Time for some blunt talk about politics. Some are certain to be offended but I’m just really frustrated about how people keep talking about how polarized the country is and how it is a matter of some people feeling one way while others feel another. The typical discussion about the polarized country describes the situation without reaching any conclusions as to why it is like that.
Let’s start with the conservative viewpoints. A lot of them overlap and intertwine but here are some discrete points.
Conservatives are naive idealists. They were taught how things should work and they believe that getting things to work that way is only a matter of saying that they should. People who are gay are messing with the order of things because gay couples can’t make babies so clearly it’s wrong. Transgender people make bathroom signage less cut and dry than they’d like.
Conservatives are selfish. Policies are looked at with a myopic view of what is good for the individual conservative. The Affordable Care Act was wrong because it fixed a problem that conservatives couldn’t see – the typical conservative has a typical job that offers health insurance. And the typical conservative is in good enough health that they haven’t discovered the problems with the insurance they had or they are rich enough to have the best kind of coverage. The only times when conservatives can see beyond their orthodoxy is when they have been personally touched by a contradiction – when reality has blasted a hole through the protective bubble. For example, when Dick Cheney, the arch-conservative, was compassionate toward gay rights because of his gay daughter.
Conservatives are uneducated, both in school and in the world. Studies have shown that conservative voters are less likely to be college educated. I don’t believe that is an effect of them not being smart but merely a cause of them not being educated. I’ve met people who I would consider to be smart who do not have a college education who believe things to be a certain way because they believe it rather than because they have been educated about how things really are. And the whole notion that people who are not conservatives are elitists and even how this paragraph (or whole post) are elitist is proof of that. Also, the more people educate themselves about how other cultures or people live in other parts of the country or other parts of the world, the more they know the real world. The more insular they stay, the simpler life is and the more wrong the rest of the world is.
Conservatives are too religious. What they have learned in church or temple is what applies to them and to everyone. Their church teaches that being gay is a sin and therefore it is. There’s no ability to think for themselves on the subject. Their thinking is delegated to the church. It’s a lazy way to avoid thinking for themselves. It’s also unfortunate that religions stick to archaic views. Pope Francis is notably softening the Catholic Church’s view on some matters; hopefully the rest of Christianity will follow.
Conservatives are fearful. This touches on being uneducated, selfish, and religious. What they don’t understand or what they perceive as unnecessary, or what is against their church teaching is something that frightens. Change to what they are used to or what they were taught is anathema. But studies have shown that conservatives brains are wired to be more fearful. And that could explain why they are more religious (more likely to being accepting of religion’s answers to big questions that can’t be answered otherwise) and why they are more selfish (because opening up minds to the bigger world is scary).
Conservatives only look at the first order of cause and effect and don’t dig deeper. This point is akin to the lack of education but may point to a lack of intellectual curiosity more than a lack of having been to college. Or you could say it is why conservatives are less likely to seek a college education. A public school that is failing doesn’t deserve more money and people that can afford a private school can just go there – who cares if it perpetuates and exacerbates the haves and the have-nots. They don’t go beyond the surface to discover that using tax money to better the schools results in a stronger overall community with less crime and higher property values which eventually results in better city/state/governmental services for all. And conservatives don’t take the thinking one more step to realize that more good guys with guns also mean more bad guys with guns which ultimately means more gun-related deaths.
Let’s put it together. It’s all about faith. Whether it is faith in the religious sense that means they blindly follow their church’s teachings and resist education of the contrary, faith in their parents for how they were brought up, faith in the status quo and avoidance of messy truths that don’t fit the ideal, faith in the free market to always triumph, or faith in anybody who is a conservative because they say they are. Having religious faith isn’t a problem. But having blind faith without asking for more is no way to make policy decisions.
Liberals aren’t off the hook here. They have their own issues.
Liberals are naive idealists also. But they believe that pulling people together can achieve change and they believe in an inherent good in people. Even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. Keep sending money to the poor and eventually they won’t be poor any more – they also will not have worked for the money or learned how to take care of themselves.
Liberals are proud of their superiority and like to talk to show it off. That sometimes means an inability to actually coalesce around something useful so that the absolute ideal can be held pure. It means that liberals of varying interests can maintain a moral high ground in theory but are unwilling to compromise, sometimes even with other liberals, to achieve less than they wanted.
That’s it for my comments on Liberals – those are the only issues I see. Besides, the liberals don’t run the country, the conservatives do. Even when liberals are in power by numbers, somehow their failings allow the conservatives to drive the conversation. The Affordable Care Act is a notable exception in recent times.
Libertarians have issues too.
Libertarians are naive idealists too! How else to explain the idea that you don’t need government to do much of anything including provide drivers’ licenses? The belief that people will police themselves in these matters is beyond idealism – it’s batshit crazy.
That’s really all there is to say about Libertarians. That they are too idealistic. Of course, like all other political persuasions, the degree to which any individual adheres to the ideology varies, and perhaps that variance is greater with libertarians. But where the Libertarian deviates from ideology is either in a liberal leaning way or a conservative leaning way. So I don’t see Libertarians as being that distinct from liberals or conservatives – just a slightly different take on the same liberal to conservative spectrum.