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Tuesday, June 8, 2010
How Conservatives Think (~part 2)
Before I argued that Liberals form their positions based on evidence, while Conservative form their positions and then evaluate any and all evidence accordingly. I still stand by that, but it's not really the ROOT of the problem. Nor is it really the difference in how Conservatives and Liberals think, at their cores. The biggest difference between is that Liberals have no sacred, dogmatic assumptions.
Conservatives go into every debate, and try to solve every problem, starting out with a sacred set of assumption. Tenets that they believe to be both sacred and self evident and that they simply CAN'T examine, or challenged in ANY WAY. These are things like...
1) Raising Taxes is always bad, lowering taxes is always good.
2) Increase [non-Defense] Spending and/or "Growing the Government" is always bad.
3) Christianity is always good, and can do no wrong, on the virtue of its Christianity.
4) America is always good, and can do no wrong, on the virtue of its being American.
This list is hardly exhaustive, but I think you get the idea. And the Conservative would likely look at that list and say, "Yeah, so? What's wrong with that?"
The then go on to ASSUME that the Liberal position MUST THEREFORE be the opposite. That...
1) Liberals want to raise taxes.
2) Liberals want to grow the Government
3) Liberals hate Christianity
4) Liberals hate America
The problem here, and where the conservative errs is that it's not the overall sentiment of the statement that we necessary disagree on: It's the "ALWAYS" part. It's in the assumption that these tenets can NEVER be challenged and NEVER be violated no matter what the situation or problem might call for! This is evidence of the "black and white" thinking that they engage in. They decide something is either ALL GOOD or ALL BAD and then never question or examine that assumption.
To the liberal, there ARE NO "sacred, dogmatic assumptions." The Liberal knows that just about EVERYTHING is both good AND bad. EVEYTHING has positives and negatives. NOTHING is black OR white. Some things are pretty dark grey, and somethings are a damned light shade of eggshell, but nothing is INHERENTLY good or bad to a liberal. Everything, every possible solution to a problem, is always on the table.
That's why (as I've been trying to hammer into Floyd's think, empty head these past couple days over on MMFA) Liberals, right or wrong, cannot be called "sheep." (Or "sheeple" as he tried tried to call [just] me, even though that would be plural.) We can be WRONG: I've disagreed with other Liberals right here on this very blog! And if two Liberals disagree, which happens ALL THE TIME, at least ONE of them has to be wrong! (OK, yeah, I know: not necessarily. Just think like a conservative for a moment.) So we can be WRONG. But in being wrong, we cannot be SHEEP. Because we don't follow a prescribed dogma. If someone were to ask me for something all liberals believe, I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to tell them, other than, "Make no assumptions, nothing is above examination or questions." There simply IS no other set of assumptions that a Liberal uses when forming his position. Evidence of this is the fact that Republicans almost alwasy vote in lockstep with each other, while the Democrats can't even order lunch without it looking like an excersise in herding cats. So who's the sheep? The ones who are always unified or the ones who are always bickering?
And THAT'S really where I think we need to attack the conservative mindset and where I think we might actually (eventually) WIN. Because you're not going to change WHAT people think very easily right now. They're just too misinformed, and too locked into their dogmatic world view. But if you can change HOW they think - IOW: If you can get them to ACTUALLY think; to throw away their sacred dogmatic assumptions, to throw away the "black or white" view of the world, and get them to recognize that EVERYTHING has positives and negatives and that where the REAL debate is is over how we PRORITIZE our judgments, how we VALUE the various positive and negatives... If you can get them to do that... Shit, you've turned them into a liberal, right then and there, even if they don't even change their position!
And THAT is how I wish we were debating - not form the point of view of assuming mutually exclusive, binding assumptions - they way THEY want to argue, but from an AGREED upon set of FACTS - that tall tings have positive and negatice - and from the POV of prioritizing our various agendas and issues. If we could do THAT, then progress will be made. Because once people start question that which they used to take as sacred, it is inevitable that SOME of their positions - which were based upon little other than these sacred dogmatic assumptions - will start to change as well.
As I said in my previous post, WHAT they think is not nearly as frustrating or as damaging as HOW they think. (Or really... the fact that they DON'T.)