fear and loathing

fear and loathing

The question on the table is this – what are conservatives so afraid of?

My concern regarding the direction the liberal movement is headed is a theme I’ve harped on a lot recently. I believe that fear of the left is the primary driving force underlying conservatism right now (quibbles over tariffs and Ayn Rand kinda take a back seat to existential angst) and when I’ve said this, several people have blinked at me curiously and wondered why. I decided it’s too big a question for me to try and answer in a comments section or a tweet in between making my children lunch and walking the dog and doing the laundry. It deserves a slow and thoughtful response, not a rushed one. It deserves a thinkpiece.

So here we go. Thinkpiece powers, activate!

People – the blinky ones – claim to want specifics. They expect, and some even demand, specifics from me, specific instances to support my claim that conservatives are scared of liberals and further, that they have valid reason to be.  

The trouble is, I don’t think that understanding and empathy is really the driving force behind this request. I think these people want specifics so they can disprove what I’m saying. Because by and large, that has been my experience, arguing with liberals. They ask for specifics and examples so they can trap me into arguments about namby pamby details instead of listening to what I’m really trying to say.  (Indeed, I suspect this is why a good many commenters on my fave site Ordinary Times.com often engage in drawn-out exchanges where no one will commit to a position, instead trading bizarre cryptic statements and non-committal Socratic-Method-y questions back and forth until I lose interest and stop reading.) These requests for specifics are not made in good faith, not to further understanding, but to mock, diminish, and belittle my examples so they can undermine my case, even if only in their own minds. They demand specifics only so they can assure themselves that I am crazy or overly sensitive or rabidly partisan.

I am none of those things, so I’m going to vault over the pit of punji sticks entirely and decline. I refuse to give specifics because I refuse to get sucked into an argument about specifics. Instead, I humbly request that any liberals who are reading this, take a look around and using that famed liberal empathy, try to put yourself in the shoes of a conservative – even someone only just barely the smallest bit conservative like me – and imagine how YOU would feel if you were us. And if you really really can’t do that, really can’t conjure up even a drop of empathy, think about that, consider what THAT means. A person who you actually kind of know, if only just a little, is standing in front of you saying “I am scared of the people you’re associating yourself with” and you cannot find any reason other than misguided paranoia at best, outright lies at worst. A person who you actually kind of know is asking for your compassion and understanding and you are demanding specifics not so you can better understand them, but so you can debunk their claims. A person you actually kind of know is trying to share their experience with you but you really cannot find any common ground, cannot conjure any sympathy or empathy for millions of your fellow human beings and so have written them off as liars or lunatics. Suffice it to say I have a firm belief based on my own personal experience and observation that many if not most conservative people in America today are scared of the left for what I consider to be entirely valid reasons. And the few who aren’t are so complicit in the system as it is that they may as well be of the left themselves.

What am I so afraid of? Not specific instances, but in generic terms?

I believe that humans are flawed and imperfect, capable of both incredible good and incredible evil. Humans are selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even the good ones have a nasty Puritan streak. Despite this, I like people. I enjoy them. I am one myself, I’m occasionally surprised to recall. I’m neither cynic nor a curmudgeon and I remain ever optimistic and hopeful that we’re going to get this silly misunderstanding worked out between us.*  

I’m brimming over with tolerance and camaraderie for my fellow humans of all walks of life, ethnicities, religions, and creeds. My level of cheer on a good day is Pollyanna and on a bad day is Little Orphan Annie. Regardless of whether we agree all the time, I like you and I like talking to you. I treasure our friendship. In the interest of full disclosure, a couple of you I could probably do without, but I don’t HATE you, not even a little.

But delusional I am not. Historically, the human story has been one of horrifying violence and cruelty. If there’s a Bad Thing you can envision, some human somewhere has done it already and lots of others are thinking about doing it right this very minute. Even without the human awfulness factor coming into play, life is hard and will always BE hard because the world itself is out to kill you. Mother Nature is sending cold temperatures and wild animals and solar radiation and bees and starvation and bacteria at you from every direction. Gravity in the wrong place at the wrong time can kill you. Even your own body can kill you (take my word for it, my own body is attacking itself remorselessly even as we speak.)

And yet despite people being these fundamentally depraved, inherently awful critters, despite the very universe itself plotting your demise, humanity is on a trajectory towards better. Things started off terrible in this ol’ world and were terrible for quite some time, but only just recently things have gotten fantastically, unimaginably better. Not only would Og the Caveman be blown away by our world as it is, even people born just a generation ago would be amazed by the lives we are blessed to have. The poorest Americans have a better quality of life than the richest Americans two hundred, one hundred, even just 50 years ago. Thomas Jefferson’s wife died of mastitis. Calvin Coolidge’s son died from a blister on his foot. John and Jackie Kennedy lost a premature son who would have lived had he been born today. By any metric short of perfection, humans who are alive right here right now, even in the worst of situations, are the absolute luckiest sons of bitches who have ever lived. Just because we have painkillers, if for no other reason.

I have a client who is about 20 years younger than me. She told me her grandfather was a professional bicycle racer. Like, he literally made a living racing bicycles. My grandfather rode a horse to school. His feet were deformed because his shoes didn’t fit him as a child and he probably couldn’t have ridden a bike if he wanted to. His younger brother died of the Spanish flu and he himself nearly died in a blizzard – saved only by that trusty horse, believe it or not.  

This happened in 20 years’ time.

America is so fucking awesome it is mind boggling. Modernity is so fucking awesome it is mind boggling. We have freedom and video streaming on demand. Everything is like Disneyland and Christmastime all rolled into one. I have a tiny computer I carry with me everywhere. I have five children and none of them died. In my fridge I have Dr. Pepper which is my favorite food in the whole wide world.  A can of liquid sugar is my favorite food in the world and I can have it whenever I want to. America gave us those things.

So what am I so afraid of?  

I’m afraid you people are going to mess it up.  

Remember the thing where people are capable both of incredible good and incredible evil? Well, the biggest danger of humanity lies in the fact that most incredible evil has been done by those who believe themselves to be doing incredible good. No one ever rode out on a pogrom in the middle of the night thinking that they were the bad guys and they were going out to get innocent victims. They believe they are going out to get the bad people and that all actions are justified because good needs to conquer evil.  

I have come to believe that there’s a culture war going on  – a real one, not the Kabuki theater that Democrats and Republicans have played at since the turn of the 20th century – and conservatives have been unwittingly drafted to play the bad guys. (Gee, thanks, Republican milquetoasts, for taking part in this sham so you could have the illusion of political power for a little while longer.) In this culture war, conservatives are allegedly Darth Vader, the Nazis, Panem, Lord Voldemort, and the Handmaid’s Tale villains all rolled into one. I personally believe that this culture war is obvious and self-evident and that liberals, even liberals I really really like a super whole lot, to some extent buy into the concept. They are the good guys, they are the future, that the right and proper final evolution of human culture will look exactly like what they envision the perfect society should look like, and in order for this beautiful day to dawn, conservatives have to go.

In short, liberals believe they believe they are not only good, but immune from evil. Because they believe they ARE good – not just a person who is good, but that they actually ARE Good, that liberal people are the human embodiment of Good Itself.  They believe their vision of the future represents what an ideal human culture should look like, they believe that they know how to get to that ideal culture that they envision and they believe that I am standing in their way.  Liberals believe that I AM Evil and they are not only immune from evil, but that they are Good.

How can this story have a happy ending – at least for me?

I see signs – and again, I don’t think these signs are anything less than fully obvious – that forces are in motion to turn conservatives into a despised minority (if they aren’t one already, which I’m not entirely sure that they aren’t). Historically speaking, things don’t go well for the despised minority, especially when the despised minority is perceived to have wealth or privilege that they don’t deserve and that others believe they deserve more. People have been murdered for wearing eyeglasses or owning old books (I will be doubly dead) based on this toxic idea. And yeah maybe you’re right, maybe this won’t happen tomorrow. I’ll grant you that. But I don’t worry just for myself, but for my children, who also wear glasses and even read books on occasion, when I force them to by confiscating their video games. Maybe these changes won’t happen in our lifetime, but if this myth where conservative people are the root of all evil continues to spread unchecked, it will happen eventually. Because humans are selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even the good ones have a nasty Puritan streak.

I have a dear friend who’s a truly wonderful person. She’s so fabulous that she adopted an HIV positive orphan from the Ukraine and when she found out that the little one had a best friend at the orphanage, she adopted a second HIV-positive Ukrainian orphan so they could stay together. She’s an amazing, amazing person; I admire her so much. But she has stated openly and repeatedly that she would not help Christians if they were being persecuted unless it was first demonstrated “they weren’t hurting anyone with their beliefs any more”. She would not take action to prevent people, human people, from being persecuted unless they changed their beliefs to be in line with hers. Not their actions, their BELIEFS. She is an otherwise supremely excellent person (better than me, for sure) and yet she has stated this viewpoint repeatedly, thoroughly, and with crystal clarity. I did not mistake her; in fact I asked her to clarify her position, and she did. Many other equally good people I know agreed with her, applauded her. Many other equally good people I know expressed similar sentiments on multiple occasions.

This is not normal.

This was years before Trump. Harsh and vicious liberal rhetoric is not caused by people being upset over Trump. Trump was caused by harsh and vicious liberal rhetoric.

Scratch that, because it ISN’T liberal. The core beliefs I thought being a liberal entailed, the concepts I embraced when I was 14 years old and first starting to understand politics, the philosophies that I’ve spent 35 years studying, the stuff I still fully believe in to this very day that keeps me from being a Republican, are gone. Belief in free speech and free religion and free assembly. Belief in the rights of an individual to live the way they want and love who they want and to control their own body even when you don’t like how they live or who they love or what they put into their body. Tolerance, true tolerance (fun fact, tolerance is NOT just tolerating people you like and agree with). Understanding that there are no good people or evil people, that we’re all products of our DNA and environments and all human action needs to be viewed in that light, with compassion and empathy. Trying to understand people’s behavior based on our commonalities as humans rather than our differences as tribes. Those things are gone.

When I call liberalism on the telephone looking for those things it’s all like “New Line, Who Dis?”.

 What liberalism was is dead and what has replaced it is not only ugly, it is utterly, completely and totally illiberal. Liberalism used to be about nurturing the best impulses human beings have and understanding that sometimes it’s hard to nurture our fine impulses since we’re all selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even good folks have a nasty Puritan streak. So we need to codify our finest impulses into incorruptible laws and well-designed systems rather than relying upon fine impulses. The liberal movement in 2019 is not only playing to the worst, very worst impulses that human beings have, it also appears wants to tear down legal protections and cultural touchstones that stand in the way of that agenda. And the good and awesome liberals out there are snoring at the wheel, dreaming of Burning Man or maybe visiting Austin, not even seeming to realize that the vision we once shared is gone. What you guys are supporting and voting for now is something entirely different that I really don’t believe you actually want.

Please wake up. Wake up!! Because you are so much better than this. You are the reason I’ve been proud to identify as a liberal for all these years. You are the reason I spent years begging and pleading and cajoling my fellow libertarians not to get too chummy with conservatives because our natural allies were liberals. You are better than what you’re becoming and you have to stop it because you’re the only ones who have the power to do it and you have to act fast because now is the only time it can be stopped. By the time these things are underway, it is too late to stop them. You may think I’m wrong and paranoid but this is the part of the movie where the crazy old scientist no one wants to listen to is saying “You have got to stop injecting that adorable baby gorilla with HGH, testosterone, and radioactive waste because it’s only going to get bigger.”

I am afraid you people are going to mess it up.

And setting the threat of actual violence aside, because I know you don’t believe that could happen, that the adorable baby gorilla you cradle so lovingly in your arms could never possibly grow up and be worse than Dick Cheney. Set it aside for now and focus on the practical elements instead. The reason I am an economic conservative is because I believe that free markets (and just for the record, what we have now is very far from a free market economy; I don’t like our present economy any better than you do) really truly are better for everyone than managed economies. I believe free market economies create more opportunities for women, minorities, and the poor than managed economies. I believe free market economies create exponentially more wealth for exponentially more people even though it isn’t “fairly” distributed. Managed economies are like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse, giving over power to a handful of corrupted businessmen and bureaucrats who are going to be just as self-interested as ever they were, because humans are inherently self-interested. I believe that moving towards a socialist, managed economy will bring about less freedom, less prosperity, less technological innovation, less access to health care and other necessities than a free market could bring. It will also make the poor poorer in the end, because I believe, strongly, with every fiber of my being that a rising tide really does raise all boats. I believe even more so that a minimum basic income will serve to simply create a permanent underclass from which people like me, barely hanging onto the lower middle class with the very tips of my fingernails, will never be able to emerge.

You’re going to kill what has provided me, an Actual Poor Person, with a lifestyle that the richest man on the planet a hundred years ago could only dream of, as surely as the greedy farmer in the story killed the goose who laid the golden eggs.

And you’re going to do it because things aren’t perfect, aren’t equal, aren’t fair.  They’re more perfect than ever, more equal than ever, and fairer than ever, but they aren’t as perfect, equal, and fair as you imagine they could be if only you were allowed to run the world. Funny thing is, speaking as an Actual Poor Person, I don’t care about “fair.” I don’t care about “inequality” and nor should you. If we are all better off than we would be otherwise, what does it matter if Paris Hilton has too much money and I don’t have quite enough? Because I assure you, even in a socialist paradise, there will still be Paris Hiltons gadding about, there will still be inequality, because all systems are run by people and people are selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even the good ones have a nasty Puritan streak. Collectivism has failed everywhere it’s been tried because people are selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even the good ones have a nasty Puritan streak. The socialism you claim to want is only going to protect the rich at the expense of the rest of us. The freedom that has given me the ability to run my own life and own my own body inasmuch as I can, will vanish and others – the king or the prefect or the Politburo will be making essential decisions for me.

Same as it ever was.  

Utopia is not an option.  There is no ending where the bad conservatives are eradicated and the glorious socialist future of humankind dawns bright and free of trouble.  Because even in the glorious socialist future you’re still gonna be surrounded by people, selfish, tribalistic, xenophobic, superior, mean-spirited, and even the good ones have a nasty Puritan streak.  

Even the liberal ones do.

*But I’m still holding onto that case of Chef Boyardee ravioli in my cupboard just in case.   

8 thoughts on “fear and loathing

  1. Hello-it’s Em from OT/Twitter stopping by, after reading Pillsy’s response This is a great piece of writing, even if I have a lot of disagreement. Or, maybe not disagreement, as I don’t think it’s accurate to “disagree” with someone’s perspective. It is what it is.
    I find myself identifying as that person demanding specifics, with an eye toward debunking them. My intention is not to belittle or mock or dismiss, but to change your (“you” as a stand-in for whomever I am debating) mind. I want to know exactly WHY you think/feel something, so I can explain in hopes I can make you not think/feel it. I will try harder in the future to see things from “your” perspective, not simply as a challenge to overcome.
    It may be of no surprise to you that we liberals would also describe our goals as “the rights of an individual to live the way they want and love who they want and to control their own body even when you don’t like how they live or who they love or what they put into their body”, and that from our perspective, it is the conservatives who threaten that.
    I have a much easier time entertaining the right’s differing thoughts on economic policy than I do on social issues (though I can’t bring myself to agree with much of them.)
    Now I will emerge from my lefty trenches somewhat and say that I do see an alarming trend of speech restriction that seriously concerns me. Not true First Amendment violations, because I don’t see it from government actors so much, but the shouting down, protesting, disruption of speech by individuals who don’t like a speaker’s ideas. I am very much not in favor of that. Maybe in ten years or so, I will find myself where you are, saying “guys, guys, this is not the liberalism I signed up for!”

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    1. thanks for reading. I’m going to come back and comment at a later time as it’s my husband’s day off and I’d like to give this the time it needs rather than rushing through. Really appreciate your thoughtful reply.

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    2. While I completely understand where you’re coming from, I’ve decided that I’m not giving specifics. I’ve had some really negative experiences with OT people this week that have only strengthened my resolve not to. I will not give them any grist to justify their awfulness with.

      Much of what is happening is, like our recent convo about “Easter worshipers”, things that seem small and easy to dismiss when looked at in isolation but when looked at as a whole, are terrifying. It’s like that part in A Bug’s Life when the grasshoppers realize ants may be small but there are so many of them that they’re going to be defeated (yes, I know the grasshoppers are the villains in that, but the point is still valid). It’s death by 1000 cuts, so it’s very unfair when I hold something up and you guys roll your eyes and say “duh that’s only a paper cut” when I’m covered in blood and getting woozy, LOL.

      I know you know that I chose those words deliberately. I believe there is a huge disconnect between where conservatism ~may~ have been in 1950 (because as Vikram will tell you, this state of affairs where the Democrats are the supposed voice of the downtrodden is totally new within the past couple decades and they have a lot to answer for in that regard too…it was our culture as a whole that shifted and NOT a Dem victory over the big bad Republicans that allowed these cultural changes to occur) and where it is now. I feel there’s this perception where liberals see only the worst stereotypes of cons, most of which are entirely outdated, while viewing liberals always through the rosiest of glasses, with the most generous of interpretations of every action. If things were ever like that (in such sense that it was conservatives ALONE that had those beliefs and not the culture as a whole) they aren’t now for the vast majority of conservatives.

      Liberals don’t want to let people run their own bodies. They want abortion. They are two different things. I don’t see liberals calling for deregulation of the medical industry (in fact quite the opposite), I don’t see liberals allowing birth control pills sold over the counter without a doc visit, I don’t see liberals advocating for homebirths (at least not as a standard position, of course some individuals have that opinion), and only the faintest whispers about legalizing drugs. I see Mike Schilling (a lovely man, who I really do like) wanting to ban 32 ounce sodas “because no one needs them!” and a lot of people on the left making fun of Michelle Duggar’s vagina and a fair number of liberal extremists calling for limits on the number of children people can have. I see you guys wanting to control my body in every way shape and form except for abortion, and using a lie about controlling ones’ own body as a trick to try to convince me you’re on my side when you’re not. I would not make abortion illegal, but liberals are speaking out of both sides of their mouths saying “you get to control your own bodies” when what they are really saying is “you get abortion”

      (dammit, that was a lot of specifics)

      Liberals, a LOT of them, anyway, don’t want to let people live the way they want and thus we get this constant policing of people’s beliefs and the words that come out of their mouths, calls to ban homeschooling and guns and control, control, control everything else. I think this is self-evident and obvious and widespread, but it’s like the abortion thing, want one thing and say the other. If you want to let people live the way they want as long as they live the way YOU want, that is not actually letting people live the way they want (by you I don’t mean you, personally). I truly believe that a great many liberals are not at all down with this state of affairs, but they’ve gotten so used to seeing the cons as villainous bad guys in a Hollywood movie, and the libs through their rose colored glasses that they’re not seeing the writing on the wall.

      My least-supported position (for now) is letting people love who they want. As a libertarian, I think gay people and trans people have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies as long as they’re not bothering anyone else. I’ve had this belief since I can remember, I was an activist long before it was cool to be an activist for this issue, my husband ran for Congress in 2000 on a gay rights platform and I was his campaign manager. I also worked on Ruth Bennett’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004 in Wa St. https://lgbt.wikia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bennett A LOT of conservatives are receptive to the gay equality message and have been since I’ve been an activist which is too many years to count now LOL. But I also think that there are some religious people who have a genuine and heartfelt concern and objection and I don’t think these people are monsters who should be demonized and shunned over it. The vast majority of religious people who have issues with gay marriage have these beliefs quietly, do not ever act upon them, and should be allowed to coexist in the world with their quiet beliefs without being ill-treated because of them.

      But as for loving who one wants to love, I am seeing a disturbing trend in liberals value political orthodoxy over love. There are articles running in major news magazines telling people to break up with their loved ones over politics, even suggesting getting divorces over them. There are articles in major news magazines advocating and celebrating not dating people because of the color of their skin. And while I have not read a specific article about this, I also believe a lot of liberals would advocate against dating a Christian. I have seen firsthand people even shunning the significant others of people they disagree with, calling for them to be fired, calling for them to be publicly shamed and humiliated and shunned not for anything they said or did, but because of something their boyfriend or girlfriend did or said (even years ago.) So again, while certainly my least-supported position, things are absolutely moving in that direction.

      Wow, that was way longer than I intended, sorry. I hope this gives you some insight into where my head is at.

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      1. It gives me plenty of insight to where your head is, but it doesn’t make me feel any better, not that that was or should have been your goal. I will admit to lots of shaking my head and making wtf faces as I read, because it is so far outside of my beliefs and my experiences. But I won’t bother to try to convince you of that, because I realize you are not interested in attempts to persuade.
        But I will say my perception and view of what some conservatives are/believe doesn’t come from stereotypes, either, but from my experience with some of the conservatives in my life.
        (Note I said “some”, a word I find tremendously important in conversations like these.)
        I’m really sorry that your recent interactions with OT liberals have been negative for you. I know you are well-respected there.

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  2. Oh Hi! Liberal here. Read some of your very wry and interesting post on OT, came here to read the whole thing. I’m not here to rebut anything you’ve written, cus for sure you’ve written an un-rebutable case!

    First, I’ll tell you that I am a TRUE LIBERAL. The dreaded Dem Socialist, although I am an actual registered D unlike Bernie, of whom I’m not a fan. I call myself a DS because my parents were born the year FDR was elected, and FDR was THE MAN in my family, particularly my Mother’s fam. Social Security, The WPA, GI Bill, The Highway Project, and later Medicare. Those are the social projects that benefited our parents and grandparents and part of what built this great country. I was raised to revere the capitalized words in the Preamble: We the People. Union. Justice, Tranquility. Welfare. Blessings of Liberty. Posterity. I’m quite sure you were too. I would also consider myself an ally of anyone who has been dedicated to the Civil Rights project, the rights of workers and the Labor Movement, from the Union Army, to the Suffragettes (Temperance notwithstanding), to the Civil Rights protesters in the South, to ACT UP and the Equal Marriage folk. All Men (and Women) are equal under the Law.

    So ya, the lack of specifics in your post is a little.. um, un-rebutable! So my goal really is to try and decipher your fear, and see if I assuage you a teeny bit. I’m not going to try and convince you of anything, I would never condescend to you like that. You seem reasonable, I am reasonable. But maybe if I can flesh out some of that fear with some examples, from my perspective, the next time you meet me, A Liberal, you can pick up where this discussion leaves off.

    First off, Liberals agree with every word of your first dozen or so paragraphs! People are sometimes really cool and sometimes they really suck. And when they suck they suck really hard. And having modern life is really great too! Yay pocket communicators! The first not-even-not-true (again, because no specifics) thing is “…the biggest danger of humanity lies in the fact that most incredible evil has been done by those who believe themselves to be doing incredible good.” Which is… true and also not true, and also not not true. You could maybe argue that the people doing the Crusades and the Holocaust we’re doing “evil” but thought they were doing “good” but that’s really beside the point. Which IS your point, I get it, BUT also people doing “good”, like fighting for civil rights, can also do “good”. So I guess I’m saying, don’t be afraid of people saying they are fighting for “good” because Hitler. If Liberals have their hair on fire because of an irreversible threat to our existence due to climate upheaval, it’s because we think “Living on a Habitable Planet” is more important, in the greater scheme of things, than “Personally Having More Money Than God”. So if the former get’s shorthanded into “Good” and the later “Evil”, that’s just politics of the temporal. Check your Head and YMMV.

    Now, I don’t know your AIDS-baby-adopting friend who won’t help Christians, and I won’t defend her either. It’s true that Trump has gotten under our skin a little, but that’s just because the person sworn to defend the Law and the Constitution above all else is a criminal buffoon who insists on laser targeting our every belief and constituency. And some so-called Christians cheer on every bit of his cruelty. So it could just be that. But also, there is a wide gulf in what is considered “Christian Persecution” This Liberal would absolutely call the FBI if they knew in advance the person planning on setting fire to all those churches in the South. Same with the Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka. I condemn all violence against religion, indeed against anyone. But unfortunately, in this country, because they have decided it is so, many many Christians consider “having to squirt ‘Happy Anniversary Bob and Frank’ in icing onto a cake” to be Christian Persecution. It’s entirely possible, because this idea is beamed 24/7 into the consciousness of our populace by certain media outlets, that this is the concept of persecution that your friend was holding when she made those remarks.

    Now we get to the heart, if you will, of your fear. You fear that Liberals, believing they are doing ‘good’ against ‘evil’ are really going to do some truly evil things against a hated ‘evil foe’, which as you have pointed out, is entirely possible, from a history standpoint. Indeed, “Historically speaking, things don’t go well for the despised minority, especially when the despised minority is perceived to have wealth or privilege that they don’t deserve and that others believe they deserve more.”

    Now, leaving aside the peasant uprising for the moment, let’s look at a contemporary example where Liberals defeated the evil Conservatives, seized their assets, torched their houses and marched them all off to labor camps to be re-educated into Model Lefties. Of course I am referring to my home state of California. Oh wait, no. We only relegated them to political oblivion for the sin of not having any ideas relevant to solving 21rst Century Problems. What’s so funny is that many conservatives forget that not so recently, California LOVED LOVED LOVED Republicans. Hollywood and the Bay Area aside, the inland farming areas, ALL of Orange and San Diego Counties, indeed anywhere that wasn’t LA or SF, was pretty solidly Republican. We elected Reagan for Gov and voted him Pres both times. We notoriously impeached a Dem Gov for a Law and Order R, and then even after he boiled his party with anti-immigrant hysteria (forgetting that said immigrants were actually here first), we STILL elected a Republican because he was Arnold and he wasn’t a dick about it.

    No, Republicans are in the minority here because all they had to offer were bankrupting tax cuts and demagoging of immigrants. Probably getting out-of-stater’s (hello Utah!) to fund the anti-marriage equality amendment is what sealed their fate. We the People of the Republic of California decided that equal civil rights, a robustly funded State Gov, and turning the 6th largest global economy toward an ecologically sustainable future we’re important goals. Republicans did not. They are gone now, but only in the political sense. We let them keep their houses.

    I say all this because, well, I can understand that you have this fear for the reasons you say. Trump really does target us for punishment, as his political enemies, as evidenced by not only his public vows to overrun our cities with “illegals” but also his tax rules targeting the types of corporations that Hollywood creatives tend to use. If Democrats tended to target their political enemies for retribution, as Republicans often do, then I would agree you have reason to fear. But as the example of California illustrates, we didn’t burn down their estates. We didn’t target Red Californians for tax penalties by, say, declaring a farm tax. No. We just stopped listening to them and their bad ideas.

    Your next bit, the part about how you really fear that Libs want to destroy market capitalism and institute a “planned economy”… well, hmm… let me just say that – and I know you don’t believe me – we don’t want to do that. So this will require some definition of terms, the dreaded specificity. I realize that, because the words “Left”, “Democrat” and “Communist” have become synonymous due to the concerted efforts over many generations of conservatives, unpacking has to be a thing! These words don’t mean the same things, and since I have to assume you are not a troll who is making a bad faith argument, and since this comes up SO SO often (both from bad-faith trolls good faith people who have been confused by the trolls) I will do so here.

    Quick and simple: The State owning production is “Marxism”. The Workers owning production is “Communism”. The Capitol owning production is “Capitalism.” Those are systems, not political parties. “Marxism” and “Communism” both suck balls. Every lefty knows this. There are no Communists in the Democratic Party. We don’t want a planned economy. We think Capitalism sucks balls too, but not as badly as the other two. At least with Capitalism, as you point out, there can be accountability and fairness based on merit. Special emphasis on “can be”.

    And look! I know it’s confusing! I’m not being facetious or condescending at all, I see it every single day as Fox news screams about Bernie is a socialist who wants to redistribute wealth, and AOC is a socialist who wants to kill our economy with her socialist Green New Deal, and I said right up top that I was a Democratic Socialist and there it is, “Socialist” right there in the name!

    Well, for starters, I’d say what I mean is that I’m a Democratic Socialist-Capitalist but that adding “Capitalist” at the end there is redundant in our society. Yes, Capitalism “won”, and we Libs are fine with that for the most part. We’re ok with Capital as long as it understands that, in a rich and prosperous nation such as ours, Labor, upon whose backs Capitol profits, and The People, whose Commonwealth resources are exploited, are also legitimate stakeholders in the equation. What we on the left and you on the right are REALLY arguing about is under which rules Capital has to play, and to what extent they have to take the concerns of those other stakeholders in to account when they act.

    As I said above, I’m not a fan of Bernie the man, although I agree that some of his proposals are interesting, some not so much. For a better understanding of This Liberal’s Lefty Left thinking, I urge you to take a look at Senator Professor Warren’s proposals. For as much as Capitol hates hates hates her, she is no doubt a Capitalist. She just thinks the code is bad.

    Think of it this way. Corporations are not people, though we do give them legal rights to act as an entity. Corporations are more like a program, that runs on code. The code being a combination of the corporation mission statement and the Federal Regs that it must comply with. One may have, at one time, been able to say that the function of a Corporation was to Make A Thing, and then make money by marketing and selling that Thing for a profit, but that’s not really been true for some time. Since, oh, sometime around the 1970’s, it was sort of decided that the function of a Corporation was to make as much money as it can for its’ Shareholders. Above All Else. Senator Professor Warren’s question is, why? Why does Capitol get to write the rules so they take all the profits when things are good, but then get bailed out, socializing the losses, when things are not? Or in such a way that bankruptcy saves the investors but wipes out the earned pensions of it’s workers? Or get’s to walk away from a disaster for the commonwealth leaving the Government to pay for the clean up? In what way is it a “market efficiency” for a CEO to make 3400x that of his workers, driving them into debt and keeping them impoverished?

    Conservatives like to play philosophical word games. I’ve noticed this. I’m not saying you do this, but, conservatives, especially those that call themselves “Classical Liberals” for some reason, love to do this. They like to discourse on whether “man” is inherently “good” or inherently “evil”, and then move into the difference between “equality of opportunity” and how Liberals all want “equality of outcome” and then they use that to convince themselves that only a “free” market can temper man’s basest impulses and insure that those that work the hardest and best will be rewarded with the all important mana. It’s BS, for the most part, that always fails to account for all the stakeholders, the externalities, and actual human impulses like greed and cruelty. But it makes sure makes them feel like the Liberals are coming for them.

    I’ll wrap this up with a final appeal against your fear. I understand that there is reason to be fearful of the future. There’s a backlash against conservatives fueled by the reaction to the fact that they picked a very scary, unstable person to lead our country. You’re afraid that when we next attain power, we’re going to do to you what you’ve been doing to us: gerrymandering us out of power, subverting our right to vote, taxing us unfairly, and using the power of the State to marginalize our constituencies. We get it, turnabout is fair play and all.

    Rest assured, we just want nice “good” things like solid healthcare that we can rely on while we start a new business, and good education for our kids that we can afford, and a plan to turn our planet towards sustainability. And we promise, there will still be rich people. Just maybe not so rich.

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    1. You’re wrong on about 1000 different levels but you’re wrongest about the notion that liberal extremism is happening because Trump was elected. Trump was a response to extremism on the left (while I mostly think the election of Trump was in no small part accidental and most of the people who voted for him early on did not think he’d really win, a whole lot of people were willing to take a chance on blowing it up rather than having another 4 years of a liberal presidency. they did not trust the forever-caving Republicans to fight back.) I have very strong suspicions that if we had President Cruz or even President Jeb that the playbook would be very, very close to the same.

      My friend said what she did in 2015. Long before Trump. She said it not in fear but in triumph, because she was so happy gay marriage had been legalized. In her happiest moment, in a moment where she – where we had triumphed, because I wanted that too – her first thought was towards getting the Christians who she believed had kept this from happening sooner. And 4 years down the line, I see millions of people just like her. Great people, who I like, who are thinking some really dark and ugly things.

      You’re also wrong that I am afraid because I fear change. I don’t. I fear things going bad. Fearing things going bad is not fearing change. Me fearing change is a fiction you tell yourself so you don’t have to take seriously what I said here.

      I will not give specifics, as already stated. I think that if you really cannot come up with anything, anything at all, that conservatives might find frightening (other than “these people obvs fear change!”) then you’ve proven my point a thousand times over. I am not asking for a rebuttal. I’m calling on liberals to do an internal evaluation of themselves, of the people around them, and if I threw out 10 things, 50 things, 100 things, all you’d do is quickly mark them off your checklist saying “well, that’s not true, that’s not true, that’s not true either” and then never think of this post again. I want you to think about it. I hope that the tiniest sesame seed of a thought worms its way into your brain and maybe it sticks with you for a while. But me giving you a laundry list of things you can immediately disregard is not gonna accomplish my goal of having my readers personally investigate their own hearts and minds to see if there’s anything there that I might find concerning.

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      1. Hey, thanks for responding. Look, as I said, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. At the time I wrote this, I had just come here from OT and I was sort of off-the-cuff responding to your generalized sense of fear and doom. I was just poking examples, and talking basic liberal because I didn’t get any sense, from just this piece, of who you are or what your actual politics may be. I hadn’t read anything else you’d written previously, and I don’t think I needed to in order to formulate a general discussion.
        Having now poked a tiny bit around your archives, I can tell a few more things about you. My assumption as I wrote was that you are a capitol C Conservative, and as I said, that was an arbitrary assumption based on no-facts since you had given me none. Everything I wrote I also wrote assuming you were younger than I with less political history, again an arbitrary assumption based on nothing, but then I also took pains not to address or criticize you or your opinions personally since I was making such arbitrary assumptions. And, it turns out both those assumptions were wrong!

        Seem like you’re more of a small c conservative – of the small-government, leave me alone, Reagan Revolution type, perhaps with some serious Libertarian leanings – maybe even a Classical Liberal! So I can see why you’re not a Republican either, seeing the “Reagan Coalition” disintegrate and then become overwhelmed by the most extreme elements. But then, there never really was going to be a way back once the small-c’s (the actual politicians, not you obviously) signed the pact with the Christian Crazies and the home-schoolers for the votes they needed to get out of the 40+ years of wilderness – in 1995, when they finally broke the House, Republicans had been out of power there for 40 years, and had only held majority for 4 of the previous 58 years. And not to pick a fight, but pretty much the reason congress hadn’t had a working Republican majority since 1932 was that Hoover was a small-c government conservative who botched the Great Depression so famously that no one would trust another one as President until 1980. If Republicans had any hope to regain congressional majorities, they needed more than just small-c’s like you, they needed anti-abortion people, they needed church people, they needed angry white people. And they got em.

        So yea, I get your fear a little more now. I’m fearful too. We should be afraid. Republican’s really suck and Democrats want to change a lot of things, and there aren’t any other choices for political leaders. And I don’t actually have much solace for you: Climate Change is definitely a threat that needs to be addressed in a radical way. Perhaps even down to the core assumptions of what and how our economy works – I have no idea how this will play out. What I do know is that if We, as a People, decide to do this, to de-carbonize and re-align our economy around sustainability, we will do it in a way that takes care of all of us… we will have to because there is no other way to save the world at this point.

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