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One Progressive’s View: What is the Conservative Mindset IV-Discourse between American View and Credence2

Updated on March 12, 2012

My friend and fellow hubber, American View recently wrote an article entitled “We Need a Strong Leader I frequently comment on his articles and while not partisan, he is clearly quite conservative. We have communicated often as to where the differences lie between right verses left, and is there this ‘everyman’ that takes a reasonable center position?

Even though people say that you can be conservative about some things and liberal over others, I tend to see that conservatives and liberals (progressives) are usually consistent to the ideological principles of one pole or the other over a wide variety of issues, more often than not. That is quite clear here in “Hub Pages” where within our political writing community there a clear delineation between those that are conservative in their views and those that are progressive, and rarely do the twain meet. Even if we declare ourselves neutral, it is difficult to conceal a bias in our preferences regardless of how determined we are to suppress them.

I don’t conceal that my affinity is more toward the political left but if I am going to go after the ‘right’ it will be through reasoned discourse and pointed questions. Yes, I have been ‘hot under the collar’ sometimes, but I try to keep that to a minimum, as to not intimidate those from whom I want to get an opinion on my articles as to why they take the position they do.

What is foundation for a conservative verses a progressive (I like that word over liberal, while not trying to imply that I am trying to delineate a difference between the terms, so “liberal” if you like). The two of us have been raised in basically the same culture at about roughly the same time. All the same, we have stark differences in what constitutes an accurate American view. Is it genetic, nature versus nurture? If I had the answer, I could retire my pen for eternity. But, I wouldn’t let anyone off the hook that easily. We both were involved in public service to our respective states of residency and country. I have prior military service and have a basic patriotism and love of country. It is quite clear from his service to his community and his neighbors that he does as well. So what is the difference, why are not more of us on the same page?

In response to AV’s latest article, here is my comment

“Greetings, this was a strong article AV and we are nowhere near on the same page regarding it.

What is your idea of a strong leader? Mitt Romney?

Was Ronald Reagan your ideal?

The president has been more successful in rounding up terrorists from the rogue outfits than his predecessor and to suggest otherwise is sheer fabrication.

An apology does not alter American foreign policy toward terrorism but could well blunt the response of our adversaries and save lives. This blustering big stick stuff is a thing of the past, why do so many of you continue to hold on to it?

So if Iran gets a bomb, what are the right-wingers prepared to do about it? Send in troops and expend resources we do not have. We are in an economic downturn much of it exacerbated by wasteful military spending.

What are the right-wingers suggesting we do with Iran, we are already spread thin militarily and spending too much money in this area in my opinion. McCain is ready to involve us in Syria, when does it stop? I don't care about Israel nor have this dying devotion to her existence. She is just another country that had better learn to work with her neighbors and don't expect me to exhaust my resources on her behalf. The right constantly produces these ridiculous heroines and bogymen.

This particular article ticked me off as being partisan and putting Obama in a position where he loses every time. Believe me, there are plenty of us that don't see it quite the way you do.

In the light of the clown show presented by the GOP, I am more than satisfied with the President and how he has performed in office. Nothing perfect, but what is?”

Peace through Strength

I told AV how much I appreciated his studied reply to my comment and that I would address it at the earliest opportunity. This might show the differences before I attempt to provide an explanation for them

The following is AV’s reply to my comment in normal text with my reply in italics.


To answer your question, Reagan was a strong President, so was JFK. Do you think Russia would have backed down during the Bay of Pigs if JFK gave an apology? Do you think Russia backed down because we were weak. Do you think it was an accident Iran let the hostages go on inauguration day of Reagan? Do you think Russia would have fallen if we were weak? Do you think the wall would have fallen if we were weak? Do you think there would even still be an Israel if we were weak? Do you think Iran would have the stones to send Reagan or JFK a pink model plane? Has Iran ever said they would “wipe Israel off the face of the map” under Regan or JFK? The answer to all those questions is NO. To think our projecting strength has not had a positive influence on history is disingenuous. To think apologizing all over town for the US helping peopledespite our enemies do not liking that we do, does not project weakness is also disingenuous.

As I understand it the Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful attempt by United States backed Cuban exiles to overthrow the government of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. You may be speaking more on the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. In my opinion it is not so much that Kennedy projected strength more than he was prudent and had a carefully measured response to an international crisis. Between advisors either advising him to do nothing or those that were willing to bring on WW III, Mr. Kennedy used military power judiciously to get the Soviets to back down without bringing the world to brink of war. THAT is what I call strength.

The real strength is wisdom and prudence, consideration as to consequences of being belligerent and acting rashly. Instead of the’ right’ beating the drum to bomb Iran and Syria, is that the best way or does it open a Pandora’s Box that just as soon should stay closed? For the progressive, strength can take many forms. The strength to apologize, leaving the ego on the table when it can save lives while not compromising the mission or American policy is strength to me. Making a scene about international niceties regarding the President bowing to some other leader is quite irrelevant from my point of view. We also see the power Para dyne changing from one of who has the most battleships to one representing those that develop their economies and human resources. China has got their hands deep in our pockets, while we spend more on defense than the next 14 nations on the list, combined. Who are the smart ones? That is the view of many of us from the left.

As for Ronald Reagan, while he is given credit for ending the Cold War, is it properly placed? From Harry Truman up to Ronald Reagan, all American presidents participated in this struggle. The real credit belonged to Soviet Leader Gorbachev, who offered a willingness to negotiate and agree in a way unparalleled by his predecessors. This was new kind of Soviet Leader, and Reagan just had the ‘luck of the Irish’ to have had the opportunity to work with him rather than with Stalin, Khrushchev or Brezhnev, the true Soviet apparatchiks.

Neutralizing Terrorists

You said”

“The president has been more successful in rounding up terrorists from the rogue outfits than his predecessor and to suggest otherwise is sheer fabrication

Well, of course that is a false left talking point. Including Bin Laden, Obama is credited with capturing of killing 22 terrorist in 3 years( Source-ABC ) The article gives all the names of those Obama is responsible, calling it “notches on his belt”. So Obama is proud of killing or capturing around 7 per year. That is pitiful. Bush killed or captured more than 22 and to say other is truly fabrication

While I admit that much of what I state was obtained from the news media, you provided an ABC source that indicated that the President was very successful in capturing and killing terrorists. There is no indication, and I could not find any that Bush in a comparable amount of time had been more successful. Conservatives always seem to imply that Obama is soft on national defense, I beg to differ on this assessment. It is difficult to equate torturing those already in captivity with the act of capture of elimination of the adversary.

Iran and the Bomb

What will “right wingers do when Iran gets the bomb”. See here in lies the problem and lack of vision on the left. That is the wrong question to ask. The question should be what will Iran DO if they get the bomb. They have made their intentions quite clear. Iran is the one that has said on more than one occasion they will take Israel off the face of the map, they are the ones that said they would attack America on America’s soil and would back anyone who would and would use a dirty bomb doing so. So to answer your question what would we do once he gets one, well it’s too late to do anything then except to discourage them from using it and defending ourselves when they do use it. Make no mistake, they will. Curious, do you think Obama will apologize to America if either of those were to happen? Doubtful.

To answer this, what did we say when Russia got the bomb or China? There are two arch enemies, India and Pakistan, as nuclear powers? What were we going to do with that? At this time in my opinion a nuclear armed Pakistan is very dangerous. But, yet we are all so sure that we know what Iran would do if they had the bomb. The same thing that restrained other nuclear adversaries will restrain Iran, the penalty of total annihilation.

As a progressive, I believe that sheer military force loses its effectiveness over time. The new guerilla warfare tactics of our adversaries make our superior firepower and resources ineffective. Look at Vietnam. I don’t see the advantage of pre-emptive war over something that so many nations, both friend and foe already possess. Who is prepared to wage war over it and at what cost? Israel is a nuclear power, if I were Iran, I would find that intimidating. Everybody tells me I have to “stand down” while my greatest adversary is armed? Who is going to accept that? I want a more international consensus on these matters over Pax-Americana.

Conservatives seem to believe that we have the right to intercede in these matters unilaterally, at our expense and manpower. Both resources are finite. The world is a big place; I can’t afford to go around the world putting out fires. None of the societies that we wanted to ‘remake’ has really changed in a substantive way once we leave the area. All we have left are debt and body bags. In the face of these realities, our foreign policy, strategic and tactical military approach needs to be reevaluated. Conservatives seem to see America in a unique role as global constable and I don’t see that.

Middle East Foreign Policy/Abortion Issue

You said”

“I don't care about Israel nor have this dying devotion to her existence.”

I find it sad that the people on the left fight so hard to kill unborn babies, are aloof and do not care if someone wants to make extinct a country full of innocent people, but fight for the rights of murders not to be executed for their egregious crimes. It’s OK to wipe out a family, a mother and her kids and we will protect you, be a practicing Jew and we do not care if someone drops nuclear bombs on you and wipes you out.

At the end of the day I am glad this article pissed you off, it should. This President’s actions has done a lot of damage to this country in every area including foreign affairs. Do I think the GOP candidates are the best, no, but with the exception of Paul, they are all better than Obama(clowns, did you forget Obama vs Hillary). As far as I am concerned the best candidate dropped out and never was even looked at by the right. I do not know who I will vote for when I enter the booth this year out of all the names on the ballot, but I do know the one I will not be voting for. This election is nothing more than firing the man who has made things worse than when he received it.

As a progressive, I do not give parity to a woman’s right to control aspects of her reproductive process that is hers to control, over getting involved in international affairs on the other side of the globe. The two concepts simply are not to be compared. The implications of much of the right’s desire to probe a woman’s private parts and have most their intimate concerns subject to the whims of politicians are not acceptable. Imposition in this area is just the beginning of restricting her ability to compete in the workplace with some degree equality and parity. While many do not like the idea of abortion, it is a fool’s errand to put a lock box on a woman’s womb and not think that it will not have profound implications for how they otherwise are able to interact within society

. If the desire of the right is to force women to bear to term regardless of circumstances, they reduce that status of women to mere chattel and incubating machine, which is non starter to those of us on the left. As I said earlier, the world is a big place and I am not willing nor am I in a position to protect everyone, all of the time.

I knew that you were a supporter of Huntsman, if memory serves. Huntsman was the most moderate of GOP contenders, did you really think that he would take on the views of the issues that resonate with the right, like Santorum, Romney or Gingrich say that they support. Are we to just bomb Iran and Syria into the Stone Age and then are the problems are over? Sorry about the “clowns” comment, I slipped.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, we both had families, parents and such. We both attended public schools. Conservatives seem to have the paternalistic view of things that we are there to protect and correct injustice in the world according to our American model. Or that you have a paternalistic view of women and as a result need to protect them from themselves. The problem with that is paternalism is a natural impediment to respecting the sovereignty of other nations and the desire they have or should have to control their own affairs. I am sure that most women would probably tell you that paternalism is more impediment to their advancement over being an aid.

Without pulling the ‘race card’ , my being a member of an specific ethnic group while it does not implicate a ‘group think’ it reveals common experiences that we of that group share that shape much of our political opinions. I know very few black conservatives, and that is supported by the obvious political affiliation of most AAs and that transcends all levels of income, age, education and social class. The explanation for the different outlook more strongly points here than anywhere else. But, I will delve into that as to why we see things differently, next time.

I thank you, AV and my readers for wading through all of this in search of an answer


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    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Defense Department, not State, and it has colored my view on threat assessment, no doubt. Only Israel is talking about unilateral action, so far Obama has ruled it out for America. Both Russia and China have huge economic ties with Iran and are very short-sighted by nature, in any case, like most countries including the US.

      I have to reiterate that most of the world IS against Iran on this and see them as a dire threat. If Russia and China did not have a veto, the UN actually would be acting ... strongly.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      ME, thanks I know that would score very low on the rightwing authoritarian scale, there is at best only a trace of rightwinger blood that flows through my veins in any and all aspects where the ideological divide is found.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      ME, You are right about the Democratic Presidents in office when wars began. But, I have a clearly differing standard for wars that began before the nuclear age and those that started afterwards. So, I am not surprized, when I take into account WWI and WWII.

      Conservatives, unfortunately are good at destroying everything, not just the economy. Who can trust them to do anything right?

      So why would not China or Russia consider a nuclear Iran a global threat, are they not part of planet? Is all of this still just more 'cold war' politics?. Why should we be concerned if they are not?

      ME, I have to defer to some of your experience, did you not say that you worked for the State Department at one time"

      The problem for me is even if Iran is this Nazi sort of threat the right claims it is, are you prepared to wage preventive war, unilaterally? If the UN sees a threat and the majority of members say, "take action", then so be it. The posse approach used by BushI was very effective because of the consensus approach and attitude.

      We are part of the international community and we should be working in concert with it. With that knowledge and understanding we can pursue global peace and deal with threats to it.

      I have studied history and have a credential or two in the area and exporting war and terrorism is and has not been unique to Iran.

      Those in proximity of Iran have or should have a greater reason to contain it than would I. Or maybe it is all about the oil?

      I have to ask the Iranians "are you afraid to die"? It is much more difficult to stand in contradiction to world opinion over standing in contradiction to the U.S., who is seen as having its own agenda.

      You and I have grown up through the Communist menance which had designed on global domination.

      Thanks again, Cred2

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      It is, in answer to your question to WBA, because you would probably score low on the Right-wing Authoritarian survey and I suspect WBA would score high.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Hehe, a few minor points. As it turns out, I believe, it has been the liberals who have been more aggressive than our Conservative friends have been. Go back and count the number of military actions started by Conservative presidents and then count the number started by Progressive ones, I think you will be surprised. What the Conservatives are good at is destroying our economy, not foreign intervention, lol.

      As for Iran, there are only about five countries that I can think of that doesn't consider Iran a dire threat to world stability if they get the nuke, Russia, China, Syria, Cuba, and Venzuela. If we bomb Iran, I don't think we will get into an actual ground war, it won't be by ourselves.

      As I think I mentioned before, even though North Korea never physically attacked anybody, they did "make war" on the rest of the world by exporting their knowledge and material to places like Pakistan and Iran. Further, North Korea never threatened, let alone acted to do much outside of South Korea. On the other hand, Iran has exported war around the war, they are not afraid to attack because they are use to being agressive outside their borders; that is what makes them so different from all of the other examples you bring up. None, zero, zip of them have shown any tendency or capability to wreck havoc beyond their immediate borders; Iran has already done so. I wish you could see that.

      I need to find the title of a series of great lectures that I am listening to, or was, I haven't for a month or so, from the Teaching Company aka Great Courses. It covers the kind of thing we are discussing from a historical perspective.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      WBA, thanks for dropping by. I think that if you look closely many of the positions taken on issues of the day by the left have their virtues.

      It is how and why we got to the point where we have altering assumptions about our respective universes. Why is it, when all else is equal, we both look at the same object, I see blue while you see red?

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hello, ME, sorry it took so long to get back to this. I have definite opinions on this subject. There is a difference between isolationist and non-interventionist, I subscribe to the latter.

      Can you really wear the mantle and employ the methods of the right comfortably? Is not having an overbearing attitude regarding matters abroad not translate into an autocratic, authoritarian attitude at home? We have to part ways here, the conservative perspective is always counterproductive in the long run. I don’t have to hide under a rock as an alternative to not sticking our nose in every one else’s affairs. We cant talk about Democracy at home and be an autocrat abroad.

      Obama is in between a rock and a hard place regarding foreign policy. I believe that Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan for that matter are lost causes and waste our money. ME, are you actually willing to go to war to prevent Iran from attaining ‘the bomb’? I certainly am not. We have often been taught the limits of American military power, when do we finally get the message? To restrain Iran, we need a posse, not John Wayne coming up around the bend. Is there a consensus in the international community regarding Iran and the danger associated with its acquiring nuclear weapons? Are we dealing with a true danger or are just imperialists doing this to protect Israel, what does the globe have to say about it?

      We don’t have to remove ourselves from the world to avoid dominating it at great cost. Don’t we act as we please? Does not China, North Korea, Iran or Cuba reserve to itself the right to do the same? In an enlightened global community, no one should be acting as they please disregarding the consequences through out the international community. What gives one the authority to write the rules at the expense of the other? From the point of view of others who is to say that America does not have its own agenda that may not be to their benefit all of the time. From Ancient Greece to the British Empire, these powers fell because their reach always exceeded their grasp. And so it will be with us, if we are not more prudent in the future.

      ME, remember all the rage about not allowing North Korea to become nuclear? So there is no threat right now, but who is to say that they do not acquire the technology to become one? Short of an aggressive preemptive war, how do you stop it when we ourselves have thousands of warheads? Who are we to talk about nuclear nonproliferation in these circumstances? You plug one hole in a sieve and the water runs out from all the others. Who says that all these nuclear powers that you mention, Russia, China, Pakistan and India with less than amicable relations among themselves do not present a threat to the world? Is Iran so different then all the nuclear standoffs we have had during the Cold War period? If we can get Iran to stand down, great, but it has to be peaceful and an international consensus. I am not for doing it without support. Pakistan could turn coat at any time. It is just futile for a man to try to walk inbetween the rain drops during a storm, and the basic bellicosity of the human species is one of those timeless things. Iran is a problem but so is much of the nuclear family. At one time, I saw the Politboro and Supreme Soviet as nut jobs. Everybody threatens everybody else all of the time, what else is new?

      The right thinks that we can carve a graven image of America by force throughout the world, but to do that would be in conflict with the values that we espouse to the entire world. So how do we live with the contradiction, the inconsistency?

      I am tired wearing the mantle of superhero, we have enough problems without drum beating abroad over some petty dictator's threats.

      ME, I always appreciate your discourse and look to hear from you again soon.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Perceptive, WBA.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago from upstate, NY

      " I tend to see that conservatives and liberals (progressives) are usually consistent to the ideological principles of one pole or the other over a wide variety of issues, more often than not. That is quite clear here in “Hub Pages” where within our political writing community there a clear delineation between those that are conservative in their views and those that are progressive, and rarely do the twain meet."

      I often wonder why this is so true and at times I question my own assumptions because I think to myself,"the liberals have got to be right about something", its just not logical to believe they could be wrong about every important issue!

      One of my explanations for this phenomena is that the left and right hold certain assumptions about the world from which every view on the issues originates from.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      You got an awesome from me on this one Credence. If find it interesting that the far left and far right have one thing in common, at the core, they are isolationists who want to follow the George Washington model of foriegn affairs.

      I, of course, have to agree with you on everything you said, except foriegn affairs. Those on the right have only one mode of solving problems, head-on, with bombasity and arrogance; I bet it was a progressive who came up with the flanking manuever in the military. In a few instances, the Conservative methodology of problem solving actually works, most of the time it makes things worse, however; Obama understands this and it seems to be working for the most part; jujitsu is based on this idea, isn't it?

      Regarding Iran, I think both of you went astray. The question isn't what to do after the Iranian's get the bomb, it is how do you stop them from getting it in the first place. Once they have it, the game is over unless they use it, there will be no invasion to take it away.

      Unfortunately, Credence, as much as you might like it, we can't remove ourselves from the world and let others act as they please and not expect it to negatively impact us. Empires have done that throughout history, and because of it, all have perished.

      When North Korea got the bomb, there was no threat to America from them having it, other than the exportation of the knowledge; they had no means of delivering it anywhere except locally. It would have been nice if India had not developed the bomb, but then they are sitting there right next to gan agressive Russia and China who kept agitating at their borders, defenseless. Pakistan got it in response to their fear India might use theirs to wipe them out; neither were presenting any danger to the rest of the world.

      Iran, however, is none of those things. Iran is a clear and present danger who exports terrorism around the world including the US, they are run by religious nutjobs; whether Israel is our friend or not, threatening to wipe another country of the face of the earth deserves our attention because, like it or not, being the most powerful nation on earth puts a mantle of responsibility on our shoulders and we can't shuck it, no matter how much we might like to.

      Iran is a direct threat to America's national security for many reasons and therefore must take action to prevent this rouge nation from acquiring a weapon with which they can at least blackmail us with, if not actually use it.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      GA, thanks for dropping by. I was too young a fellow to have a particular sense of pride for being in American during JFK's term.

      I did not feel particularly patriotic during Reagan's reign.

      You are right about the nature of today's contention over those of the past. We really did not seem as far apart and the political parties were not as different in regards to domestic and foreign policy. I guess that is a loss for us all, as we can't find common ground within the current political climate.

      These days its is azure blue and crimson red. And yes I do remember the conflict as one more between the people and the government. But there was the silent majority and such, but they were just that: silent.

      Your spot on, come back and 'pick ' again!

    • GA Anderson profile image

      ga anderson 

      7 years ago from Maryland

      @credence2 - Interesting exchange. But it would make commenting much easier if you would be just a little more unreasonable :)

      I do have 2 cents to contribute on the "Reagan as a great leader" issue. In my opinion, his leadership "greatness" was that he was able to make most Americans feel good about being Americans. Same with JFK.

      Every president is going to have policies and decisions that will pit one side against the other, but in the end I felt the divisions were more of a "I like or I don't like" argument over specific issues, rather than the "us vs. them" divisions I see today.

      Political vitriol will always be with us, but my impressions from memories of the times were that the vitriol was in Washington. The rest of the country of course chose to agree or disagree, but I don't remember it as being as vehement as now.

      The anti-war, (Vietnam), movement may have come to mind after that last statement - but think, do you remember that as an "Us" Americans vs. "them" Americans, or more of an "Us" Americans vs. "Them" government conflict?

      Anyway, just had to find something to pick at.



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