance of denial in some areas.   I may, however, similarly, be guilty in some such areas as well!


Part I

In very broad, general terms one can distinguish a "conservative" from a "liberal" in their basic philosophy.    From a conservative's perspective, one should generally focus upon each individual person, rather than groupings of people.

Example:   I, S - determine a lot in my life, based upon how I live my life.   While I may face racism, because I am a Black Man, my being a Black Man does not determine how I do my best in Chicago, Illinois in 2021.  What is most important is how I use my knowledge, my heart, my core religious beliefs and similar in living my life.

When S - looks at - "X" - a "generic" poor Black young man, this young man lives a very different world than S faced, because he is growing up in a world of increased opportunities for Black children, as they grow towards, and into adulthood.   

"X" - may study hard, go to college, and be "successful" in a career.   He may also join a gang, use drugs, and end up in jail or dead at an early age.    He is responsible for the path that he has chosen.    While he will, no doubt, encounter racism in his life, he is responsible for how he responds to the realities of his childhood into his future adulthood.

From a "liberal perspective" (or in part a "radical leftist perspective"), one's focus should relate to systemic issues and how they impact upon individuals, rather than the "successes" or "failures" of individuals.

A liberal white man might look, for example, at his: white, male, upper-middle class, cisgender, able bodied, non-elderly/adult privilege - or at significant individual parts of it.

As a "radicalish" white man, I look seriously at the systemic differences that exist today in 2021.   Childbirth is "dangerous" for Black women in a way that it is "not dangerous" for white women.   Upper-middle class Black women's "perilous realistic state" can be easily seen in their "PRMR" - e.g. pregnancy related mortality rate - which notes women dying both in childbirth and in the year following giving birth, due to their recent birthing of a child.

Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women – and this disparity increases with age

  • The PRMR for black women with at least a college degree was 5.2 times that of their white counterparts. - a study of the Centers for Disease Control report covering 2007-2016

Venus Williams' narrow escape from dying after giving birth is an example, in a systemically related way, of how her "upper class status" did not "protect her" from nearly dying.    

Venus Williams, most probably, did not make "bad choices" - and was not responsible for what happened to her.   It should be noted that my support of looking at systemic differences  does not in any way invalidate the desirability of all people to individually make the best choice they can in all situations.   

Doing the best that one can do to get an excellent education is wise for all children and young adults.   Choosing to prioritize the long term, over immediate results, such as trying to save money to make the purchase of an automobile or residence easier, is often a wise decision.

Recognizing the efficacy of making wise choices may result in a divergence of reactions to such choices, as well as outcomes, between conservatives and liberal/radicals.   A conservative may indicate, for example, that an individual should have done things differently.

Examples of this might include:

1. She should have not engaged in sexual relations at her age (or because she is not married).
2. He should have not dropped out of high school.
3. She should not have been on the streets of her neighborhood after dark.
4. They should have moved to a better neighborhood.

A liberal/radical person might look at these same situations in a different way related to systemic factors.  Using the same examples:

1. Being unmarried does not mean that one is not entitled to engage in sexual relations.   Engaging in sexual relations may relate to sexism, sexual abuse issues, other pressures put upon young women, as well as the logical perceived outcomes of making such choices, where a choice was made.   Where neighborhood peer males rarely get well-paying jobs, both as teenagers, and as older young adults, expecting to live in a "traditional American family" may be an unrealistic expectation for young women to hope for.   In total, one might try to look at "the bigger picture" faced by girls and women, rather than judging choices and results that occur in their lives,

2. Dropping out of high school may be rational or irrational for individual teenage boys.   Various factors may logically affect their actions.   It may be dangerous for them to get to their schools, related to the domains of neighborhood gangs.    Where their reading level is well below their grade level, they may feel that they can not pass their classes and successfully graduate.   There may be few or no school officials, parental or other adult figures, or peers to help them choose to continue in high school.   Again one might want to look at the "bigger picture", rather than rushing to judgment.

3. One should look at why she was out after dark, before even thinking about making a judgment.   Though it may be dangerous to be out after dark, it may be either necessary or desirable for various reasons.

4. Why should anyone need to leave their neighborhood?   What right do I have to blame the family, rather than others such as the mayor, the police, and the general state that allows the poverty of those who live in the neighborhood.    What are the benefits, liabilities, and options that the family faces.


Issues relating to Religion can bring up various differences between conservatives and liberals.

For many conservatives their religion may significantly affect their outlook on various parts of life.   They commonly may believe that "religious freedom" relates to significant parts of their religious beliefs being viewed as more important than (potential) legal constraints or allowable "exceptions" to laws.

Some conservatives believe that doing anything which they believe supports gay, lesbian or trans people in their lives should not be required of them in their business operations.   An example of this is that a "Christian" such as themselves should not be required, as a baker, to make a custom wedding cake for a gay or lesbian couple.

Some conservatives believe that public schools should be allowed to teach or support religious beliefs they have as well as private schools being allowed to both receive public funding and teach their religious beliefs in the private school that their children may attend.

A traditional liberal approach to religion is that we should have as close to an absolute separation of church and state.   A liberal might state that a baker who is openly homophobic might not be the best choice for a gay or lesbian couple, but as a business open to the public, they should provide the service requested - conforming of course to their general limitations, if any - that would apply to heterosexual wedding cakes.   A liberal logically would say that we must protect the rights of all, and should not subsidize religious schools.

The distinctions here often relate to the proposition that the U.S. is a "Christian Nation" - vs. a perspective that the rights of non-Christians should be protected fully, and aren't when we subsidize schools that might, for example, require that attendees not live in a gay or lesbian household.

Part III - Civil Rights Laws through the mid-1960's - 
Their Results:  Part A - Economics
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.[7][8],the%20Act%20five%20times%20to%20expand%20its%20protections.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on racecolor, religion, sex, national origin, and later sexual orientation and gender identity.[a][4] It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, and employment discrimination. The act "remains one of the most significant legislative achievements in American history".[5]

For many conservatives, the passage of these major Civil Rights Acts, following the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision on school segregation, have provided a path that should lead to economic equality.     

What is necessary, then, is for Black People to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps".   This can be done through getting a good education, getting good jobs, saving and buying a good place to live in.  Along with this, they should , avoid doing things that might hinder their progress such as having children while teenagers and committing crimes.

Conservatives often believe that "liberal" efforts to help Black People such as affirmative action, dis-incentivizes the efforts of Black People.   By making Black People feel entitled to jobs that they otherwise wouldn't get, they lack the initiative to achieve in various areas.

Conservatives often believe that it takes time for Black People to success, but that over time Black People should work their way up to an equal achievement level economically.

Liberal and radical people often look at things quite differently.

They often look at aggregate data.   What follows is from Richard Rothstein's book: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America

Patrick Sharkey, a New York University sociologist, analyzed data on race and neighborhood conditions and reported his findings in a 2013 book, Stuck in Place.  … He finds that young African Americans (from thirteen to twenty-eight years old) are now ten times as likely to live in poor neighborhoods as young whites - 66 percent of African Americans, compared to 6 percent of whites.  He finds that 67 percent of African American families hailing from the poorest quarter of neighborhoods a generation ago continue to live in such neighborhoods today.  But only 40  percent of white families who lived in the poorest quarter of neighborhoods a generation ago still do so.


Who owns wealth in the United States?

According to data from the Federal Reserve, in 1990, white households owned 90.7% of household wealth in the United States, whereas Black households owned 3.8% and Hispanic households owned 2.1%. These numbers have changed little over the past 30 years, with white households now owning 85.5% of wealth in 2019, and Black households owning 4.2% and Hispanic households owning 3.1%. Most of the white wealth decline is due to other racial groups attaining a share wealth.

Share of US wealth held by race.  Another way to look at this is the net worth, or assets (such as stocks and real estate) minus liabilities (such as loans and mortgages left to pay), by race. The average net worth per capita among white Americans is roughly $437,000 per person, whereas this value is $105,000 among Black people and $53,000 among Hispanic people.

A liberal person might look at the figures above and note that due to forced segregation, inequality in income and related factors, despite over 50 years since the major Civil Rights legislation Black People are on average significantly less affluent than white people are.   

I'm guessing at what a conservative might say.  Perhaps s/he would indicate that individual Black People needed to use the equal rights that they now have to make up the wealth gap.  Such an individual might also indicate that various liberal programs like affirmative action had had a devastating effect of many Black People, making them feel that they were entitled to better jobs and similar (and as a result didn't do what they needed to do to move ahead significantly.)
Part IV - Wealthy People - Are They the Job Creaters?
Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States.  

Wealthy Americans commonly pay their employees wages and salaries maximizing their own profits and earnings.    They also minimize their own tax liabilities.

Walmart's average pay for cashiers, sales associates, stockers and personal shoppers is $12/hour.

  • We offer medical plans starting at around $26 per pay period, as well as dental and vision plans.

Walmart "Premier Plan" (cheapest regular health plan) per two week pay period for non-smoking (only) employees (smoking employees pay higher rates)

$30.50- Associate (only)

$48.80- Associate and children

$154.10 - Associate and spouse/partner

$180.80 - Associate and Family

$35 - co-pay primary medical care visits

$75 - co-pay specialists

$4- generic prescriptions from Walmart/Sams Club

$300 - emergency room

$2750- individual annual deductible

$5500 - family annual deductible

25% - co-insurance - for outpatient surgery and inpatient treatment.

Walmart has announced that many employees will be paid a minimum of $15/hour

I searched for approximately 15 minutes and was unable to find specific numbers as to how many hours paid employees accrue in leave.   It is clear that sick and vacation time are combined together and that longer term employees get more leave, than newer employees.

A full-time employee at 52 weeks with 40 hours of work per week at $12/hour would earn $24,960/year.   A similar employee at $15/hour would earn $31,200.   If such employees were to pay for health insurance under the Premier plan as a non-smoker, with no dependents their health insurance would cost them: $30.50/two weeks or $793/year - lowering the adjusted income to: $24,167 and $30,407/year.

Social Security employee tax rates are 6.2%.   Medicare employee tax rates are 1.45%.   A

6.2 +1.45 = 7.65.

$24,960 x 7.65% = $1909.44

$31,200 x 7.65% = $2386.80

$24,167 - 1909.44 = 22257.56 divided by 12 = $1854.80/month

$30,407 - 1909.44 = 28497.56 divided by 12 = $23708.10/month

(The Completion of PART IV and succeeding parts to follow as they are written.)


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