Saturday, March 06, 2010

Inside the Mind of a Conservative

Once again, I got into another lengthy "debate" with the teabagger lady whom I thank God every day that she's not my mother-in-law (when the time comes, I want a cool mother-in-law like my best friend Nicholas has). This teabagger lady responded to my Facebook post about Sarah Palin's appearance on Jay Leno the other night. I found Palin's claims hilariously inaccurate, particularly Palin saying that she signed up with the Fox Propaganda Network because of its "fair and balanced" approach to reporting the news. She chided the media for being nothing more than opinion makers and getting away from reporting the facts. I do agree that the media did get away from reporting the facts during the Bush years. They had no problem reporting on every scandal of the Clinton years, but when Bush wanted a war, the media turned into stenographers and read the administration's talking points. They failed to ask all the important questions, and distanced themselves from the people who were asking the tough questions, including General Shinsheki, who was practically laughed off for saying that a successful invasion and occupation of Iraq required at least 300,000 troops.

For Palin to criticize the media for being opinion makers is absurd, because she has no journalistic credentials. If her Facebook status updates and Tweets are considered her "reporting", they were grossly inaccurate. In fact, she often personalizes the political issues. Obama's Health Care Reform isn't just bad government to was a step towards the establishment of government "death panels" that would put her grandmother and Downs Syndrome baby to death! All politics is personal with her. Where does the objective journalistic eye come in? She can't separate her personality from the story, because she IS THE STORY. Once again, she shows her cluelessness by going to a pre-Oscar party where vendors were giving away free sample merchandise. According to news reports, Palin and her entourage descended on the gathering "like a swarm of locusts", leaving nothing behind. Why not? Its all free and she's a grifter. I laughed when I read that news report. Please keep this woman in the news! She wants a reality series? Yes...please give her one! Let Americans be reminded that we could have had this crazy woman one 70-year old heartbeat away from the presidency!

Anyhow, the debate between the teabagger and I went the usual way. We don't agree on anything, at all. In her comments, she accused me of not admitting that my views are wrong. This is an absurd accusation. No one ever believes that his or her views are wrong...otherwise they would not have those views. Right? Everyone believes that their views are right. Its just unrealistic to expect another person to think their views are wrong. But in the mind of a conservative, there can only be right and wrong. There is fine line with no shades of gray. Everything is either black or white, right or wrong. It frustrates a conservative when a person (like me) says, "Your views or lifestyle may be right for you, but not for me." That's because they believe that there can only be one right way...and they are living that right way and if you don't live the same way or think the same thing, then you are wrong...or immoral...or EVIL.

I'm going to show some of her comments that she made on my Facebook page. My responses were lengthier and different than my comments will be here. I'm posting this because it shows exactly the conformist mindset of a conservative person...and why I'm glad I'm not conservative (at least when it comes to politics and spirituality).

"and you argue you points based on what people tell you and your read off liberal websites instead of checking out the facts like when you espouse things about beck you know nothing about cause you dont watch him, so while you point one finger at me, you are pointing several back at yourself. And you have yet to answer any of my questions, you just keep pointing out how everyone else BUT you are wrong. "

This is a huge projection of her own thought process. I don't read talking points nor do I speak from them. I actually hated talking points from the time I was an intern in Vice President Gore's legislative affairs office in 2000. It has a negative connotation, due to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I understand why they are used though. And make no mistake, the Bush Administration was big on talking points. They are well known for their message discipline, particularly during the lead up to the Iraq War. It wasn't just Condoleezza Rice talking about "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." That was the memorable phrase that all of the bigwigs used on talk shows in 2003.

I know its hard for a conservative to understand that liberals tend to be free thinking individuals, thus develop their own opinions independently of any group's talking points...but they make this argument because that is exactly how they think. Why else would they listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, and read Ann Coulter's books? They aren't interested in learning about things, but in having their views reinforced. It might come as a newsflash to some of them, but I don't have cable TV so I don't watch CNN or MSNBC or Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. My preferred news program is PBS' The News Hour, though if I had cable, I would be watching French and BBC newscasts. I really saw the substance of foreign news programs when I lived in Italy as a young man and had European cable in my barracks. There's no comparison. The News Hour is the only program that comes close to the European standard. I'm not interested in propaganda (except from a historical perspective) and for someone to accuse me of feeding myself liberal propaganda is absurd. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, I was obsessed with every detail. I wanted to know the truth, what really happened. I wasn't interested in covering for Clinton's lies. Yet, we see the opposite example during the Bush years. His supporters were more interested in maintaining the conservative propaganda than the truth about his administration.

About Glenn Beck...I have watched him on YouTube clips and wasn't impressed. There is something insincere about the guy and the moments when he tears up seem so fake to me. My impression of the guy is that he found his schtick, as the rightwing needed a Rush Limbaugh that appealled to women because Rush really repulsed women. Women are a critical voting block and the Republican Party has zero chance of electoral success if they can't capture a huge chunk of the female vote. Glenn Beck found his formula: a man who is not afraid to cry on cue. This probably helps him get sympathy from women, who see him as "sensitive" even though his views are toxic to the public sphere. I didn't need a liberal talking points to have a negative reaction to Beck. Its a visceral dislike, because visual images are easy to manipulate. Republicans are masterful at propaganda and I've met plenty of Americans who naively believe that propaganda is "not possible" in our country.

I thought about this even further and realized that I prefer to read editorials and opinion columns. That shouldn't be surprising, because you are easily able to spot errors in logic when its written. Watching an opinion maker make his or her arguments on air has a different effect on people, because of personal charisma or mannerisms. I learned this while watching Palin's VP debate and then reading it. On screen, she winked, licked her lips, had a sassy manner of speaking and her physical beauty were all able to play tricks on people's minds. When you read a transcript of what she said, you can easily see that she made little logical sense. It was all a show. Thus, she's a perfect piece of propaganda for Fox. She'll get to wink and lick her lips to the male audience, who won't need to see Viagra ads.

My question to Glenn Beck devotees they read other opinions, even by Republican and conservative David Brooks? Or do they prefer to get their facts from a talking head who uses emotions to manipulate their opinions? A common mistaken claim of Beck viewers and Rush listeners is that liberals use emotions in their arguments while conservatives rely on facts, which is the exact opposite of what studies have shown. Liberal politicians often lose because they rely too much on facts and statistics rather than connecting on an emotional level. Its amazing how the right is able to get away with its Orwellisms (black is white, war is peace, 2+2=5).

"BTW nick, I have you figured out, you just like to "argue" you like to put things out there that you think get people all upset on the conservative side. You know its a bunch of nutty stuff, that is why you never admit you are wrong or make mistakes. Just wanted to let you know Im on to it. "

What I would say to that is that, yes, I like to debate people. That's how you learn. Not just how other people think, but also the strength of their arguments and of your own arguments.

I mostly post the comments I do on Facebook to make my liberal friends laugh, and for myself (such as when I tag an article I like to my Facebook wall--allowing me access to it later). Making a conservative person upset is not my goal, though. Or to anger them. I have a lot of conservative friends and have lost a few on Facebook when they de-friend me after I've made fun of one of their beloved icons. My biggest concern about conservatives is that they are being lied to by the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, George W. Bushes, Sarah Palins and I don't understand why anyone would allow themselves to be lied to like that. That is one thing that I will never understand about the conservative mind.

Here's the biggest insight into the conservative mind:

"well I guess you just need to get your like-mnded liberals together and exterminate the rest of us ignorant people that are keeping your ideologic world from happening. So sorry we have intolerance and cant be more tolerant like yall are of everyone that is different than you. I mean Ive never heard so much tolerance for people of a different opinion than yours before. Sounds very self righteous, oops I mean righteous. "

I was stunned by the teabagger lady's last comment. Because we disagree, she actually thinks I want to live in a world where there are only like-minded people and that we would kill anyone who thinks differently than us?!? The fact that she said that showed me exactly how deeply rooted her conservative mindset is, because that is how conservative people think: kill or be killed. I saw a lot of this mentality in the military among enlisted men. In our "war on terror", I still get chills when I remember Bush smirking in one of his State of the Union Addresses in which he claimed that there were some people who would never pose a threat to us again. I also got chills when Senator Kerry claimed that he would be more effective in killing terrorists than Bush. Even Obama in his State of the Union Address this year mentioned the killing of terrorists. Am I the only one who believes that killing terrorists DOES NOT solve the problem. In fact, it worsens it. Bush's belief that if we just kill all the terrorists, we'd have peace forever, is the most illogical and dangerous belief I've ever heard an American politician claim. You can't kill all the terrorists, just like you can't kill all the murderers in our country. The best way to solve these problems of violence is to improve the conditions of life for people. Killing terrorists as a solution to end terrorism is merely a game like "whack-a-mole." You won't get every one and you're only pushing more people into becoming terrorists when their sibling, parent, relative, friends die due to a U.S. weapon.

That statement by the Teabagger only proves to me how world's apart our mindset truly is. Because she thinks that the solution to peace in our world is everyone thinking the same way or else killed for thinking differently, she thinks liberals have this same viewpoint. They have no ability to realize that a liberal mind is much different because liberal-minded people are comfortable with uncertainty, diversity, being around or among people who are radically different than they are (in religion, dress, customs, language, politics). They can't seem to understand that I have ZERO fear of Muslims, Arabs, Africans, or even dying in a terrorist attack. I don't live my life based on fear. I don't focus on it and I don't look for it. What does make me uncomfortable is conformity or lack of any diversity. When people think the same thing, I start worrying. BYU was an interesting education in conformity for this very reason, and a big part of why I'm more comfortable in diversity. It creeps me out when everyone thinks the same way or have the same viewpoints. I consider myself an eternal student, so I like meeting people who think differently than me because I see them as having something valuable to teach me.

In 1994, when the Republicans took control of Congress, I was offended when some Republicans said that we needed to teach American dominance in schools, because a country like Haiti has more to learn from the U.S. than Americans did from Haiti. I thought this view was arrogant. Since the first grade, I took the initiative in learning about other countries and would often pretend to be a person from that country. I got the "commie" label pretty early because the Soviet Union was my country of interest in first grade. I never saw them as the enemy. I don't even see conservatives or Republicans as the enemy. I don't believe in enemies (though some people truly push it upon themselves and try to wage a war against me only to regret it when I fight back, such as at work, or with my roommate conflicts in college, or during basic training).

Am I wrong? No...I don't believe my views are wrong (surprise, surprise). In fact, I think my views on politics are right. Given the choice between a world of conformity to conservative values (while everyone who disagrees is targeted for removal, extermination, banishment, or ostrasized) or a world of diversity where conservatives have a part in it, of course my view of a diverse world is the right one. Its the only one that allows people to be who they are, conservative, liberal, moderate, and every religion or none at all. What other people believe or not doesn't affect my life one iota...unless they demand a conformity to the ignorance they believe is the only one to follow. No thanks. Your choice to remain ignorant and fearful of people different than you is YOUR problem, not mine. I like my views much better.

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