In my inbox the other day there was a message from a fellow Ricochet member. The person is a libertarian, frustrated and no doubt with a headache from especially hard headbutting with conservatives lately.
And they asked:
In the time you've been on Ricochet have you seen any change or progress in the overall thinking of those at Ricochet?
Because there is such a religious right-wing stronghold here, and I'm really thinking "conservatives" are a lost cause.
My time would be better spent building or participating in a Libertarian forum/website.
The mindset of the hardcore conservatives, will sadly for them, be their undoing. Although, we may be able to get that message across to a few of them, it does not seem that most are receptive.
An interesting question. My reply was this:
I've gotten across to some people. I've introduced them to new ideas. I count one or two actual converts to libertarianism.
You must make your own evaluations, but I've seen progress.
Actually, its much better than I thought it would be. Conservatives, especially on Ricochet, don't march in lock step. For example, any thread about marriage equality usually goes to 100 posts. That's because we're busy arguing about it. If everyone agrees, it doesn't go to a hundred.
If you look at the member feed and then sort it by most active:
You'll see how contentious things are.
But there's hope.
Stick around. If nothing else, its a lot of fun to argue.
And this is true.
It's also true that, although it may not feel like it sometimes, there are a lot of libertarians here on Ricochet. Add to their number many conservatives who lean libertarian, have libertarian tendencies (whether they call them that or not) and some people who simply believe in live-and-let-live. Conservatives come in many shapes and sizes and not all of them are Rick Santorum, especially on Ricochet.
Some time ago, more than 15 but less than 20 years ago, I asked myself what was my role was in things. I'm not the activist type. I'm not going to go to protests. I'm not going to carry signs. I'm not an organizer. I don't want to ring door bells.
My role, I decided, was as a communicator, a spreader of ideas. And Ricochet lets me do that. I talk to people. They talk to me. I make arguments and am able to have the holes pointed out, I get to refine them. It makes me a stronger communicator. And the Code of Conduct and general courtesy and kind temperament of the people in this community makes it an enjoyable and productive place to do that.
And yeah, it can be very frustrating when you are talking about science and you run into people who believe Noah's Flood literally carved the Grand Canyon. But those people exist, they are here, and by engaging them in a non-combative way, I can say that I've learned from them.
But its important to frame one's expectations in a realistic way. I also don't see conversion as the goal. I see spreading ideas at the goal. I've never converted anybody to anything. I've spread ideas and anybody who has converted has chosen to accept them. They did it, not me. All I did was spread the ideas. But any conversion came from within.
So is Ricochet worth it for libertarians? Swimming in a sea of conservatives of various types?