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Worried About Thanksgiving Fights with Right-Wing Family Members?

How to counter 10 of the most common myths conservatives believe about progressives.

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Besides, any 10-year-old who's played Monopoly (or any adult who's been within reach of a TV or newspaper in the past two months) can tell you how free markets invariably end up. One person ends up owning the whole game board, and everybody else ends up broke. Game over. That's not an accident; it's just how capitalist systems work. Good regulation can go a long way toward preventing that, too.

It can also be argued that conservatives don't really believe in free markets, either. Truly free markets can only work if there's also a free market in labor -- which means open borders (it's fun to drop this suggestion with a broad wink on border-fence grognards) and unfettered collective bargaining -- neither of which are exactly pet conservative causes.

Because free-market theory also asserts that markets only work right when people can make rational, fully-informed choices, they break down if there's not a parallel free market in information, too. If conservatives really believed in free markets, they'd support efforts to preserve and maintain that market. Keeping good information flowing means putting tight regulations on media consolidation, and firm limits around how far advertising and PR firms can go to stretch the truth or bury negative information. It also means abolishing laws that deprive consumers of important purchasing information, like food-libel laws and federal bans on rGHB labeling. It's a rare conservative who's willing to go that far to protect the sanctity of the free market.

4. Liberals hate our troops.

We love our troops. We love them so much that we want them brought home safe and sound to their families, as soon as possible.

This one's almost depressingly easy. Who blocked the new GI Bill because it might encourage troops not to re-up? Who refused to increase VA funding? Who oversaw last year's debacle at Walter Reed? Who is making soldiers buy their own body armor?

News flash: it ain't the libruls. Putting a yellow ribbon decal on your car is not enough. Making sure our troops have everything they need to do their jobs -- and keeping our promises to them when they get home -- is putting our money where our mouth is. Liberals have been there doing the heavy lifting from the start, while the conservatives in government have been nowhere on the scene unless there was a photo op involved.

5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans.

…as opposed to those sainted corporate men-of-the-people who fly around in private jets and pull down eight-figure salaries while closing plants and cutting 10,000 jobs at a time. That's what real populism looks like, you betcha.

Liberals are funny people. We think that sending well-paid American jobs overseas is a bad idea. We think the minimum wage should be big enough to cover life's necessities, with some left over. We think it's insane that over half the bankruptcies in the country are due to lack of adequate medical insurance. We think everybody who has the grades should have a shot at college. And we believe that middle-class prosperity is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy democracy -- because history (via Kevin Phillips) has taught us that no democracy that's tolerated our current levels inequality has ever survived for long.

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how many conservatives making this accusation have never stopped and taken stock of the role government has played in making their own middle-class life possible. Their dad or granddad got through college on the GI Bill. They financed their own education with Pell Grants and federally-guaranteed loans. They grew up in FHA or VA-funded houses, and collected fat mortgage interest deductions -- which, right there, ensured their family's place in the middle class. They went to decent public schools -- and, perhaps, state universities. They're several thousand dollars richer every month because they're off the hook for Grandma's living expenses, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. They or their parents may have started businesses with help from the Small Business Administration, or relied on government advice and subsidies to keep the farm going. They work for businesses that depend on government contracts.

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