When I started this writing journey back in 2016 I did it mainly because the world felt like it was coming apart at the seams, and I thought I could bring people together.
It seems naive now, but I really did think that. I thought that conservatives were misunderstood because for several decades, we were so busy living our lives, we’d left our movement in the hands of some people who did not have America’s best interests at heart and represented conservatism in ways that did not represent the views of most cons. We kept voting for them and letting them be our mouthpieces since they were better than the alternative, but we didn’t agree with them on all the issues and even when we did, we didn’t approve of their messaging.
Under this assumption, I felt that liberals couldn’t be blamed for thinking the worst of conservatives, because the people who were representing us were all too eager to show them our worst sides, and never seemed to manage to put forth our best. Despite this, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that liberals actually HATED conservatives. I thought we were mostly on the same side and they just needed to get to know us better and understand our motives were pure – we still wanted what was best for America, we just had two different visions of what that was.
In my innocence, I wrote one of my first widely-published political essays called “America 2017 is a Bad Marriage”. Let’s just say that it did not bring people together in the fashion that I’d hoped, at all, and I realized I had an uphill battle in front of me. Over the course of a very long and disillusioning 2017 I was forced to face the reality that liberals and conservatives were a lot further apart than I realized, and that hostility, even hatred, simmered very close to the surface, particularly for liberals.
A year later I regrouped and tried writing about reconciliation again in “The Odd Couple”, admitting, ok, maybe it’s true, liberals really DO hate conservatives, but we’re stuck together not unlike roommates Oscar and Felix in that old TV show, and we had better learn to get along even if we’re opposites, and you never know, maybe if we try, we could even find some common ground.
That didn’t go much better.
Only slightly daunted (I am not easily daunted) I changed strategy and tried to inspire conservatives to reach across the aisle in less aggressive ways in my “standing up by backing down” series and I did my darndest to be a vocal internal critic of conservatives, calling them out when they were wrong, like I did in “Mata Hairy”.
I even wrote a piece called “fear and loathing” in which I begged liberals to search their hearts and try to see things from the conservative perspective, to think of reasons why cons might actually be fearful of inflammatory liberal rhetoric and extreme and drastic policy suggestions. Yet en masse the liberals, even those I consider good friends, stood before me and blinked and scratched their heads and acted befuddled at the very question, even as social media seethed with declarations of hate and threats of violence against conservatives coming from celebrities, pundits, journalists, and politicians alike.
Since November 8, 2016, I have reached out to liberals repeatedly to try to find common ground, to forge connections, to build upon our mutual foundation of being stuck together as inmates in the insane asylum that is America of the 21st century. And for my trouble I’ve been slapped down, verbally crapped on, humiliated, had my motives and my intelligence called into question, and worst of all, I have had my every deepest fear proven right. As I sit here 3 years later I don’t think we CAN get along. I really don’t. Because the liberals don’t want to get along, they want to win.
I didn’t want to be right. Not at all. I wanted the liberals to prove to me that they actually WERE more moral than conservatives, that they were the better people as they’d claimed for so long, that my worst fears about them becoming hyperpartisan fascists ready to burn the handy scapegoats of conservatism at the proverbial stake were wrong. I wanted all of us who were decent people on both sides to come together, to join forces and shout down the people who would divide us – across the political spectrum.
But liberals, even the decent ones, didn’t want to do that. They only wanted to shout down the people on MY side, and much to my very great surprise, even at times when I tried to criticize conservatives from the inside in ways most liberals should have agreed with, rather than join with me, they turned on me and attacked me instead. Even when they didn’t know what I was talking about, rather than take the time to find out, some of my liberal acquaintances were quite happy to assume I was the worst conservative stereotype their Vox-soaked brains could conjure up.
I realized that they preferred the scary conservative under the bed to the reality of a nuanced person that has weighed the available information and drawn a different conclusion than they have and I have had to do some very deep thinking about why that might be the case.
The moment I realized my worst fears were 100% true was when I published my piece “Ashes in the Wind”. Once again, I had tried to write a post about finding common ground, wondering if it was even possible, and once again, liberals treated me disingenuously, claiming that my discussing a book set in the Civil War era that I read as a teenager marked me as a Confederate sympathizer or something. In their rush to damn me and to correct me like I was an errant child, they utterly missed the point of what I was actually saying, which had nothing to do the the Confederacy or racism and was simply about people of divergent beliefs getting along. Even the kindest and most thoughtful among them implied what I should have written instead was yet ANOTHER thought piece in which Problematic Badthink was yet again overanalyzed rather than an IMO-much-more-desperately-needed investigation on whether liberals and conservatives could ever see eye to eye.
It was baffling. What did they want from me, anyway? I eventually realized that what they wanted me to write the piece that THEY would have written in my place. They didn’t want to hear my take, they wanted me to write their take for them. They wanted to bully me, a writer of conservative thinkpieces, into writing a liberal thinkpiece!
And let me just say not only no, but HELL NO. If there’s one thing the world has enough of, it is liberal navelgazing about Problematic Badthink. We have very serious issues developing before our eyes here and now that MUST BE DEALT WITH if this nation is to continue, and I find exploring those issues of much more importance than yet another rumination on the Problematic Badthink of the past to be tossed on the heap with the other 123,456,789 of them that were published today alone. But I thanked them for their input anyway, because it made me understand for the first time the mindset of the people who I was dealing with. I am endlessly appreciative for the negativity surrounding “Ashes in the Wind” because above all else, it was the response to this post which really brought it home to me what the liberal endgame is.
This is war. I can’t deny it any more. Whether it’s a political cold war, a culture war, whatever you want to call it, I can’t pretend otherwise any longer. I’ve been attacked one too many times for trying to make peace. I tried to bring people together repeatedly, and I failed spectacularly every time. And much to my surprise the ones who didn’t want to reconcile were liberals – not all of them, but a pretty goddamn large chunk of them.
I can no longer deny what is self-evident – a good many liberals want to destroy what they can destroy of my culture, the culture that has brought women like me more freedom, wealth, and security than has ever been the case through all of history. I can no longer deny that liberals want to tear down the things I love (even a lot of things that ARE LIBERAL) and replace it with a philosophy and a world that I do not think many people, even liberals themselves, are going to like at all. And they’re going to do this by doing what they tried to do to me – tearing conservatives down until the weak-willed give in and start talking about issues of liberal interest (and sadly, I’ve already seen this happen to a couple of good people) and demonizing the ones who refuse to back down.
And I guess I will be demonized because I will NEVER EVER EVER start writing liberal thinkpieces to make people like me. EVER.
Bring it. Because what I learned from watching Republican morons like Jeb Bush try and fail and try and fail to curry favor with Democrats is that it doesn’t matter, liberals are gonna demonize me anyway, because they need to believe in the conservative boogeyman under the bed. They NEED me to be a boogeyman because they’re more comfortable with a conservative boogeyman than a thoughtful person making a reasoned argument and seeing the world a different way. If I don’t look enough like a boogeyman for their liking, they’ll poke me with sharp sticks and thrust hot torches into my face to try to provoke me to act like the boogeyman they want me to be. And even if I stay strong and continue to be the better person, they’ll twist my words and take things out of context or even outright lie about my intentions.
If I write an article about a book I read in junior high school, they’ll make it about me being a Confederate sympathizer. If I say a nice thing about Kellyanne Conway – regardless of her politics, an admirable woman who truly worked her butt off to get where she is today – they’ll call me a Nazi (MY GOOD FRIEND CALLED ME A NAZI. A GOOD FRIEND!) I’ve been accused of wanting children in cages and hoping that people without health insurance die. And why?? Because I have to be a boogeyman. If I exist, and I am not a boogeyman, worse still I am a thoughtful and kind person, then it means that the liberal worldview may actually be wrong because I’ve seen the same dataset and I drew a different conclusion. They don’t want to inspect my conclusions too much because they might find reasons to question the massive holes in their philosophy.
A whole lot of liberals have some burning and undeniable need to see themselves as the smartest and nicest and most ethical people who know the One True Way to carry America forward to her glorious future because that’s how they defined themselves back in 1968, and the existence of people like me who are also smart and nice and ethical and think there’s a different way, shatters their illusions.
Knowing this, I quit writing about politics openly for a while, I admit it, because I got fed up with the perpetually deceit-soaked responses to the entirely reasonable stuff I wrote and I was, quite frankly, so upset at times that I felt tempted to resort to being a boogeyman, to lash out against the liberals as they lashed out against me. That’s the way the game is played, you see – attack until a conservative lashes out, and then retreat to the moral high ground and congratulate yourselves on how much better a person you are.
I thought maybe what my purpose was instead, was to prove to the liberals in my readership that a conservative can be witty, bright, insightful, talented, AND conservative. And that, I think, is a mission that I have accomplished. A liberal I admire greatly once called me “everything a conservative should be” and another one I don’t admire at all called me “a knockoff version of Ann Coulter” and I take both of those as huge compliments even though the one was meant as an insult.
But it’s not enough.
Since my first post in 2017 I’ve concluded that we got to where we are now NOT because Republican voters left the conservative movement in the hands of some people who did not have America’s best interests at heart. The truth is, the media simply didn’t cover any of the conservative pundits and politicians making better arguments. They existed, I just didn’t know it at the time. The media has been cherrypicking the voices we heard, amplifying the useful idiot conservatives who either said what liberals wanted to hear, like Mitt Romney, or who said what liberals wanted to fear, like Steve King. Before November 8, 2016, I still accepted the mainstream media at face value, but after 3 years of fake news and laughably wrong predictions, of scare tactics and deceptive statistics, of stories based around the single tweet of a lunatic living under a rock somewhere, now I know better. And thus I really really guess that I gotta, even though I don’t want to not even a little, start hitting it harder on politics than I have been lately. Because I cannot trust the mainstream media to represent reality. Their game is creating boogeymen.
If I tell liberals “hey, I’m scared of you” and they really, truly can’t come up with a single reason why cons might have some concerns about the rhetoric coming from the liberal movement (while I think the bulk of them were dirty rotten fakers, some – the best of them, matter of fact – did appear to be genuinely at a loss why I might fear their movement because don’t you know it’s all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, and LOVE SWEET LOVE????) then we as conservatives have got to do better at making our case to them. We can’t trust the middlemen to do it for us, be they the Republican Party or the New York Times. Decent liberals are not even hearing most of the arguments we might make to them, and only part of this is due to selective hearing. The media is telling them lies. Politicians are telling them lies. And their friends and cohorts just say what they want to believe back and forth to each other like a circle of parrots.
Liberals haven’t wised up like we have, cons, they still believe the media and the politicians and the swamp creatures of Washington DC, and they WANT to see the conservative boogeyman wherever they look. They want to see the conservative boogeyman because it justifies not only their hatred, but their sense of superiority.
They have no one to speak truth to them if we don’t do it.
So I guess I can’t keep hiding behind Jane Austen vampire stories and reviews of 30 year old romance novels, as much as I’d like to. I gotta take the fight to the entrenched liberal battlements because they’ll never come down off their intellectual mountaintop to hear it otherwise. Even if they disagree, and they will, at least they’ll hear an argument from someone who ain’t Tom Nichols or Newt Gingrich or Evan McMullin or Matt Shea – conservatives who tell liberals what they want to hear and a few more who confirm their priors.
And so I gird my loins and don my spiritual armor and prepare once more to jump into the fray, to speak truth, even though my voice shakes. As is the case in any war, even a cultural war, being one of the guys in the trenches is hard and scary and may even cost you your life (literally, or figuratively) and a lot of people are too cowardly or too weak to do it. But I can do it, I have the ability. I understand the arguments and I can make them eloquently without calling anyone “snowflake” even when it’s so, so very tempting to. Most people don’t have the ability, or the strength. So I don’t have the choice not to answer the call.
Pray for me, for wisdom, for strength, for courage, and above all else for the future of the nation who depends upon the people like you and me who are not so all consumed with partisanship we can no longer see the world beyond the colors red and blue.
9 thoughts on “Oh Lawd, She Comin”
Yup. I mean, I said it on Twitter: I’m not really a conservative but they’ll talk to you. They’ll disagree with you politely (or heatedly) but they’ll engage the thought. Disagree with a liberal and it’s Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers time.
Yeah. For all my flapping my flap about conservatism, in most ways (aesthetically, artistically, that kind of thing not to mention a good deal of political issues) I’m way more liberal. I’m just scared of what seems to me to be just like you say, pod people, watching people I know being transformed into something I don’t recognize, taking on these behaviors that are completely out of character for them and I don’t even know what to do or say or even think about it. And it started before Trump, too, that’s the creepiest thing.
For me this goes back to ca. 2000. I (admittedly flippantly but not unjustifabily) couldn’t get excited about Bush/Gore. What, I opined, was the difference, really? And the answer, basically, was that W was Hitler. Well, that’s a conversation killer right there.
Salena Zito, one of the few journalists who saw Trump coming,says Trump is a symptom, not a cause. And as someone who watched the way Porkbusters, Palin, the Tea Party, etc., were slandered, I’m inclined to agree. The playbook for handling Trump is the same, however, and if they’re successful, I shudder to think what comes next.
Anyway, my basic political attitude has always been “leave people alone as much as possible”. However my interpretations of that over time have been all over the political map.
I probably disagree with a lot of your views, both in this OP and in politics. If we were both in the legislature, we’d sit on opposite sides and probably would vote differently on many, many bills and resolutions. But….
….we’d probably be able to work together on *some* common things. That’s largely because I respect your point of view and value what you’ve written (mostly at OT, but I’ve read a few of your posts here). I think it’s a shame the way people have pounced on you there.
What bothers me, as someone who is probably a “liberal” by many, many definitions, is that the types of disagreements I have with the OT liberals (and real life liberals, too, but those disagreements are softened by, you know, real life and the need to get along with each other)* probably brand me as a conservative in their eyes. In other words, I *can’t* be liberal because I question some of what they say. Therefore, I must be one of “them” (conservatives). I remember once I had the temerity to suggest that people who opposed ACA or medicare for all really did want people to have access to health care (my unstated addendum is, they don’t believe ACA and medicare for all is the way to do it….maybe I should have stated it). And of course, at least one person tsk-tsk’d me about it.
All that said, I realize we live in a polarizing context, where not falling in step makes one a reactionary and a bad person. I don’t say that wholly facetiously, either. I, too, am bothered by some of the “let’s not be as judgmental against Trump supporters” pieces I’ve written at OT, and I’m not entirely sure what I’m defending or even where my allegiances lie.
At any rate, I look forward to reading anything further you publish at OT (or here). I do have to confess, however, that I don’t visit OT quite as much as I used to. It’s still my “internet home” of sorts, but I feel like an outsider.
*Remember I work in an academic institution, where liberalism is assumed, perhaps not by all, but by many, many of my colleagues.
I actually doubt we’d be very far apart at all, Gabriel. There are a lot of conservative/libertarians who might have opinions on philosophy/social issues but don’t feel the need to pass laws governing human behavior (like, I am not a fan of abortion for a variety of reasons, including some that are extremely rooted in feminism, and would never make it illegal because the cost to liberty would be too high). I have a lot of liberal sensibilities (I worked to make gay marriage a thing ages ago, long before Hillary and Barack LOL, free speech, drug legalization, I despise military spending and would bring home the troops, and it’s disgusting how Republicans hand out corporate welfare freely while calling for cutbacks in the social safety net which is a fraction of the amount) and think many, many things conservatives do are shameful and worthy of facepalm.
I really feel like liberalism left me and not the other way around. In a million different realities I can envision I’d be liberaling it up on OT and not the other way around. But in this reality I am legit scared of where a lot of liberals’ heads are at right now, and this was true BEFORE Trump was even running for president. The stuff that has happened subsequently has just convinced me that wow ok I really wasn’t being paranoid there, although I’d still love to see liberals return to form right now I have to stand where I feel like I’m adding the most value to some sort of return to normalcy, if that makes sense.
I really, really, more than you will ever know, appreciate your kind words. Whether you ever read another word I write or not, I will always be very thankful and grateful for the time you’ve taken to respond to me in such a considerate fashion. 🙂
Thanks for your (as always) considerate reply.
(By the way, I have very mixed feelings about abortion myself, but, like you, wouldn’t outlaw it.)
The making of abortion illegal has prerequisites that include a dramatic reduction of their political power.
Up Next (Circa 2020, same as 2016): Some whacko conservative starts to talk about taking away women’s right to vote.
And, please, remember — the left is just as freaking crazy as the right.
As of 2020, free speech is now a conservative issue, not a liberal one.
Hate speech legislation is tantamount to variable justice based on thoughts in your head.
Difficult to prove a thought, innit?
You gird for war, but you fight the wrong people.
Say, in your writing, you reach 500 people? Good, very good.
Even make 500 True Converts to Your Thoughts?
That’s just a drop in the bucket.
And you’re doing exactly what they fucking want you to.
Look up, and remember who gets bailed out, and who carries the bag.
Left ain’t got new ideas — it’s all old ideas, gussied up.
Or can’t you hear Colored People when they says People of Color?
Left ain’t got their own ideas anymore — like free speech.
They got ruddy antiquated ideas about hatin’ yer neighbor.
Do you remember how easy it used to be to make a conservative hate all blacks? Do you?
Crime and Punishment, again and again. Welfare Queens.
Now all Americans have done lost their minds. Not just the conservatives.