How I (barely) managed to avoid tantrums

I was quite honored to be invited to attend CPAC In Washington as a Pajamas Media blogger, but alas! The timing of my trip prevented me from attending (especially the timing of my return to Michigan, where things had piled up after a three-month absence). It was simply not logistically feasible for me to return home and then immediately leave.

A shame, really, because I am a fervent believer in dialogue, and that includes dialogue with ideologues. CPAC, of course, is not known to suffer from a shortage of conservative ideologues. I'm hardly a conservative ideologue, although my thinking tends to put me more on the conservative than liberal "side." But as I've discussed in countless posts, I have a serious problem with being on "sides," not only because I don't fit neatly, but because once you're identified as being on (or even tilting towards) a side, the louder and shriller voices will inevitably tell you how and what you are to think, and if they think you are wrong, they'll say you belong to (or threaten to relegate you to) "the other side!" To the left, I'm at the very least "politically unreliable," a "conservative," or even a right wing nut. One difference between the right and the left is that the right tends to be much more polite. They'll say the party would be better off without all the "RINOs" but they're not as personally insulting on an individual level, even in the face of strong disagreements.

Still, I have a problem listening to people on either side who are steeped in echo chamber stuff, and when they get together they egg each other on, and if you sit there and say nothing, pretty soon they'll just assume you agree. I find that a pain in the ass, as I don't enjoy arguing with people, but OTOH I don't enjoy listening silently to ideological stuff with which I disagree. It's no more fun hearing someone scream about how Dick Cheney belongs in prison than it is hearing someone scream about how Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Similarly, the anti-white or anti-Israel bigotry on the left is about as fun to listen to as some of the anti-gay or anti-Mexican bigotry on the right.

Glenn Reynolds' link to Rick Moran (who is there at CPAC) made me feel less guilty for not being able to make it to CPAC. Reading Rick's observations, I found myelf oddly reassured that it was probably just as well that I was missing, well, precisely what I suspected I was missing:

...conservatism has gone off the rails, becoming in some respects a parody of itself. A philosophy that is all about honoring and conserving tradition while allowing for change that buttresses and supports important aspects of the past, has been hijacked by ideologues who brook no deviation from a dogma that limits rather than expands human freedom. Conservatism has become loud, obnoxious, closed-minded, and puerile, while its classical tradition of tolerance and hard-headed rationalism has been abandoned in favor of emotional jags and a vicious parochialism that eschews debate for "litmus tests" on ideological purity.
Except I'd never say something like that to their faces. I'd have a silent tantrum, and I'd try to avoid them in the future.

Of course, my throwing a silent tantrum in the privacy of my own home won't stop people who believe in throwing loud ideological tantrums.

Until conservatives can practice some painful introspection, looking with a self-critical eye at the reasons for the debacles of 2006 and 2008, most in the movement will continue to delude themselves that simply reaffirming conservative love of small government, low taxes, and less regulation will be enough to convince a majority of Americans that they recognize their shortcomings and have changed their tune. There must be a reckoning with those who violate the very nature of conservatism by obstinately adhering to exclusionary, anti-intellectual precepts that have thrown classical conservatism over in favor of ranting, ideological tantrums.
Personally, I find it a bit embarrassing to find myself in the same camp with tantrum throwers who think conservatism means combating the evils of homosexuality, marijuana, condoms, pornography, and even the theory of evolution (and that the term "Christian" should be used to describe only fundamentalist Christians.)

It's very convenient that the mainstream media do all they can to promote the definition of conservatism that the tantrum throwers propound.

Almost makes me want to throw a tantrum.

MORE: Rick is of course being savaged in the comments by conservatives, who call his essay an "ideological tantrum," and (by a commenter calling him "call him "Rick Moron") "a fetid rant may serve your apoplectic, race-bating, Bush hating lefties."

Gee, I've been reading Rick a long time and I never knew the apoplectic, race-bating, Bush hating lefties were "his."

Maybe I hould rethink what I said about how conservatives are "not as personally insulting on an individual level..."

posted by Eric on 02.27.09 at 12:48 PM










Comments

"Personally, I find it a bit embarrassing to find myself in the same camp with tantrum throwers who think conservatism means combating the evils of homosexuality, marijuana, condoms, pornography, and even the theory of evolution (and that the term "Christian" should be used to describe only fundamentalist Christians.)"

I agree with you on this. It is what is really wrong with Republicans, and why they will loose elections.

LYNNDH   ·  February 27, 2009 1:01 PM

The problem is that dialogue is not what is taking place, nor is it what those on the outside are encouraging. Too many seek to divide rather than unite.

Those voices are only seeking to encourage continued catfights. They attempt to present each issue solely in terms that can be used as a wedge.

Dialogue rather than being entirely confrontational and argumentative should also be additive. I may not totally agree with anything someone else says. While I should not always expect them to accept my opposition I should expect them to entertain my opinion as something that adds to the dialogue. Ideally we should all strive to add more than subtract or cancel.

We should discuss those issues, and if anything use them as a reason to re-affirm those ideas that ties us together. Chief among these is our rejection of identity politics and our support for personal liberty.

Exactly what are we referring to when we discuss 'the right's' problem with homosexuality? Is it really about private adult consensual behavior, or is it about things like the role of the court system and Federalism? How can this issue be compared and contrasted with religious freedoms? Put in the broader contexts, and strongly tied to our principles we should be able to amicably resolve most issues - but we should also accept that the resolution may not leave everyone pleased. Single issue voters, especially those whose first principles are said issue will always remain thus.

Same goes for marijuana, do we really want to resolve this on temperance lines, or on issues of Liberty and States rights? Teh reality is though that we may never fully eliminate he war on some drugs (anyone want to cook up some ricin?) But again, perhaps we can de-escalate the Federalization of Everything.

Evolution vs. Creationism positively screams 'the danger of Federal control of education.' And, as classical liberals, who are we to say if some local polity wants some particular issue addressed in their schools? Doesn't liberty mean precisely that?

Although not a fundamentalist (lapsed Catholic) I do know many, and most I know do recognize that a powerful state is more of a threat to their own freedoms in the long run and they can easily recognize the dangers posed by the 'true believers' found on the progressive left. This does not mean they will willingly give up their beliefs, but it does make them a natural ally and should mean that, if they wish to participate, they will be willing to at least temper some of their political practices.

Would that we were all willing to do this a little bit in search of some common ground.

Anonymous   ·  February 27, 2009 2:40 PM

Personally I feel no need for a "dialogue" with people who wish to limit my freedom. For such people I just feel contempt.

Bilwick1   ·  February 27, 2009 4:01 PM

The U.S. supports Mexico and Mexicans in a fashion you would never find anywhere else in the world. To call someone bigoted because they have reasons against it or against some of it, is, I think, a problem with being in the middle.

One has to prove they are in the middle by subscribing attributes to the sides that donít necessarily exist.

I am a middle guy and never let someone on a side push me into the middle by having to agree that the other side is bad about something or the other. It takes vigilance because it is a victory for those who try to make you take a middle ground that way instead of dealing with the issue at hand.

Rocky   ·  February 27, 2009 5:17 PM

I've use the phrase "socially liberal and fiscally conservative" to describe myself, but it's not really true anymore.

My social liberalism is more of the classic liberal type, which puts the individual above the state. I certainly not say that I am in any sense a "progressive" which label is poorly assigned.

Is there a party for the reasonably logical and somewhat intelligent person that is not insulting in some way to all humanity?


Donna B.   ·  February 27, 2009 9:35 PM

Although not a fundamentalist (lapsed Catholic) I do know many, and most I know do recognize that a powerful state is more of a threat to their own freedoms in the long run and they can easily recognize the dangers posed by the 'true believers' found on the progressive left.

They tend to only recognize the dangers of a powerful state when it goes against their interests. When it favors their interests they are either silent or give approval.

Abortion is a classic example. They forget that a state strong enough to outlaw abortion is also strong enough to make it mandatory.

There are way too many people on the right and the left who think that putting (government) guns to people's heads can solve any problem.

"We can pass laws" is not just a left wing delusion.

M. Simon   ·  February 28, 2009 3:46 AM

Interesting, I recall the 2006 elected in which Foley (the homosexual who wasn't having sex with interns) was mostly creamed by sexually uptight puritan Democrats.

Then there was the Craig bathroom incidence in which both side piled on the puritanism; were they against gay men having sex in public bathrooms(which is common to the lifestyle) orr because he was Republican who was caught doing the tap dance.

As for the evolution-creationist-fundemental religious debate...well, that's stuck on stupid since Al Gore's Climate Change brigade began shoveling fake science down the school kiddies throats (and I'm suppose to worry that 'creationists' will ruin science..what joke that is)

My proposal would be for moderate-independent-libertarian to go after Democrat for a change because they're completely in charge and are SCREWING EVERYONE OVER.

One more thing, the majority of Catholic voters voted for the candidate more extreme than NARAL so what the hell is your problem? You should be happy.

syn   ·  February 28, 2009 4:38 PM

Rick Moran said that the Iraq war was lost , now he says CPAC is an embarrasment. Embarssment to whom, liberals? CPAC is conservative and enthusiactically so. Are conservatives supposed to creep around and say may we may we and talk about liberty, freedom, capitalism? Conservatives do not need permission to talk about their principals.

Rick Moran also disparages the Tea Party protest, what part of conservativism does his support? Fiscal, social, individualism versus collective?

No, Rick Moran is captured by he Beltway cocktail circuit. He is confused as to what his principals are about.

Anonymous   ·  March 1, 2009 8:19 AM

Rick Moran said that the Iraq war was lost , now he says CPAC is an embarrasment. Embarssment to whom, liberals? CPAC is conservative and enthusiactically so. Are conservatives supposed to creep around and say may we may we and talk about liberty, freedom, capitalism? Conservatives do not need permission to talk about their principals.

Rick Moran also disparages the Tea Party protest, what part of conservativism does his support? Fiscal, social, individualism versus collective?

No, Rick Moran is captured by he Beltway cocktail circuit. He is confused as to what his principals are about.

RAH   ·  March 1, 2009 8:19 AM

the majority of Catholic voters voted for the candidate more extreme than NARAL so what the hell is your problem? You should be happy.

Happy? I'm against abortion (although I oppose imprisoning people for it), and I'm appalled that Catholic voters would be so blind as to vote that way.

CPAC is conservative and enthusiactically so. Are conservatives supposed to creep around and say may we may we and talk about liberty, freedom, capitalism? Conservatives do not need permission to talk about their principals.

Liberty, freedom, and capitalism are principals to which I'm devoted. If that's conservatism, then I'm a conservative. It's the paranoid WorldNetDaily culture war type stuff that turns me off. (I defend their free speech rights, but that doesn't mean I want to be in the audience.)

Eric Scheie   ·  March 1, 2009 9:11 AM

As a pro-life Catholic conservative who has been politically active for more than 20 years,
I have to agree with your assessment Eric. The conservative movement is for all practical purposes, dead.

Mario Mirarchi   ·  March 1, 2009 10:11 AM

Mario,

Not dead. It just hasn't taken enough of a beating yet.

If you consider 2006 the beginning of the beating then consider history, you might come to the conclusion that it will take until 2018 or 2020 for "conservatives" to come back.

Of course if Carter II is President we might wish to revise the timetable some.

M. Simon   ·  March 1, 2009 10:57 AM

GOP is the party of conservatives. We have no other place to go. The liberal left has captured the Democratic Party. The socialist government control of industries of banking, health care, energy, the class envy, soak the rich rhetoric of Obama, the refusal to allow people and business to fail and succeed to their limits. Instead the government will impose the limits.

The proposed sacrifice of rich, wily nilly, whether they chose to sacrifice or not for the blessing of being American. How is that different from sacrificing the virgin for the good of society?

So if you value freedom, the ability to take risks and fail or get hurt without the nanny state stating you may not do so because if you fail you will cost us in health care, the ability to work hard or be lucky and succeed beyond your dreams and enjoy your wealth; you have to join the GOP and make that party to maintain its conservative principles. Because you have no chance with the Democratic Party.

That means that you have to make peace that religious right is part of the GOP and will remain so since their faith and culture is actively under attack by democrats. That the religious faithful have a rock solid principle that life begins at conception and that is it morally wrong to murder that life for convenience sake. If you feel it ok to kill, terminate, murder that fetus, then you have to accept that others donít agree. The religious right makes up more of the GOP electorate than the social liberal, fiscal conservative, and libertarian leaning people. You have to join causes at the basic level of freedom, to let each other have freedom to live life freely without confiscatory taxation, regulatory strangulation, and social redistributions of wealth. Joe the Plumber foresaw the socialism inherent in Obamaís policies and it is coming true.

It is easier to promote tolerance of homosexuality in the GOP than to promote in the Democratic Party, that capitalism and freedom are the engines of prosperity and that government should not have command control of the economy. Democrats want to promote that government can better choose what to do with your health, wealth, property and security than the private person can.

It is not even a choice to sit this out; the stakes for freedom are too large. The Democratic Party and Obama are leading to a major civil disruption when those who refuse to submit fight back. The fast creation of Tea Parties while civil now can lead to major elements of revolt by those who have up this time been the silent majority too busy with working and families to protest.


Also the increasing number of states with 10th amendment resolutions also indicates a very large discontent with the overreach of the federal government. Match that with the massive increase in ammo and gun buying and the elements exist for a major disruption or revolt.

This can be stopped by civil means with the House and Senate recognizing the danger signs and slowing down this determined rush to socialism. But do you think they recognize the danger? I donít. People do not want to revolt but they are being pushed and their backs are against the wall. There is no other country to flee to so we have to join the GOP and push the blue dog Democrats to stop and step back and gain back seats at the federal level. The 2010 elections are just around the corner. If we do not stop this, the inevitable will happen and that will not be pretty.

RAH   ·  March 1, 2009 11:24 AM

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