Conversations with Conservatives: Lies We Tell About Ourselves & Others

  1. I was eating at a place that has communal seating. An older white man, mid-70s I’d guess, declares himself a conservative, and later, within the context of another table with, presumably, fellow conservatives says, lightly paraphrased: “Women would rather not work. The only reason they do so is because of economic necessity.”
  2. An older white man, mid-60s I’d guess, starts up a friendly conversation in small town America and quickly turns the conversation to how great a job President Trump is doing. My lack of enthusiasm makes it clear I don’t share his point of view. In a subsequent conversation, he claims he can walk six miles in an hour. As a runner, six miles an hour is a 10 minute per mile pace, which I do on my easy running days. While I’ve heard that there are Olympic race walkers that can do a mile in six minutes, I think there is no chance that this man can walk that fast. I say so. He doubles down and assures me he can do it, and would I like to join him? I tell him if I were to do so, I’d need to run.

These two exchanges got me thinking about the stories we tell ourselves. Does Conservative 1 not have any female family or friends that could let him know that economic independence is an important precondition for many kinds of self-actualization, which is just as important to women as to men?

Conservative 2 raises a more interesting question. Is he making this kind of out-sized claim about his ability because he is insecure? Or, do these kinds of lies serve a signaling function? By pretending that I’m impressed and taking this claim at face value, am I letting him know that I value our relationship over some kind of “objective truth”, which signals that I am part of his political tribe? By not doing it, am I signaling the opposite? Was this the point of this obvious, white lie?

And, is this also going on in the first example? Maybe the point of claiming that women don’t want to work is to shore up the rationalization of patriarchy among conservative men and to form them into a tribe of shared interests? The reality may be besides the point.

Extend this out far enough, and it starts looking like a feature of our times: left, right and center. Aren’t antifa leftists, liberal Democrats, and pretty much everyone else with a political viewpoint basically trying to signal that they buy into a particular narrative? And don’t all of these narratives have winners and losers, with the losers being some kind of Other to the tribe with that particular set of beliefs?

My Affair With the Intellectual Dark Web – Great Escape – Medium

“If the idea is that I piss people off by being disloyal to my likely tribes, well, I don’t think that makes me unusual. I think it just makes me a good intellectual.”

—Alice Dreger quoted in Meghan Daum. “My Affair With the Intellectual Dark Web.” Medium. August 24, 2018.

Easy test to see if you (or others) are thinking for yourself is whether your ideas easily conform to a political orthodoxy.

The Daum article is interesting throughout.

Michael Cohen’s GoFundMe: Why Liberals are Giving to Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and Peter Strzok – Vox

“The success of crowdfunding campaigns for anti-Trump figures — even Cohen — seems to be yet another manifestation of the progressive enthusiasm that’s showing up elsewhere. People are angry, upset, and ready to go, and it’s an outlet for them to do something. After Sen. John McCain’s death, one person donated $20 to Cohen’s fund in his name.

‘What it looks like to me is that progressives in particular are engaging in any way you can think of, money being a big one,’ Thomas, from Crowdpac, said.”

—Emily Stewart. “Michael Cohen’s GoFundMe: why liberals are giving to Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and Peter Strzok.” Vox. August 27, 2018.

After reading this article, one has to wonder how contributing to Micheal Cohen’s legal defense fund constitutes a “progressive” outlet for action. Is there not a more worthy cause to contribute your money to than Micheal Cohen’s legal defense fund?

This is just the most recent example where a thinking person has to step back and look at the two party system with its constituent factions and wonder, “What is going on here?”

Progressives, liberals, evangelicals, and Tea Party conservatives are consumed by agendas that are oxymoronic. The classic example: You can have small government. You can have a global war-fighting capability. But, you cannot have both. Modern conservativism pretends you can.

And, it’s not just conservatism. Progressives want government to foster change. But, the more power government has the more attractive it becomes for capture by corporate interests, which uses the government’s power to reenforce the status quo.

Progress, assuming it is possible at all, isn’t driven by the federal government. Exhibit A: alcohol and drug prohibition that was advocated by progressives became tools that turned into the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. In the long run, government power is used to promote elite interests and not any kind of “progress.”

Add in:

  • Free market fundamentalists who believe the free market is the solution to every problem, and neither know of or care about the horrors of the factory systems then and now.
  • Liberal identity politics whose big idea is to put women and people of color in positions of power and maintain the status quo by reigning in the worst abuses.
  • Evangelical literalists that want to return to the social relations of pastoral and agricultural societies while living in an industrialized one.
  • The anything for a Buck crowd that are in it just for the money and influence, i.e., most politicians, regardless of party.

When you look at this dumpster fire, with whom do you wish to associate? Democrat or Republican? Liberal or conservative? The only reasonable answer is none of the above.

I’ll cast my vote for the least worst candidate. But, don’t expect me to pretend to care or believe that it makes much difference.