... conservatives believe that it is better for people to leave them free to manage themselves and that if they realize they have to, they will rise to the challenge. They would call this tough love.
The first question that I have is whether the social and economic policies of today's political conservatives can be accurately called "tough love." In what way are they motivated by affection, concern, desire to nurture, anything of the attributes we associate with love? I think that there is a whole lot more "toughness" than "love." The language of love is a thin candy coating on policies that are indifferent to their results.
Love, whether "Tough" or not, includes a longterm commitment to the well-being of the person who is loved. Where is that shown in present political conservatism? If welfare reform was "tough love" for the poor, wouldn't political conservatives be the most interested in the conditions of those who couldn't find a job after being tossed off public assistance?
"Tough Love" advocates like to compare themselves to the parents who push their kids into the deep end of the pool. Yes, some kids find that they can swim. But no loving parent walks away and lets the others actually drown.
Political conservatives can justify their indifference with all the talk of "tough love" they want. Whatever lets them sleep at night.
My question is this: How is that thinking even remotely consistent with the values of religious liberalism?
At the core, "tough love" conservativism is based on a theory of human nature that assumes that some other portion of humanity is significantly different than we are. They are lazy, indolent and flawed. While we respond to encouragement, nurture and assistance by growing, they respond to the same conditions by stagnating and resting.
The belief that humanity is divided into two different kinds of people with two opposing types of human nature is at odds with the religiously liberal spirit.
The belief that people respond better to threats and deprivations rather than encouragement and nurture is also at odds with the religiously liberal spirit.
People who are loyal to the politically conservative ideology and consider themselves religious liberals need to think this through carefully, because something doesn't add up here.