Thank you for ignoring my heresy

A post linked by Glenn Reynolds yesterday (about Barry Goldwater's revenge) reminded me of an excellent observation which bears rerepeating:

"I became a conservative by being around liberals, and I became a libertarian by being around conservatives."
That was Greg Gutfeld, in a hilarious ReasonTV interview.

My experience was somewhat different. I became a libertarian by being around liberals, and I remained a libertarian by being around conservatives. In general, though, while I prefer hanging around conservatives to hanging around liberals, sometimes hot-button cultural issues will surface, and because I don't conform to the usual stereotypes, people misread me. Liberals assume I'm like them, and conservatives assume I'm like them. I probably put out the "wrong" signals, all the time, without meaning it. Liberals will assume I couldn't possibly be a life member of the NRA, and social conservatives will assume I'm a Rush Limbaugh fan who must take a dim view of homos. But in general, though, conservatives are more welcoming of political differences than liberals. If you say something a conservative disagrees with, he's not as get likely to get angry or turn pale like a seminary student who just met an admitted Satanist.

Ann Althouse put it well a few years ago:

the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side.
To which a commenter added,
the Right is looking for converts and the Left is looking for heretics.
John Hawkins weighed in, and cited Charles Krauthammer's fundamental law:
Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
Actually, under Bush that rule became a bit fuzzier, because under the new liberal meme we had a conservative president who was both very stupid and very evil. A guy who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time, yet who managed to plant explosive timers inside the World Trade Center just before having fake planes pretend to fly into the buildings -- while alerting the Jews not to go to work. Amazingly (and despite a plethora of government whistleblowers), that stupid evil genius never got caught!

It was a little tough living through the Bushitler years, but I made it, and I voted for the evil stupid one twice -- all the while still managing to consider myself a libertarian. Plus, I voted for McCain, and considered myself a libertarian through that. While I like conservatives, and agree with them on many if not most things, I have stubborn little philosophical differences with certain aspects of the conservative philosophy, and I just don't want to be in bed with people like Ann Coulter and Michael Savage. Red meat culture war conservatism just plain turns me off. Plus, I don't think it's likely to remove Barack Obama from office.

However, the fact remains that I have more in common with red meat conservatives than I do the liberals. They're also more likely to ignore my heresy.

posted by Eric on 07.02.09 at 10:42 AM


Here's the way it really works.

Liberals think poor people are stupid and need social workers to guide them to work.

Conservatives think poor people are lazy and need slavedrivers to force them to work.

chocolatier   ·  July 2, 2009 12:09 PM

It's been my experience that very few liberals (at least of the "yeah, let's talk politics!" crowd) know very much about economics, or even about comparative political philosophies.

If/when I enter into political discussion with such a liberal, talk invariably turns to economics, or at least to the systemic, downstream effects of actions taken today for results tomorrow but in ignorance of the longer-term consequences. It turns that way because I steer it that way, because, for me, the act of consideration of the complete set of economic and social downstream effects of any governing act is the sine qua non of competent and effective governing, and liberals are just really, really bad at it.

Point being, though, in a thoughtful discussion of economic or financial policy, most liberals run out of slogans in the first two minutes, and then have nothing to fall back on. Mention velocity of money to a liberal, and she'll probably duck. Mention multiplier effects, or stimulus, and she'll likely take you wrong and she'll either slap you or get very friendly.

All of which leaves them unable, with any amount of credibility, to call you stupid.

So, instead, they'll call you "evil", because that lets them off the hook - they don't need to be able to refute your logic concerning, say, where money ought to go or be left alone, they don't have to understand M1 v M2, and they can comfortably ignore discussion of the beneficial effects of capital growth for those with no capital.

If the argument you oppose is logical, reasonable, and intuitive, still, you can sneer and walk away from it unanswered if you know that it only serves evil, that its root motivation stems from a desire to own slaves, that anyone professing it seeks only to hold on to her ill-gotten blood money in the face of huge and awful need of "the people."

bobby b   ·  July 2, 2009 1:54 PM


Libertarians are like Bhuddists: if you're hungry, get something to eat. If you are stupid or lazy, that may be a more difficult task, but not everyone is suited for success. By the degree to which it is ones choice, one must take responsibility for those choices.

bobby--I agree. When someone wants to engage me in a "political" discussion, one of the first questions I ask them is "where does money come from?" If they can't answer that question, why would I care what their opinion is?

OregonGuy   ·  July 2, 2009 3:55 PM

I've always thought this bloom county cartoon perfectly represented the relationship between conservatives, liberals and libertarians.

Robert   ·  July 3, 2009 12:01 AM

Heresy? The only heresy that frosts my bonnet is when smug self-satisfied elites commit the heresy of claiming scotch is superior to bourbon. For shame!

I'm a conservative because when conservative policies fail, the consequences are short term and correctable. When left-wing policies fail, the consequences are long term and difficult to fix: People die. And that's why I'm a card-carryin' member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Rhodium Heart   ·  July 3, 2009 12:28 AM

Far from an elite here, but a mediocre scotch is superior to a mediocre bourbon! When you get into the better stuff, it gets more difficult to decide. Further tasting is usually required.

Donna B.   ·  July 3, 2009 2:39 AM

Vin Suprynowicz, a libertarian columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal here and also
here, apparently decided that McCain/Palin was the best choice in the last election, in spite of usually going for the Libertarian ticket.

Gringo   ·  July 3, 2009 9:57 AM

I don't like the sweetish taste that bourbon has in comparison to scotch, but I never knew that was a form of elitism -- any more than the fact that I can't stand port wine!

Eric Scheie   ·  July 3, 2009 2:23 PM

Wouldn't mind being in bed with Ann Coulter, at least that way I could get her to shut up a minute.

Sorry, I've been out here in the desert too long.

Billy Oblivion   ·  July 3, 2009 2:37 PM

Bourbon v.s. scotch?

That's like asking Chainsaw v.s. Axe, or Shotgun v.s. SMG. Different tasks, different tools.

When you want to sit peacefully and conteplate a good book with a nice piece of dark chocolate then a good scotch is CLEARLY the choice.

However, if you're going to adulterate...I mean mix anything in with it (ice, water, coke, 7up etc.) then you MUST NOT use a singlemalt, Bourbon, especially the lesser stuff (JD, Jim Beam, Ole Grandad) is particularly well suited to this role.

There are areas of overlap--just as it's a matter of preference (or department policy, but that's a quibble) between a Benelli M4 and a "normal" M4 for the entry guy, so too is it a choice between single cask bourbons and single malts scotches for after dinner drinks or with desert (other than dark chocolates)...

I did mention being out here too long, right?

Billy Oblivion   ·  July 3, 2009 2:46 PM

Poor Billy. I've been trying for years to figure out a way to upload chocolate and booze.

Donna B.   ·  July 3, 2009 2:59 PM
xj   ·  July 4, 2009 4:18 PM

I was a liberal when I mostly read Newsweek and newspapers. I was young. I didn't think, I emoted. I was something between atheist and agnostic.

Later I stumbled across Ann Coulter and Mona Charen and realized I'd been given only half the story my whole life, and it was mostly the wrong half. I was a Protestant.

Finally, I found libertarians on the Internet and quickly realized they were the only logically consistent and empirically supportable of the modern philosophers. I became a libertarian and a Deist.

I expect my next incarnation will involve only caring about what will please my nanobot masters who have rewired my brain to serve them.

TallDave   ·  July 6, 2009 10:50 PM

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