May 27th, 2009

A German breaks ranks with liberalism

Perhaps I should institute a “political changer of the day” feature. Today’s is that of Spiegel editor Jan Fleischhauer.

It’s pretty funny—although very sobering as well—to read of Fleischhauer’s childhood indoctrination in what one can only call the cult of liberalism, and his astonishment at discovering he wasn’t part of the circle dance anymore:

I tried to suppress my conservative tendencies at first. I convinced myself that they would eventually pass, like adolescent hot flashes. The next time I heard a joke about Kohl, I laughed more loudly than usual, hoping not to be noticed. In other words, I behaved like a 40-year-old married father who suddenly realizes that he’s gay, and doesn’t know what to do.

Fleischhauer finally embraced his inner conservative and came out of the closest without any sense of lingering shame. In his essay, he makes an observation about liberalism and its pervasiveness that has also occurred to me lately:

I would hazard to guess that many are to the left because others are.

Man’s tendency to assimilate, though well-documented in experimental psychology, is a trait routinely underestimated in everyday life. What we call conviction is often nothing but adaptation in an environment of opinions…No one wants to be the only person in an office who isn’t asked to join the group for lunch.

As more and more people around a person are liberals, the movement reaches a critical and self-sustaining mass because it requires stronger and stronger motivation and more and more bravery to break off and differ from the group. Fleischhauer doesn’t really answer the interesting question of why liberals, who so pride themselves on open-minded tolerance, are so passionately intolerant of opinions that differ from theirs, or why they prefer to consider those on the other side to be evil rather than merely well-meaning folks who happen to disagree with them.

The closest he comes is to compare liberalism to Christianity; the implication is that liberalism acts more as a religion than a political party. But in my experience, Christians are far more tolerant of nonbelievers than most liberals are of conservatives.

Liberals see the world as a Manichean struggle between the forces of good and those of evil rather than one of ideas in which reasonable people can differ. Liberals are the good, of course, and conservatives the bad; this is what leads to the strength of the intolerance. Fleischhauer describes it this way:

In my family, the SPD [Social Democrat Party, the party of the Left] was far more than a collection of like-minded people. Instead, it was seen as a sort of political Salvation Army, which would purge Germany of the remnants of fascism and lead it to a better, more just and democratic future. It stood for everything that was good about the country and, in a sense, represented, in the totality of its members and supporters, the wealth of kindheartedness that existed in Germany…The way we were supposed to feel about conservatives was obvious. They were either deeply reactionary, because they refused to accept progress, or dangerously narrow-minded. In other words, they were either despicable or pitiful characters.

The following description of Fleischhauer’s mother captures it exactly—no denizen of Berkeley could be any more passionate about politics:

My first political memory from childhood was the vote of no confidence against Willy Brandt in our national parliament, the Bundestag. I was nine, and the radio was on in the kitchen. I was waiting for lunch, but my mother stood at the stove, motionless and with her eyes closed, listening to the votes being counted in the broadcast. The tension in the room couldn’t have been greater if the outbreak of another war depended on the outcome — or the relief when, quite unexpectedly, the chancellor was saved from the CDU’s cowardly attack, almost as if a miracle had taken place. I understood early on that in politics, two eternal powers are struggling against one another, the power of light and the power of darkness.

In the face of all of this it’s amazing that Fleischhauer ended up a conservative at all—or whatever passes for one in Germany’s politically skewed-to-the-Left landscape. He doesn’t really describe that process in the essay. But he seems at peace with it now.

And fortunately, his mother is still talking to him, although that fact seems more of a testament to the power of maternal love than to her political open-mindedness.

25 Responses to “A German breaks ranks with liberalism”

  1. Gringo Says:

    More interesting news from Germany. There has recently been some more information uncovered about the killing in West Berlin in 1967 of the unarmed demonstrator Benno Ohnesorg./a>
    From the
    NYT.

    BERLIN — It was called “the shot that changed the republic.”
    The killing in 1967 of an unarmed demonstrator by a police officer in West Berlin set off a left-wing protest movement and put conservative West Germany on course to evolve into the progressive country it has become today.

    Now a discovery in the archives of the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, has upended Germany’s perception of its postwar history. The killer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, though working for the West Berlin police, was at the time also acting as a Stasi spy for East Germany.
    It is as if the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard had been committed by an undercover K.G.B. officer, though the reverberations in Germany seemed to have run deeper.

    Things are seldom what they seem. The killings of both JFK and of Benno Ohneshorg resulted in a leftward turn in both countries, but in both instances the killing were carried out by the left. Oswald was a Marxist, and Kurras was a Stasi agent.

  2. armchair pessimist Says:

    I wish Jan had defined what conservatism meant to him. But I’m being too hard; 46% (was it?) of American voters also need to answer that one.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Gringo: That is a truly extraordinary story. Thanks so much for calling my attention to it. Talk about the wheels of justice grinding slowly! I will try to write a post about it soon.

  4. FredHjr Says:

    My experience has been quite different from Jan’s. I was a Marxist in the days when it was more politically chic to be for Reagan and pure capitalism, and now I am a classical liberal (maybe you could call me a moderate conservative) at at time when it is chic to be liberal to cultural Marxist (although many people walking around think they are liberals when they really are unaware of the fact that they are cultural Marxists influenced by Frankfurt School teachers and professors).

    I seem to be out of sync with the culture. I wonder why. THAT has me sometimes mystified.

  5. colagirl Says:

    But in my experience, Christians are far more tolerant of nonbelievers than most liberals are of conservatives.

    Mine as well (and I am not a Christian.)

  6. Nolanimrod Says:

    Dear Neo:

    Absolutely socko! One of the most poignant things I’ve read.

  7. Herbert Asquith Says:

    As an Englishman of the moderate left (though morbidly against New Labour, chiefly for its authoritarianism) I must say that this conformity is indeed stultifying & I’d hate to live in such an environment, even if the views universally held were mine.

    But it must be said that these conformist tendencies are common in society. You know it amongst liberals, & as a result seem to view it as an exclusively liberal charachteristic. But a resident of Rexburg, Idaho would take a different view, & so would this person if he lived in a village in Bavaria & decided he was an atheist enamoured of a liberal lifestyle & politics.

    He says he lived in a fairly conservative district but never met any conservatives- most likely they were living in the same town, but he never met them nor did they ever have any contact with those like him.

    I myself live in an environment which is economically socialist- you try saying Thatcher wasn’t so bad in my workplace & you’ll be lucky to avoid a physical attack- but is also bitterly hostile to immigrants, gays & just about anything that isn’t exactly like “us”. (Look at something like the rust belt in American for something vaguely comparable)

    So, I probably would have cast my vote for Obama & not regretted it yet, as even if I turned against him I cannot identify a viable alternative. I do hope the GOP revive before long though. We spent 18 years living under one-party Conservative rule, followed by 12 years under one-party Labour rule, both of which was objectionable as the governments went too far & there was no opposition.

    Yes, I think the Dems will do this at some stage & will need to be opposed. It is all about having a culture in which there is no orthodoxy & people think for themselves & engage with those of other persuasions, which most people full stop don’t do.

    What I am saying is that conformity is something most humans seek, the safety of belonging to a group & being able to berate their enemies, & it is a bit unfair to attribute it solely to liberals.

    Have been lurking for a while & finding it quite interesting. But just as a little aside, how many of the links on your blogroll don’t share your views? I can say with some pride that I am a reader of conservative, liberal, socialist & unclassificable blogs, but it seems as if your ‘roll is all on your side- have not you yourself taken refuge in a right-wing community?

    Don’t know if I’m going to be flayed alive for commenting, but I hope I’ve said something vaguely worthwhile!

  8. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Fleischhauer doesn’t really answer the interesting question of why liberals, who so pride themselves on open-minded tolerance, are so passionately intolerant of opinions that differ from theirs, or why they prefer to consider those on the other side to be evil rather than merely well-meaning folks who happen to disagree with them.

    I always thought this was relatively simple. As Winston Churchill is sometimes misquoted as saying: “those under [some age] who are not liberals have no heart. Those above [some age] who are not conservatives have no brain.”

    It follows, therefore, that conservatives will think liberals have no brain (i.e. are stupid, or “just don’t get it”, a sentiment I see a fair bit of on conservative websites), whereas liberals will think conservatives have no heart (i.e. are evil, dangerously self-centered, concerned with profits over charity, etc.) Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    I’ve met some very smart liberals in my day. (Heck, I used to think I was one.) But a great many seem to favor youthful idealism over mature pragmatism. As such, they are convinced that they are contributing to a force for good in the world… and from there it’s a small step to consider their opponents, not helping the force for good, as being evil.

    Learning to see our political opponents as possibly wrong-headed, but not evil, is perhaps one of the biggest political challenges America faces these days. The well has been thoroughly poisoned, with blame enough for both sides of the aisle, and I’m not at all sure how we can undo that. (Paradoxically, we may see progress if liberals become seriously disillusioned over President Obama — who looks less and less like the man they thought they were voting for — and if conservatives can keep from playing “I told you so” ad nauseam.)

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  9. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    No Herbert, you’ll feel comfortable here as long as you are that even-handed. That was a good caution flag to raise. Of course conservatives are subject to the same social needs and pressures – though some, like FredHjr and myself, may have a congenital need to separate themselves from the dominant fashion.

    I do find that liberals are more susceptible to social pressure, however. That level of acceptance by The Best People seems very important to them psychologically. As conservatives have less of that temptation, we might speculate that we have more of another. There may be a desire to be a conservative – or at least, distinct from the fashionable intellectual culture – that stems from something other than the mere correctness of the creed.

    The common accusations by the left of what those hidden motivators are – fear, bigotry, greed, and the like – strike me as unlikely. But a desire to feel strong and independent, or some such psychological benefit? Sure, that’s plausible.

  10. Herbert Asquith Says:

    Apart from the discussion of the psychology of conservatives & liberals, there is another one to be had, about the psychology of converts versus lifelong holders of a particular view.

    I am a convinced atheist & secularist- which leads me to conclusions some on the left would disagree with, such as opposition to jihadism (I would probably disagree with you over how to fight it, but I think it should be fought, & so do the majority of thinking leftists & the centrists in the current Obama coalition).

    When poring over the works of Richard Dawkins (whom I admire even if it isn’t going to make me any friends!) I was struck by his discussion of those raised in devout households who became atheists. They couldn’t tell their parents or the people they grew up with because it would be trouble for them. This is, of course, the same situation neo & a lot of her friends find themselves in.

    Perhaps there is something which makes a person leave the fold, whatever fold they used to be in, & it would be traits like a strong will & intellectual/moral courage & such like. Because the parellels are striking, even though these atheists have if anything moved left politically.

    You are accordingly different to a lifelong conservative, a fissure which is well worth thinking about.

    I have also met many people who expressed a hostility to “converts” in general because of their perecived attitude to people who “don’t get it” & such- I’m sure you’ve all met ex-smokers, ex-alcoholics, etc. etc.

    Personally I wasn’t really raised with any opinion. Most people I know are vaguely socialist & socially authoritarian, but they rarely mention their views: I only actually discuss politics on blogs & go on other topics with real-life friends & family as none of them have enough interest to hold a conversation about politics. It is from life experience & blogging that I formed my views.

  11. Herbert Asquith Says:

    ‘I have also met many people who expressed a hostility to “converts” in general ‘

    Not saying that I hold this view- I don’t- just that some people seem to think all converts share certain traits, which is a view that would reward further study & that.

  12. grackle Says:

    Asquith must be a poet, for only a poet would chose a poet’s name for a nom de plume.

    My experience is that politics has little to do with the goodness, value, character, etc. of anyone – on a one to one basis. One of the best people I know is a classic Progressive, politically correct Bush/Cheney hater. Yet no one I know is kinder to people on a one to one basis.

    This micro/macro dynamic, it’s seeming incongruity, is interesting to me.

    I think one problem that can occur is when an individual’s politics become the arbiter of their very being, when they allow politics to dominate every personal decision, when all their views on everything in the world is filtered through their political identity. That’s when things become skewed.

    Some, sometimes with great difficulty, break out of this cage only to lock themselves into the other competing cage. From rabid liberal to rabid conservative – and vice versa.

  13. Herbert Asquith Says:

    No, I’m using the pseudonym of the former prime minister Herbert Asquith (who was the poet’s father actually). You’ve rumbled that it isn’t my real name though :)

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Herbert Asquith: I certainly would never assert that conformity of thought is a characteristic only found on the Left. However, in my own experience I have found it to be a more powerful force on the Left because the “my side is Good, yours is Evil” dynamic seems more prevalent there, perhaps because of the liberal/Left emphasis on feelings and good intentions as a determinant of political affiliation rather than thought and actual consequences of policy in the real world.

    I have found that the former is more likely to be the realm of the liberal and the Leftist, and the latter is more likely to be the realm of the conservative and the person on the Right (not the exclusive realm, mind you, but the definite and very strong tendency). Therefore groupthink and ostracism of the Other do seem to be more common among the Left as compared to the Right, and more common among Democrats than among Republicans. Perhaps the opposite is true in a state that’s very red, but I would suspect that it’s not as true nor as prevalent—nor would it seem as deeply hypocritical, since one of the things liberals seem to pride themselves on most is their openmindedness compared to what they see as the closedminded Right. Nothing could be further from the truth, in my experience.

    As for my blogroll, I haven’t updated it in years and so if I were to do it now there would probably be some changes. But a blogroll acts mostly as a guide for readers to a set of blogs that I either like or recommend in some way. This is true whether a blogger is on the Left or the Right, by the way. Therefore blogrolls generally tend to reflect the viewpoints of the blogger.

    However, Norm Geras (whose blog has been on my blogroll from the start) identifies himself as a man of the Left and a Socialist, although certainly not a conventional one; he supports many views with which I agree despite his socialist views. I suppose you should also consider Donklephant (also on my blogroll) to be a blog that’s certainly not on the Right, as well.

    However, I have yet to find a blog that’s exclusively of the Left that I would recommend—one that consistently exhibits reasoned and serious debate that gives one pause. That does not mean they don’t exist, of course. But I have not found one, and I certainly read liberal blogs with some regularity (you got any of that sort to recommend?). Most liberal blogs, like many conservative blogs, are a combination of preaching to the choir and attack of the other side. I’ve tried to make this one more than that.

  15. Herbert Asquith Says:

    Thanks for responding courteously & that.

    The only American blogs of any kind that I read on a regular basis are Andrew Sullivan (for the links mainly) & Pharyngula (which, although its author is left-wing, is far more about religion than politics). I’m not the man to go to for a recommendation- just someone who decided to stop by & explain something I didn’t agree with in that original post.

    I have also been lurking here ever since reading the Normblog profile- don’t actually read Geras’ blog iself, but I am interested in those profiles.

    You may enjoy reading this piece by a Briton who is probably more left-wing than me, explaining that he (as a firm opponent of the Iraq invasion) supports staying in Afghanistan to stamp out the Taliban.

    http://tinyurl.com/oj9abn

    Most of us regard the Iranian regime, for example, as especially vile. I meet a lot of Iranian refugees & I know whose side I’m on. But I would probably disagree with the right on the best way of ending that tyranny.

    I don’t like having to preface everything I say with an apology for the likes of Pilger (who, incidentally hates Obama because in his view he is too much like Bush). I don’t have anything to do with them & view them as turning their backs on the left-wing traditions such as international solidarity & opposition to tyrants, so they can’t be described as on the same side as me even though people call them “leftists”.

    But I am not any kind of conservative (or libertarian) & can’t imagine myself ever being one, so I still define myself as on the left.

    Norra bad conversation- I’ll probably revert to lurking though, if it’s all the same to you :)

    PS- Will be looking at Donklephant- I’ve already seen most of the rest :)

  16. FredHjr Says:

    Neo,

    The Manichean tendency that is frequently found on the collectivist side of the spectrum is easily explained. And this response is intended for “Herbert Asquith” too.

    I think I can claim some authority on this topic since I had spent ten years of my life (1977-87) as an aspiring academic Marxist, aiming to be a Jesuit theologian down the road who would find a way around the most formidable critiques of neo-Marxist thought. I got to know quite a cross-section of people who were some variant of Marxist/socialist/”progressive.”

    Utopian ideologies are indeed religions, since they do claim an ultimate, transcendent dimension to the realization of “heaven on earth.” Those who oppose it are often referred to as: racists, misogynists, homophobes, capitalists, imperialists, capitalist “pig dogs,” reactionaries, selfish, greedy, anti-progressive, and so on. These are all moral categories and insults. Thus, the classical liberal or conservative is considered evil because he or she opposes the emancipation of humanity. We are called exploiters, rapists, and destroyers of the earth.

    It is the alleged destruction of Gaia that most raises their hackles, since the only Heaven that will ever be will be here on this earth. So, those who are alleged to be destroyers of the earth are regarded as the ultimate evil: we would deny the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

    Having come over from the other side, I can tell you that there are two things that I accuse the collectivists of. First, they deny and violate natural law, because they deny that there is such a thing as natural rights. Second, I accuse them of epistemological error because of their belief in the perfectibility of the human being. I make this accusation because I understand myself as having been, at one time, a Pelagian heretic. However, I studiously and extensively explored issues and topics in psychology, neuroscience, and genetics in order to come to an understanding of the depth and breadth of the phenomenon of evil. And I can assure you that evil does have an organic basis, as well as the human dimension of the exercise of free will. I began as a young student who did not take the doctrine of original sin very seriously, but later in life I rediscovered it in surprising ways.

    Socialism will never usher in, as Marx said it, “the New Moral Man.” Socialism already is a failed experiment because it goes against one of the fundamental characteristics of human nature: human beings will not long labor for parasites. Like it or not, the profit motive has freed human beings from the drudgery of feudal, oligarchical societies. Have there been people and groups left behind? Yes. It is not a perfect system, and I would argue that each of us has an individual responsibility to help those in need. The state cannot do this entirely. Yes, I do believe in a basic social safety net, but when government takes more than 25% of a nation’s GDP it begins to strangle the dynamism of the free market. Anyway, Communism has failed. Even the social democratic state eventually consumes most of the wealth of the producers of society.

  17. grackle Says:

    Therefore groupthink and ostracism of the Other do seem to be more common among the Left as compared to the Right, and more common among Democrats than among Republicans.

    Couldn’t it also be that perception of “groupthink” and “ostracism” are more of a function of which group happens to be dominant in a given sphere or what group you are surrounded by in your life?

    As of now the media is largely controlled by the Left, likewise the more important parts of the educational system, which of course imbues our intellectuals with the same values. If everything was reversed I believe the same tendencies of “groupthink” and “ostracism” would be present, dressed up in conservative clothing of course.

    I’ve live among progressives in more than one large city and I’ve lived among conservatives in the backwoods of Arkansas, to name just one place, and I’ve found that the conservatives have their own very arbitrary versions of “groupthink” and “ostracism.” I do not think they would drop these inclinations if they(instead of the Progressives) dominated the media and the universities.

    I see a disheartening tendency among conservatives to drift away from philosophies of governance into the politically dead end issues(as I see it) of religion and morality. Any deviation from the currently accepted norms seems to be punished immediately and thoroughly by the gatekeepers. In my experience “groupthink” and “ostracism” are pathologies that can be endemic to any group.

    I may agree with a political group’s issues more often than not but that group should never demand I agree with it on every issue to be considered a member in good standing or the group risks losing me. I hasten to add that by this statement I do not mean to suggest that Neo has ever imposed such conditions on this blog. Tendencies of groups in general is my theme even though I’m quoting Neo to introduce my thoughts.

    BTW, I notice that Cheney has backed away from his earlier snarky remarks about Colin Powell. Cheney’s sometimes a bit quick on the draw but he’s also very savvy politically and I’ll bet he realizes that folks like Powell could be essential to the future success of the Party. Sure, I believe Powell made a mistake in endorsing Obama but I also believe in allowing a mistake or two without a total ostracism – apparently so does Cheney.

  18. FredHjr Says:

    grackle,

    Do you think we are engaging in groupthink here?

  19. Thomass Says:

    Herbert Asquith Says:

    Perhaps, but I don’t think it is a completely equal thing. I believe conservatives, to some degree, don’t believe politics should overlap with everyday life to the same degree (to modify a lefty phrase: the personal is not the political).

    The left tends to see everyday life as political and if it is not done to a leftist slant, it’s conservative at that (re: even when it is not).

    Conservatives can suffer from groupthink (I’ve seen it at times) but thankfully the number items they care about are more limited.

  20. grackle Says:

    Grackle, Do you think we are engaging in groupthink here?

    So far, not in this post or comments. But Fred, think about this for a moment – if I know what you think about any single political issue will I be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy what you think about other political issues?

  21. FredHjr Says:

    grackle,

    You may be surprised by some of my answers. Don’t forget that I’m a Catholic, former seminarian, and I once was quite absorbed with Liberation Theology. It means that I happen to give a damn about the downtrodden – and still am. I just think there are better ways of going about the alleviation of poverty.

    The stereotype of us conservatives as greedy and selfish is an unfair impression.

    Conservatives give more money to charities than do libs-Leftists. I’m curious to know why that is so. I’m not presuming to know why and I won’t impute a motive that reflects badly on them without something solid that explains it. I’m not saying that we’re better people. I’m just sayin’ that the stereotype of conservatives as greedy and selfish does not do justice to the reality.

    You forget that I’m a refugee from the Left, and believe me I’ve heard it all – every conceivable mockery and insult leveled at Republicans and conservatives. I may have used them myself a few times in my youth, but it was not a habit of mine. Years and experience have put the lie to some of my early impressions.

    I try to be civil as much as the next guy. I’m not saying that I’ve been always on my best behavior here. I’ve blown my stack a few times, but I think the provocation pushed me hard enough. I have a lot of patience, but I am no saint. Just another man who’s a work in progress.

  22. grackle Says:

    Fred, you seem to be writing about misconceptions and stereotypes that folks may have about conservatives. That’s fine, but I was writing about ANY group’s tendency toward groupthink and the ostracism of thought deemed contrary to the perceived norms of the group. For the record I don’t believe a conservative is necessarily less kind than a liberal.

    My contention, for the sake of debate, is that these tendencies(groupthink and ostracism), taken to their extremes, are not exclusive to the Left or even inherently more dominant in the Left than in the Right. It seems to me that it depends on who is more in control of the media, the educational system, the judicial system, etc. – those institutions that shape our thoughts.

    Those groups in charge of those institutions will seek, perhaps always have sought, either consciously or unconsciously, to promote their own group’s viewpoints – maybe more in recent history than in the past – but I think the basic tendency has probably always been there.

    And it also depends, I believe, on who happens to be around you. If you are a conservative and are surrounded by liberals you may(with good reason) feel threatened. But I think the opposite is also true.

    I have no scientific rationale to offer – my thoughts on this are based on my own personal experience. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to prove any of this in any scientific manner – one way or the other – one difficulty being that social and psychological factors are hard to quantify – another being that such studies are highly subject to bias.

    Just as you, I’ve lived among the Right and among the Left and based on those experiences I strongly suspect that everything else being equal that there would be very little difference in how each group would handle its dissidents.

    In my viewpoint both the Right and the Left have moved away from some basic principles they used to have. Since I identify more with the Right than the Left I worry more about the Right. In short, I think the Republican Party is heading down the road to more defeat because the Party has all but abandoned issues of governance proven in the past to be attractive to voters in favor of issues having to do with morality and religion.

  23. FredHjr Says:

    grackle,

    I’m a religious person, but like you I think religious issues should be put on the back burner in the Republican Party. Having said that, I do not mean that we should alienate and humiliate religious groups. I recognize just how divisive this agenda of religion is. Even within churches themselves (and synagogues) there are deep and bitter divides.

    I had a room mate in college in the house I lived in, where there were four of us sharing the rent, who was a Reagan conservative (at the time I was quite the opposite). We got along great. That’s no exaggeration. Occasionally we would have repartee about politics, but we had interests other than politics (like sports – Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and college games at UNH). Our political conversations in tone and substance were very civil and courteous. He never held our differences against me. Never. And I him. My mother in law and my now deceased father in law used to poke me about being a Democrat, back when I was one, and they never held it against me. We were civil and friendly about our differences.

    These are examples of positive experiences I had of conservatives back when I was not one of them. However, today things are indeed becoming more hostile between the two sides. Decidedly so. Case in point, my wife’s sister and her husband. Now, my sister in law and I get along fine, but we are opposites on the spectrum. The very few times the topic of politics comes up, I mainly listen and say very little. Her husband, who is not a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination, does have issues with me. About the war. His brother is in the Army and had to go to Iraq. I supported the war, and still do. And it has been a real sore point with Jim in how he regards me. He has been much less friendly towards me since his brother did a tour over there. The relationship is much cooler, and every now and then he lets his BDS break through – and usually it’s directed at me.

    I realize that every individual’s experience has its own nuances, but anecdotally I think today much of the vitriol comes from the Left. In my environment, we conservatives tend to try to stay under the radar.

    By nature I am not a person who holds grudges. I am not petty. So, I don’t lash out at people unless I am really pushed or simply encounter something that is outrageously stupid, petty, or mean. And I am more likely to stay away from politics and religion at parties, family gatherings, etc. Or, at least I won’t be the person who brings it up.

  24. grackle Says:

    Her husband, who is not a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination, does have issues with me.

    It’s tragic when otherwise nice people let these things get in the way of friendships and family relationships. I have a story also.

    Back just after the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation I had a job in which there was a weekly meeting of us workers with the boss. I was not too long out of the Navy, having joined when I was 17. This meeting was ostensibly for work-related reasons but after the first 10 minutes it would always turn to politics. My boss was VERY conservative and hated the Democrats. He dominated 98% of the conversation in these meetings.

    The rest of the guys, there were 6 to 8 eight of us in all, would nod eagerly in agreement and give various signs verbally and with body language that they were in total agreement. I think only about half of them actually were in agreement. I did not join in on the smooching, even though I essentially agreed with him about many of his opinions – for instance, I was very pro-Vietnam War, as was he. But I didn’t enjoy being lectured by a boss on the job about politics. I felt it was none of his business how I felt about politics.

    This man would stare at me pointedly during these sessions. He would make thinly veiled remarks obviously directed at me. No one in the group ever came to my defense. They did not want to risk his anger, I suppose. Or perhaps they were annoyed at me – I don’t really know.

    This guy kept trying to find some way he could fire me that was justifiable to his superiors. But it was a bureaucracy so as long as I could turn in the numbers I was somewhat protected. Every week at the meetings it was the same thing – extreme hostility. Private meetings between he and I were also interesting.

    I worked there for 2 years until I got my degree, surviving I guess near a hundred of those meetings and what must have been a good dozen attempts to get me off the payroll through some pretext or another. Within a month after graduating I found another job through a competitive testing system at another bureaucracy and stayed there until that organization offered some of us an early retirement awhile back. I now have a part-time job at a local university.

  25. Abbie Says:

    Both liberal and catservonives want clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. The difference comes in their basic philosophies. Liberals believe the government should get involved and fix the environment through a series of laws. The want to tax polluters. They want to cut back on our use of energy. They want the government to put controls on how many miles our cars must get per gallon of gas. They want to join Kyoto and place stops on our industrial growth.Conservatives believe that we can still grow and let the free market find the solutions for our environmental problems. We will have more gasoline efficient cars when the public buys them. We will have biofuels, oilgae, etc. when the free market makes it economically viable. People will start producing mini refineries in their back yard to produce bio-diesel and all sorts of things in our future that we cannot imagine today. Many of our legislative actions will be counterproductive to the creativity of human ingenuity.Therefore conservative don’t even want to believe that global warming exists. If they admit it exists then they would have to do something about it and that would be contrary to their basic philosophy of allowing free market capitalism to run its own course.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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