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Monday, October 17, 2005

Being the reasonable one has its drawbacks

Remember when our suspicions were confirmed about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rove, Rice, Wolfowitz, Bremer, Bolton, Libby, DeLay, Frist. Limbaugh, O’Reilley, Coulter, Robertson, Santorum, Lott [the list goes on ad nauseum]…?

It was a couple of years ago. Researchers at Berkley published a paper entitled Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition*. The paper discussed the results of a study funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institute of Health. Various newspapers reported on the study; various conservative talk-show hosts condemned it.

In short, the study concluded that conservatism is a pathological condition, rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity."

Liberals -- still coming to grips with our conservative-dealt bitch slapping -- enjoyed a brief ‘what’d-I-tell-you’ moment. Feeling vindicated, we nonetheless understood there would be no tangible pay-off (men in white coats would not be showing up at the Rove home, for instance).

The part of the study that interests me for the purpose of this post, however, is what those conclusions imply about liberals.

If the conservative mind is associated with rigidity, then the liberal mind is associated with flexibility. We have a talent for holding in our heads, many – and sometimes opposing – notions. Our more mutable and inquisitive nature is our strength – the engine that drives intellectual evolution. But as is usually the case, strengths are also weaknesses.

"… Liberals might be less intolerant of ambiguity,” authors of the study said, “but they may be less decisive, less committed, less loyal."

This explains why political rallies organized by liberals often feel more like liberal-issues-a-thons, with booths, banners, leaflets and entertainment for every lefty cause ever championed.

A recent anti-war rally – the purpose of which was to protest the American invasion and occupation of Iraq – drew everything from anti animal-cruelty activists to free-Tibet action groups, all with speeches and pamphlets at the ready.

Don’t get me wrong, I tend to support these causes and – like most mentally fluid liberals – can see the interconnectedness of all these issues. But our inability to focus our attention on one thing is paralyzing us. It has the same mind-numbing effect as one of those convoluted flyers you see hanging up on the co-op bulletin board, where every thought the author has about the topic he’s trying to sell is crammed onto one unreadable page. Liberals are the collective human embodiment of the muddy flyer that is so inclusive as to be inscrutable and -- as a result -- un-actionable. It’s bad marketing.

We need to focus and -- if only for the purpose of the immediate campaign – block out the inevitable addendums, postscripts and cross-references that come to mind.

Otherwise, my dear liberal brethren, we look like disorganized idiots. Are we here to impeach George Bush or liberate Palestine? Let’s make up our fucking collective mind!

* See the paper: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/07/22_politics.shtml

Posted by Kay

link | posted by Jae at 10:31 AM |


Anonymous Anonymous commented at 10:30 PM~  

I love this forum! One of the problems that liberals have with conservatives, is that they generalize, pigeon hole and misunderestimate us. Conservativism is a body of work and thought directed toward preserving those things that make America great. It is lucid, well reasoned and supported with fact. Liberalism, on the other hand is a mosaic of compromise that yields to the least (sometimes very least) denominator. While conservatives may have rifts (i.e. judicial results v. judicial philosophy or a debate over whether spending cuts or tax cuts are more beneficial) there is a picture of liberals in the dictionary next to the phrase, politics makes strange bedfellows. Not many black folk would consider the struggle for gay rights to be equivalent to the struggle for voting rights, yet black folk swallow hard and go along. Liberalism is the loosest federation of anti-capitalists (tax hiking income redistributing, socialists, environmentalists, trade union leaders), America haters/blamers/internationalists (those that want to see the thugs at the UN rule the world to diminish US influence, those that blame the US for poverty around the world, etc.) atheists, who don't simply want to believe as they do, but want the rest of us to as well, race/poverty pimps and radical feminists whose goal it is to keep everyone angry and unborn baby killers looking to cull the American herd. These groups have little in common except the socialism that seems to bind them. The problems Democrats have at election time is not personality it is message. Why do you think Hillary is trying to tack toward the middle (in her speech anyway, because her voting record is among the most liberal in the Senate)? Like her husband, who knew he had to speak centrist to be elected and governed hard left when in office, Hillary knows she can't win middle America with her voting record views. Democrats will suffer loss after loss, unless and until they wrest control of their party from the hard left.

Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 12:09 AM~  

Conservatism died in the 1930s with Hoover. It is dying in front of our eyes now. It has no answers, when govt. action is needed, as shown in New Orleans. I'm not a liberal either. Liberalism has similar goals as conservatism.

Clinton governed from the left?? What planet are you on? Welfare Reform, Greenspan, anti gay marriage. He was a continuation of Reaganism.

Good post Jae. Lefties these days throw a potpourri of issues together. You never see that on the right.

Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 12:11 AM~  

Good post Kay sorry.

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