One Progressive’s View: What is the Conservative’s Mindset-Part III (2/19/2012)
Thinking about the fundamental differences between progressives and conservatives take me back to my last job that I held for 23 years. After speaking to many friends and hubbers across the ideological rainbow, I had to ponder just a bit. Well, I had a cubicle across from a workmate. He was notoriously conservative, while I was progressive. He had a portrait of Bush in his ‘cubie’ and I had one of Bill Clinton in mine.
During our lunch breaks, we oftentimes debated the issues of the day. We spoke about religion in public schools
Religion in Public Schools
We fought over this often, and I had trouble sorting through what were clear double standards in his reasoning. He said to me, did you not say to me that you were a Baptist? Aren’t the tenets of faith what your mom and dad taught you? I told him that I like to do my own thinking; whatever my parents taught me is not the sole determinant of what I believe or not believe, today.
Critical thinkers are independent thinkers and don’t necessarily adhere to a belief because someone had said that it was true. Of course, like most conservatives do, they reference the faith of the Founding Fathers and such. But, as they were men, inherently imperfect, I am not compelled to follow them or anyone without satisfying myself as to basis of their reasoning. When I asked him, what if I were a Buddhist, would I have a right to complain about teachers leading students in Christian prayer in my public school classroom? He replied, perhaps you should find another country in which to live. Well, bingo, we have cut to the chase. That is his great solution to religious diversity in America?
When we discussed the war in Iraq, his solution was that the inner city kids should sign up for military service so that they have an appreciation of their relative freedom in America. Funny thing, he did not see the need for his kid to go.
We discussed a program he listened to from a rightwing radio station. I believe that it was the Rush Limbaugh program, where this black man prominent in conservative circles, I believe that his last name was Williams was saying that African American slavery was a small price to pay for the privilege of living in the greatest nation on earth. When he asked my opinion about it, I told him that we had a lot of rightwing lackys and “uncle toms” spouting off these days. That does not make anything that they say true. I told him (his being white) that your ancestors were not slaves and you got the benefits associated with living in America, why would my ancestors be ‘grateful’ for the sacrifice, when you got it all without having to make it?
I listen to Santorum and Gingrich refer to the institutions of higher learning as hot beds of leftist dissent and indoctrination. What is that all about? I came into the university system at the point when the Vietnam Era protests were just beginning to die out. But, I certainly do remember some things from upper classmen that were present in the midst of it all. The political right is interested only in indoctrination, the very antithesis of what a college education is all about.
You come to learn, to think, to question and to explore possibilities, not to just think and do as you are told. Even in retrospect, the Vietnam War was a futile waste of lives and resources. Young adults knew it, we all knew it. What ‘authority’ was telling us all that we were unpatriotic and subversive for questioning the direction of our leadership? A free thinking and educated citizenry is fundamental in a democratic system, only the fascist and totalitarian regimes have a need to indoctrinate people in the official Government line.
What about the time that that darling of the right, Ann Coulter, made the statement in regards to celebrities that dare expressed a political opinion to just “shut up and sing”. I guess it is ok for the Limabaughs, Becks and Hannity’s to express their opinion, but Barbara Streisand and Danny Glover are to ‘shut up’. From where does that arrogance derive?
Then, there was the issue of global warming; he referred me to Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, who was of the belief that global warming was a falsehood. What is it about the right when 95% of the climatologists out there say that global warming is a reality, but because Rush Limbaugh, Michael Crichton, and Bush Administration believed otherwise that has to be the gospel?
To refer to the President as a Marxist, socialist and many other dumb things has to be anti-intellectual. The right seems to think that their ‘common sense’ is the equivalent of the learned and trained professional. They don’t need to support anything they say, it just is because they say so. The nonsense about the President’s birth certificate is a case in point. You ask the majority of right-wingers and they will probably believe that the moon is made of Swiss cheese because they simply discount the scientific method of inquiry and discovery. That process is inherent in the liberal plot to bring the country down.
Thinking and inquiring people naturally frightens the political right, thus their disdain over higher education.
I have to admit, he and I got into it over this one. He objected to term 'marriage' when describing couplings of the same gender. I told him what do you care what it is called? How is it when gays and lesbian call their consummated relationships 'marriage' it affects you and your relationship with your significant other? Who cares what they want to call it. It is merely a semantic exercise that was not worth the controversy. I had no problem with civil unions or the principle of two people having a relationship similar to marriage and they are of the same gender. As far as what kids in school are being taught, the fact is that the relationships exists and what moral implications are involved are best resolved through parents and their respective places of worship. Not mentioning this reality as my workmate suggested was just making the obvious more difficult.
I wanted to believe that there was a possible morph between conservative and progressive people politically. I don’t really know for sure as we are on ideologically opposite poles. I as a progressive may consider a conservative’s ‘pragmatic’ as ideological and partisan and I can say the reverse for the politically conservative individual in regards to my ‘pragmatic’. Because we are most likely to always remain at opposing loggerheads, we can only negotiate and come to compromise on contentious points in public policy. But as the opposing lines are drawn the electorate will have the opportunity to select from two different paths to the future. The outcome would be the only acceptable mandate to govern from one ideological pole as opposed to another.