Responsible decision-making and financial independence through small government were the two reoccurring themes of Tammy Bruce’s Wednesday lecture. "Conservatism for me, after identifying as a liberal and certainly still identifying as a feminist, is the belief in small government, low taxes, and people staying out of my life and also being able to keep as much of my money as I possibly can," she said.
The lecture, entitled "Contrary to Popular Belief: How Conservative Ideas Empower Gays, Blacks, and Women" portrayed Bruce’s unique definition of conservatism, which held a mixture of Republican and Libertarian ideologies. Bruce, who is an openly gay nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, addressed financial independence as the most important step for minorities, gays, and women to gain control over their own lives and choices.
Financial freedom, Bruce said, meant "being able to make the choices that best suit you." For women, people of color, and gays, she said that financial freedom was especially important "because inevitably, there has been a pattern where we have been [financially] reliant on either a group or the government or a family unit." Bruce added that as long as people were dependent on any other group, whether it was their parents, a spouse, or the government, they could never truly make decisions independently.
A significant amount of Bruce’s argument for small government stemmed from instances where the government had failed to act effectively. "When we think back in the past eight years, was government a point for good after Katrina? How good was government there? Is government good when it comes to the mold at Walter Reed hospital? Has government been good for you when you go to the damn DMV?" said Bruce. She added that the impersonal nature of government was a major reason that it was ineffective. "Any place where you are seen as a number or a feeder into a dynamic that is so big, there is no way that you can matter, and you’re in trouble. And that’s what government has become," she said.
Bruce was especially alarmed by the prospect of government-controlled healthcare. She cited significant problems which occur in two countries that have universal healthcare. In the Netherlands, she said, they openly give cyanide pills to their elderly to cut down on healthcare, and in Canada people have died after having to wait over a year for an MRI. By drastically lowering taxes, she stated, every family could have the opportunity to purchase healthcare and support their family members responsibly.
"Do you think that your parents, or your children are going to make a different decision [if they have the money] than the government?" Bruce asked. "Do you want to be handed a cyanide pill because the government does not love you? Barack Obama does not love you. Neither does anybody in Washington, D.C."
Bruce continued to explain that the ability to make independent decisions without much government control was what made the USA a great country. "Has there been any successful dynamic where government is daddy? Are people getting in the boats and dying trying to go to that country? Are they taking boats to Cuba, or are they leaving Cuba? Is there a flood of people trying to get into Venezuela? I haven’t seen it. Is there a flood of people going to Canada?" said Bruce, as she compared the United States to countries with more involved governments. She also added that small government’s lack of aid caused competition that was important for motivating people to work hard and achieve their potential.
While Bruce acknowledged that the government was necessary for infrastructure and defense, she said that people ultimately need to make their own decisions, and said that we are best off "when we can truly choose to have an abortion or not, preferably not, to speak up or not, and when, where to live, how to live, how to live our lives."
Before she ended the lecture, Bruce mentioned that she thought that the public will begin to see increasing numbers of women and people of color, such as Sarah Palin and Michael Steele, rising to prominence. As a result of this change, she said that many of the party’s values would begin to shift away from religious affiliation and closer to the principles of which she outlined in her speech.
The speech was sponsored by the Wabash Conservative Union.