Know your enemy

Conservatives have an advantage. We are submerged in a sea of liberalism at university and can read the MSM when we need a refresher. Conservatives know what liberals are like and we know the weak spots. When I discuss issues with liberal friends (and I have many), I know to wait for them to play their trump card. It usually starts with something like “what about blacks, gays, poor people etc.” They are surprised when this doesn’t intimidate me into silence or throw me into a rage. This is what happens on TV, after all. I count to five and then explain why I don’t agree. When I am done, they often say something like, “you are not a typical conservative.”

Actually, I am. The only difference is that I enjoy the debate more than most.

I had an interesting experience last year during a sabbatical at a New England grad-school. As part of an academic exercise, we divided into groups to argue pro of con of U.S. position on the environment. My group got "pro". The normally competitive students threw up their hands and complained that they couldn't possibly defend the Bush policies. Mind you, some of these guys will be lawyers who will cheerfully defend murderers on the grounds that everyone deserves a competent defense. I took the task on myself and we won on points. My colleagues on the winning side were none too satisfied, but they allowed that it had never occurred to them that anyone could vigorously, logically and successfully defend the President's positions. Of course, they said, "You are not a typical conservative."

Actually, I am but I am old enough not to be afraid to cross a professor. No, you don't know me and liberals don't know conservatives.

I saw Jeannine Garofalo on "Now" with Bill Moyers. I am paraphrasing here, but she more or less said that anyone who was properly informed could not be a conservative. I know she is an extreme case, but I suspect many liberals share her opinion on this issue.

Some conservatives are smart, some not. Some conservatives are well informed, others less so. This is the same for liberals. It is possible for an intelligent, well-informed person without any particular self-interest to believe that conservative ideas are the best for the United States and the world.

If you don't believe this, it is your misfortune and it may be why you are surprised by the results of American elections.

In one important way, I believe I differ from my conservative colleagues and all partisans, liberal and conservative. I believe in balance and I believe there is a place for liberal ideas. I will never support them and I can only vaguely understand why you support them, but I recognize that there are important limits to my own perceptions.

The Republicans are in the process of dominating American politics. While the overall direction pleases me, I do believe we need to have some rational liberal leavening in the conservative mix. Until you all acknowledge your frame blindness, you cannot contribute any more than negation.

I respect your opinions and recognize that I will not be able to convert most of you to my conservative point of view. I suspect that many of you believe that if I just had more information and understanding, I would come around to liberalism. What do I say to that? When hell freezes over, we will continue the struggle on the surface of the ice. I will be as I have been and that is conservative. That should make you happy, as it does for me to know that there remain some incorrigible liberals. I am usually right, but not always, so I need some constructive opposition. The same goes for everyone.

Posted by Jack at May 29, 2005 10:37 PM | TrackBack (1)