Monday, February 18, 2008

Beliefs and Religion Politics

I'm often accused, by progressives, of believing things and wanting things that I don't because I identify myself as a conservative.

I've always thought that this was just simple predjudice, but it occurs to me that there's something more to it than that.

This thought process goes back to the "George Bush can just drop dead" BDS vomit that I experienced a few weeks ago. It also goes to the "that's the base" comment a relative made when he stated that the Republican base is the racist bigots who don't want Mexicans in their town because they have brown skin.

It gets to this: it's the idea that "if you identify yourself as a conservative, you must believe X or Y." And the progressive will insert some unflattering generalization in place of X or Y. Like you don't care about black people, or poor people, or you're a fundamentalist, intolerant bible-thumper who hates gays, or war monger, or anti-environment or any number of the usual littany of mischaracterizations of the motives behind conservative thought.

Obviously, this broad-brush treatment goes both ways, at times. But I think far less often coming from conservatives than from progressives, or at the very least to lesser extremes. And I got to thinking... why is this? And I started thinking about the people I know that identify themselves as liberals or progressives looking for a common thread. And the thread seems to be that they are looking for something outside of themselves to believe in (sound familiar?) that they think people will look up to and be impressed. In other words, they try to emulate the thoughts of people they think are thinkers. Cutting edge. Ahead of the curve. "Progressive," as another relative once proudly said with an affirmative head-bob. But scratch the surface on most of them and there's nothing underneath the parrotted opinions. They're used to spouting them off -- and other people around them who are like-"thinkers" give them the "oh, yes", "mmm-mmm".... and people like me are too polite to start an argument over it so they get the false impression that everyone's impressed or at the very least that nobody disagrees.

The deal is, a lot of people believe what they believe because that's what they think they're supposed to believe -- not because they've put any thought in to it. But because they heard it from someone they thought to be a guru or visionary. In other words, they believe what they believe because they identify themselves (cultural signification again) -- as progressives. They believe what they believe because that's what Progressives are supposed to believe. This isn't all of them, by any means. But it includes your progressive "swing" voters. And most of your progressive college kids and indoctrinated middle & high school kids.

And then there is some projection going on here. They figure you believe what you believe because you are a conservative. It's a natural extension of where they're coming from. But conservatives aren't typically conservative as a fashion statement.

Conservative is just the category I happen to best fit. I identify myself as a conservative because of what I believe, I don't believe what I believe because I'm a conservative.

In the end, we're all round pegs and these categories are square holes. But I think there are a lot of people who identify themselves as progressives that are actively trying to fit in that square hole, whereas most conservatives just congregate around the square hole of conservatism and say -- well, this would be the closest fit, but I ain't changin' to try to force myself in.

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