The Unbridgeable Kavanaugh Gap

 

Author and cartoonist Scott Adams colorfully describes one of the lamentable features of our current society as “two movies, one screen.”

The concept is that our reality has, for practical purposes, split into two. Everyone has access to the same information, but we divide into two groups, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other.

This isn’t “glass half-full / glass half-empty.” There, the essential truth remains the same: Both sides agree that 50% of the glass contains water. The significance of what that means is a matter of perspective, but the fundamental premise is not in dispute.

Once upon a time, that’s how politics often worked. Republicans might see a budget deficit and say, “let’s cut taxes and reduce spending (except on defense).” Democrats might see a budget deficit and say, “raise taxes on the wealthy and increase spending (except defense).”

In that kind of environment, compromise and finding common ground is more likely—or at least possible. Why? Because both sides are grounded in at least one fundamental idea that’s the same. Namely, that deficits are usually undesirable. It’s a shared premise.

I admit this is a peculiar example in 2018 since neither party apparently cares much about deficits anymore, but I digress.

Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer shared premises from which we proceed. That affects how we process facts, not just how we assign significance to them. This phenomenon eventually creates an unbridgeable gap. We’re seeing that play out in the direst way in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle.

Enough has been written about the hearings themselves, the political machinations, and the accusations. I’m not going to talk about any of that specifically. Instead, I’m interested in highlighting a very specific reason why this topic has created a divide that will not (and cannot) be closed.

First, the obvious: Yes, the timing of the nomination so close to midterms is clearly a factor in the intensity of the Kavanaugh furor. As is the potential impact of the appointment on abortion jurisprudence. As is, too, the already ratcheted-up baseline level of partisan division and Trump-related rage.

But there’s something else. The way that progressives and conservatives organize their reality is now fundamentally different.

To put a fine point on it: Modern progressives, broadly speaking, order society based on group affiliation. This is the lens through which they view nearly every ideological or cultural question.

Conservatives, by contrast, still orient their thinking primarily to the individual, particularly when it comes to something like due process rights or a default presumption of innocence.

As such, conservatives look at the hearings and are flabbergasted that unsubstantiated and uncorroborated accusations against someone with no previous history of bad behavior are enough to condemn him in the minds of half the country. They see Kavanaugh’s anger during the reconvened Thursday hearing as justified and righteous. After all, he’s been accused of sexual assault and organizing gang rapes. If you were (falsely) accused of heinous crimes that caused you and your family significant anguish, you would likely be upset as well.

Progressives have a much different perspective. Viewing the hearings and related news with a group-oriented mindset fosters ideas connected to Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s group identities. These ideas inform the way progressives perceive each of the key figures in this story.

Whereas even a fair-minded conservative might look at this situation and think, “There are simply too many gaps for a conclusion to be drawn at this time,” someone whose mindset is oriented around groups will fill in those gaps with their perceptions of the relevant groups, drawing a definitive conclusion as a result. This is true of most Democrats and, certainly, most non-Fox mainstream media members (but I repeat myself).

Specifically, note that the lion’s share of the criticisms or condemnations of Kavanaugh—even by media members—reference his race, sex, schooling, and socioeconomic level. The negative associations that the speakers have regarding those groups attach to Kavanaugh, bolstering a record that is largely devoid of content.

Opinion writers at major outlets don’t even attempt to be subtle about it. Here’s a small sample of some recent headlines regarding Kavanaugh:

Brett Kavanaugh didn’t ‘lie’ — he just told some ‘little white-male-privilege lies’ (Chicago Tribune)

The roots of male rage, on show at the Kavanaugh hearing (Washington Post)

Brett Kavanaugh’s Fragile Manhood (Rolling Stone)

A crying Brett Kavanaugh. This is what white male privilege looks like (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

Kavanaugh is lying. His upbringing explains why (Washington Post)

Kavanaugh Borrows From Trump’s Playbook on White Male Anger (New York Times)

Lindsey Graham, Brett Kavanaugh, and the unleashing of white male backlash (Vox)

Hell hath no fury like an entitled white man denied (Washington Post)

The Entitled Rage of Brett Kavanaugh (The Cut)

The Angry White Male Caucus (New York Times)

In sum, Kavanaugh critics believe that society is full of “Brett Kavanaughs,” that they knew people like him in high school or college, and/or that they’ve worked with people like him. They transfer all of those negative beliefs, feelings, and experiences to Kavanaugh himself, making it easy to say, “Of course he did this—this is how privileged, rich, white males who attended elite prep schools act. You know how they are.”

On the other hand, their favorable view of Dr. Ford draws in part from positive aspects of two groups: Women (generally) and sexual-assault survivors (specifically). Most of them know—or are themselves—survivors of some form of sexual assault, and those understandable and powerful sympathies immediately attach to Ford.

Thus, when Ford appears to be enduring a tremendous emotional toll, it only serves to strengthen their support for her. Here, the reaction from someone viewing her testimony with an individual-centric mindset would tend to have a similar reaction, as Ford certainly seemed to have genuinely suffered a trauma. However, their sympathy to her does not extend to the point that they believe Kavanaugh committed the act.

“Job interview” questions

The two groups diverge sharply as to the response to Kavanaugh’s anger and sorrow, though. Individual-oriented folks have the same reaction to Kavanaugh as they did to Ford. That is, great sympathy.

On the other hand, group-oriented observers saw Kavanaugh as an envoy of the dreaded white patriarchy, and took his anger not as an understandable response to being accused of awful crimes, but, instead, merely the entitled rantings of a man-child terrified of the possibility of his group at long last losing its power.

For conservatives, individual trumps group. For progressives, group trumps the individual — and, most critically, the concept of group guilt is implicitly but powerfully accepted. That makes it easy to scoff at ideas like the presumption of innocence, because, to them, Kavanaugh is already terminally infected with the residual guilt that emanates from his group memberships.

Note also that these group associations are so strong for progressives that they can actually defy objective fact. For example, if there is a contextually negative association with “old, white man,” someone who is a middle-aged Hispanic man can become “old” and “white” if progressives deem him worthy of condemnation.

This, again, is something more than a simple assessment of the state of a glass of water.

Proceeding from such a fundamentally different premise about whether group membership or the individual matters more makes it impossible to find common ground in a situation like this one. That’s because we’re left with a binary choice: Either you believe Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted someone, or you don’t.

If one side is convinced he did, based on negative group characteristics they ascribe to him, then there is nothing that can be done.

It will be difficult to prove what happened on an undetermined night in the summer of 1982. It will be impossible to prove that Kavanaugh isn’t a wealthy, white male.

As such, many of the people observing this story on both sides have already made up their minds. It is incredibly unlikely the FBI investigation will produce any new evidence, which is what it would take for an individual-focused person to believe Kavanaugh is guilty of sexual assault. That lack of additional evidence won’t matter to group-focused observers who have already mentally convicted him—and who never would have supported him in the first place. For them, his characteristics, coupled with Ford’s testimony, easily overcome the problem of lack of corroborating or substantiating evidence.

As for the two movies we’re watching on a single screen, Adams says that the way to merge our realities again is that “one [side] needs to see [its] expectations violated in ways that even cognitive dissonance can’t explain away.”

Sadly, we’ll have to look elsewhere for that violation. To those who think Kavanaugh is a sexual predator (and will happily repeat that as fact for the rest of his life), there is nothing that could possibly happen now to cut against their expectations in such a way as to make them reverse their position. Even a hypothetical situation in which Ford completely recanted her story would simply shift the narrative to “she was intimidated into doing so.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation, then, has become a societal proxy war for progressives. Kavanaugh is emblematic of the evil they see in certain segments of our culture. And our competing ways of ordering our reality will ensure it isn’t the last such battle.

There are 36 comments.

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  1. Chris Member
    Chris
    @Chris

    Tom Garrett:

    In sum, Kavanaugh critics believe that society is full of “Brett Kavanaughs,” that they knew people like him in high school or college, and/or that they’ve worked with people like him. They transfer all of those negative beliefs, feelings, and experiences to Kavanaugh himself, making it easy to say, “Of course he did this—this is how privileged, rich, white males who attended elite prep schools act. You know how they are.”

    Heck, even some of his supporters are – as my kids would say – roasting him for his background.  Not sure which episode, but a recent Daily Standard had Charlie and his guest say that the local public schools were fine and Kavanaugh’s parents were just buying privilege.

    edit:  realized I had written private schools, not public.  Apologies.

    • #1
  2. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Would that it would occur to people that the actual privileged politicians are the Harvard/Yale graduates we so often elect to rule over us. 

    • #2
  3. Lumimies Member
    Lumimies
    @Lumimies

    Please like this post. It needs to go on the Main Feed ASAP.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Tom Garrett:

    Author and cartoonist Scott Adams colorfully describes one of the lamentable features of our current society as “two movies, one screen.”

    Superbly prhased.

    The concept is that our reality has, for practical purposes, split into two. Everyone has access to the same information, but we divide into two groups, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually-exclusive of the other.

    But isn’t the screen the reality, and the movies just our interpretations of it?

    Or is that why you mentioned “practical purposes”?  Practically speaking, it is as if reality has been cloven in twain, although in reality it has not.

    Or maybe our interpretations of reality are themselves, for practical purposes, like reality itself.

    If a philosopher says that there is a “practical character of reality,” does it mean that our interpretations rise to the level of reality, or that reality condescends to the level of our interactions with it, or that there was never really a distinction between reality and interpretation to begin with?

    Dude, I’m too tired to do metaphysics right now!

    • #4
  5. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Well done, @tomgarrett!

    Reading those media headlines lend credence to the view of the press as enemies of the people…certainly to entitled white males and anyone who would dare say otherwise.

    In a very real sense Brett Kavanaugh in his opening statement Sept 27 put the Democrats, and the groups who affiliate with what Dems are doing, on trial.  I think they felt convicted by his words delivered with a ring of truth.  For brief minutes, Kavanaugh, with the microphone and the nation’s attention, violated their expectations of him by defending his honor.

    Yes, there’s a political agenda to keep another Constitutional originalist off the SCOTUS.  As of 9/27, there’s more need than ever to make Judge Kavanaugh a liar because if he’s not, Dems and their affiliated groups are.

    • #5
  6. NHPat Inactive
    NHPat
    @NHPat

    TBA (View Comment):
    Would that it would occur to people that the actual privileged politicians are the Harvard/Yale graduates we so often elect to rule over us. 

    And that says it all, doesn’t it?  Because they aren’t supposed to “rule over us” – they are supposed to represent us.  But you’re right, more and more they do indeed rule over us and the result is plain to see, and very, very ugly.

    • #6
  7. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    Excellent post, clearly laying out the problem, and the provided links cement it all together.

    I don’t see how this all ends well.  Barring some outside force uniting us, the divide we see today seems too great to ever overcome.

    • #7
  8. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    “Two movies, one screen”…in the movie Gettysburg, a visiting British officers muses that the two sides have a common history…”a common history, but different dreams.”

    • #8
  9. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    The “two movies” metaphor is helpful to understanding the viewpoints, but the reason for the two movies is not so benign.  

    It is not just happenstance that there are two movies.  There are two movies because the federal government has too much power and in the drive for controlling that power we have had to divide into two competing camps.  If one side loses on any little issue, they stand a greater risk of losing on every issue.  In order to protect themselves, each faction has to make every issue appear to be a matter of life and death.

    But this is not to say that both factions are equally moral.  The democrat party has gone the route of socialism and communism, and have for quite some time and have only recently found it permissible to drop the mask.

    It is not true that both movies are legitimate. There are two movies, but the democrat movie is evil and wants to enslave us and make us vulnerable to foreign influences that do not have our interests at heart.   The republican drive for power over us is just as real, but they benefit from being on the other side of the democrat evil which is far worse.

     

    • #9
  10. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    This is one of the most thoughtful posts I’ve ever seen.  Thanks!

    • #10
  11. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Curt North (View Comment):

    Excellent post, clearly layig out the problem, and the provided links cement it all together.

    I don’t see how this all ends well. Barring some outside force uniting us, the divide we see today seems too great to ever overcome.

    I don’t see how this ends at all. Even dividing into two nations wouldn’t work because there’s nothing geographic about our divisions. 

    • #11
  12. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    TBA: Would that it would occur to people that the actual privileged politicians are the Harvard/Yale graduates we so often elect to rule over us.

    Which is a recent trend. From the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 to Inauguration Day 1989, we elected exactly one Ivy League president in John F. Kennedy (Harvard ‘40). Gerald Ford went to Yale Law but, of course, was never elected outside of Grand Rapids, MI. 

    Since then it’s been one Ivy Leaguer after another, including Donald J. Trump. (The Wharton School is run by The University of Pennsylvania.)

     

    • #12
  13. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    An outstanding analysis. Thank you. Would that it could reach an audience far beyond Ricochet. 

    • #13
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Combine this chasm between perceptions of basic realities and facts with the undermining of democratic legitimacy and you get a recipe for civil war… not just in America, but throughout the West.

    • #14
  15. Higgs Boson Inactive
    Higgs Boson
    @HiggsBoson

    Thanks for the brilliant post.

    • #15
  16. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Garrett: The concept is that our reality has, for practical purposes, split into two. Everyone has access to the same information, but we divide into two groups, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other.

    Much (most?) of the data suggests that this interpretation is largely overwrought hyperbole.  The political class is split in two, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other, but evidence that the phenomenon extends to the American public in general is excruciatingly thin.

    To cite just one example …

    “To understand contemporary American political life, you should begin with the realization that most of the people blabbering on cable television, venting on Facebook, and/or fulminating on Twitter are abnormal. They are abnormally interested and involved in politics, they tend to occupy the policy extremes, and they are abnormally opinionated… Consider some numbers. As of today, there are about 235 million eligible voters in the United States. About one percent of them subscribe to either The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Liberals rail against Fox News and conservatives against MSNBC; they should take consolation in the fact that the Fox viewing audience is about one percent of the eligible electorate while news shows on MSNBC fall short of that. Sean Hannity’s is the highest-rated political show on cable television with an audience of about 1.5 percent of the eligible electorate. On the other end of the spectrum Rachel Maddow gets a bit over one percent. Anderson Cooper 360 draws in a paltry 0.4 of one percent. Granted, these small audiences may spread the word to some non-subscribers and non-viewers, but even taking such second-order effects into account, the simple fact is that the ranks of the politically interested are surprisingly thin.”

    – Political scientist Morris Fiorina

    http://reason.com/volokh/2018/10/01/no-were-not-on-the-brink-of-civil-war-bu

    • #16
  17. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    The political class is split in two, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other, but the phenomenon does not extend to the American public in general.

    I guess the everyday liberals I know are part of the political class, although they’re lawyers, doctors, nurses, musicians, teachers, librarians, etc. Because they are completely sold on the left’s agenda and are quite vocal about it and their disdain for conservatives.

    • #17
  18. prairiedoc Member
    prairiedoc
    @prairiedoc

    Well stated post!  Clearly this is a power struggle between the Left and Conservatism.  There is way too much power in the hands of the Federal Government, too many employees on federal payrolls, too much money flowing through Washington.  In addition, Congress has abdicated it power to the Judiciary and the Executive.  When searching for solutions, a return to constitutional Federalism seems the only hope.  Not sure that’s possible without some calamity.

     

    • #18
  19. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge
    Jeff Hawkins
    @JeffHawkins

    It’s always amazing to me that projecting hatred of white, prep school, wealthy kids into the kind of people who would “do these kinds of things” is okay, but other forms of profiling are unfair

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    The political class is split in two, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other, but the phenomenon does not extend to the American public in general.

    I guess the everyday liberals I know are part of the political class, although they’re lawyers, doctors, nurses, musicians, teachers, librarians, etc. Because they are completely sold on the left’s agenda and are quite vocal about it and their disdain for conservatives.

    Yes, I would most definitely categorize lawyers, doctors, nurses, musicians, teachers, and librarians as members of the political class.  They like to think of themselves are “everyday people”, but the reality is that they are statistical outliers of the US population.

    • #20
  21. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Great post. And yes, the Kavanaugh/Ford debacle provides an interesting view into the inner workings of conflicting worldviews.

    There’s another factor, with I think two distinct ramifications, that contributes to what I agree is an unbridgeable divide. The factor is the discounting of traditional norms and standards in which the left engages, by virtue of the nature of progressivism and its implicit rejection of the status quo. (That is, after all, the fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives.)

    That expresses itself in two ways. First, the left is more inclined to change the rules — for example, of evidence and presumption — when required to achieve a particular end. So they are more comfortable using such subjective measures as “credibility” when it suits them, rather than requiring actual evidence. (This is situational: I can’t count the number of times progressives have demanded that I “produce evidence” to support even a casual argument, when doing so worked in their favor.)

    Secondly, I’ve heard it suggested more than once that Kavanaugh isn’t really “harmed” by a confirmation failure; no one has a “right,” after all, to sit on the Supreme Court, so it’s not like this actually hurts him. That seems preposterous to me, but it’s possible that the destruction of a man’s reputation doesn’t carry much weight with the left, since — in this case at least — the “reputation” is a measure of compliance with high social standards of personal conduct. If you reject social standards in general, considering them part of an arbitrary and incidental status quo, then perhaps destroying a reputation founded on those standards seems minor and excusable.

    • #21
  22. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    This is an outstanding post.  I have one significant correction to recommend.

    Do not accept the Left’s use of the word “progressive” for themselves.  This is a shockingly propagandistic term.  Reject it at ever turn.

    You cannot use “liberal” either, because they are not consistently in favor of liberty.

    We do struggle to find a proper term.  I recommend generally using “Left” and “Leftist,” which are at least reasonably neutral.  Given your argument, “Collectivist” might be a helpful term.

    • #22
  23. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    This is an outstanding post. I have one significant correction to recommend.

    Do not accept the Left’s use of the word “progressive” for themselves. This is a shockingly propagandistic term. Reject it at ever turn.

    You cannot use “liberal” either, because they are not consistently in favor of liberty.

    We do struggle to find a proper term. I recommend generally using “Left” and “Leftist,” which are at least reasonably neutral. Given your argument, “Collectivist” might be a helpful term.

    While I tire of the terminology disputes and tend to use “liberal,” “leftist,” and “progressive” interchangeably, being more interested in being understood than in trying to restore some kind of lost lexical purity, I do get your point.

    I think the terms that actually best capture the fundamental differences are “conservatives” and “radicals”: those who want to preserve what is, and those who want to change what is. Maybe I’ll switch to those.

     

    • #23
  24. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    This is an outstanding post. I have one significant correction to recommend.

    Do not accept the Left’s use of the word “progressive” for themselves. This is a shockingly propagandistic term. Reject it at ever turn.

    You cannot use “liberal” either, because they are not consistently in favor of liberty.

    We do struggle to find a proper term. I recommend generally using “Left” and “Leftist,” which are at least reasonably neutral. Given your argument, “Collectivist” might be a helpful term.

    While I tire of the terminology disputes and tend to use “liberal,” “leftist,” and “progressive” interchangeably, being more interested in being understood than in trying to restore some kind of lost lexical purity, I do get your point.

    I think the terms that actually best capture the fundamental differences are “conservatives” and “radicals”: those who want to preserve what is, and those who want to change what is. Maybe I’ll switch to those.

    Or it could be that one side is particular while the other side only knows that they oppose that particularity. In conversations about defining conservatism I’ve argued exactly that: conservatism is primarily a rejection of both collectivism and radical individualism  (anarchy). In this case of wondering what to call leftists I think we do have some accurate and understandable terms: indentitarian, globalist. None are perfect or all encompassing, but I think they are remarkably descriptive.

    • #24
  25. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Do not accept the Left’s use of the word “progressive” for themselves. This is a shockingly propagandistic term. Reject it at ever turn.

    You cannot use “liberal” either, because they are not consistently in favor of liberty.

    I won’t use “liberal” for Democrats. Leftists or hippies is usually how I refer to them — the latter beimg particularly apt because of their willful fantasies and false kumbaya proclamations. 

    But “progressive” works because it hits on their fundamental belief that human nature is mutable and humanity is progressing toward a world of peace. The tragic view of humanity — that Man is fallen and social challenges are timeless, without final solutions — is a cornerstone of conservatism.

    • #25
  26. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I think the terms that actually best capture the fundamental differences are “conservatives” and “radicals”: those who want to preserve what is, and those who want to change what is.

    I strongly disagree with these definitions. Conservatism is not about maintaining the status quo. It is about self-rule under a system of ordered liberty. It is a belief in the sovereignty of the people and the separation of powers. Trump’s election was decidedly not in service to the status quo established by the Left over many decades. Just the opposite. Conservatives want to overturn the status quo to more closely approach the liberty promised by the Founders. 

    Leftists are promoting ideas as old as the Exodus, in which the people freed from slavery wished to return to the flesh pots of Egypt. As old as Samuel, in which the Hebrews clamored for a king (Barack Obama). 

    It’s not about who’s for or against change. It’s about what change is being promoted.

    • #26
  27. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Western Chauvinist  

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I think the terms that actually best capture the fundamental differences are “conservatives” and “radicals”: those who want to preserve what is, and those who want to change what is.

    I strongly disagree with these definitions. Conservatism is not about maintaining the status quo. It is about self-rule under a system of ordered liberty.

    I’d say it is about maintaining a system of ordered liberty.  It’s about preserving what is good, and seeking to make better wherever possible — recognizing that preserving the good is most important, as what is lost is difficult tor regain.

    It’s not just what we want to change, but how we approach change.  

    It’s also about recognizing that “what is” may serve purposes we do not understand, and that changing it will have unintended consequences — that was one of Edmund Burke’s points.  This is especially true of things that have been around for many years, but applies to anything that has taken root in society.  That does not mean we don’t reform, it means we approach it differently. We recognize that we cannot simply reshape society as we wish.  Conservatives recognize that some things we disagree with and recognize how deeply they’ve become interwoven into our society, and recognize that we must meet our country where it is at the moment.  That’s why no actual conservative talks about ending Social Security overnight, for instance.  I think liberals genuinely don’t understand this, because they don’t think that way. Radicals eagerly uproot and alter the most central pillars of society, and the disruption this causes to people’s lives does not much matter to them. 

     

     

    • #27
  28. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    I strongly disagree with these definitions. Conservatism is not about maintaining the status quo.

    I’ve never seen a definition of “conservatism” that makes any sense in our current political climate, or for most of my life.  Some people define it to be almost libertarian in its free market principles, others insist on rugged individualism, others ascribe a theocratic flavor.  

    So far, all I can tell is that Republicans are the party against the communist/socialists of the democrat party, and not for anything else in particular and the party isn’t much in favor of rugged individualism, free markets, or anything except seeking their own power.  

    Conservative philosophy is so undefined and unhelpful as a term that I try not to even use it.  I just like to focus on stopping the communist/socialists in our midst who no longer even bother to mask their labels or their evil.

    • #28
  29. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Leigh (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Western Chauvinist

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I think the terms that actually best capture the fundamental differences are “conservatives” and “radicals”: those who want to preserve what is, and those who want to change what is.

    I strongly disagree with these definitions. Conservatism is not about maintaining the status quo. It is about self-rule under a system of ordered liberty.

    I’d say it is about maintaining a system of ordered liberty. It’s about preserving what is good, and seeking to make better wherever possible — recognizing that preserving the good is most important, as what is lost is difficult tor regain.

    You’re both wrong.

    Okay, in fairness, we’re simply using the words differently — that is, thinking about different aspects of “conservative” and “radical.” I am using the words in a value-neutral way, as descriptors of how we approach change. In that sense, “conservatives” are people who tend to resist change in favor of traditional patterns of behavior; “radicals” are people who pursue change and place little value on traditional norms.

    In America, conservatives are the ones in favor of “self-rule under a system of ordered liberty,” because that is our tradition. In other places, conservatives — in the sense I’m using the word — may be in favor of very different things, since the traditions in those places may, for example, be hostile to self-rule and liberty.

    Thinking of conservative and radical in this way helps me to avoid thinking ill of people who simply don’t value the things I value. I may still think they are ignorant, that they expect unrealistic things from the policies they espouse. But it allows me to more easily think that they’re probably not evil. It also helps me to defend my innate conservatism without feeling that it’s necessary to intellectually defend every single aspect of our culture, some of which undoubtedly should change (albeit slowly).

     

    • #29
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    The political class is split in two, each coming to believe in a version of reality that is mutually exclusive of the other, but the phenomenon does not extend to the American public in general.

    I guess the everyday liberals I know are part of the political class, although they’re lawyers, doctors, nurses, musicians, teachers, librarians, etc. Because they are completely sold on the left’s agenda and are quite vocal about it and their disdain for conservatives.

    Yes, I would most definitely categorize lawyers, doctors, nurses, musicians, teachers, and librarians as members of the political class. They like to think of themselves are “everyday people”, but the reality is that they are statistical outliers of the US population.

    These careers tend to produce people with considerable self-regard and elitist views. 

    • #30

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