July 23rd, 2010

Talking to liberals

A while back, commenter “Steve H.” asked a question. It’s one to which I unfortunately still don’t have a good answer, although I’m highlighting it because it’s a question I’ve been increasingly asking myself for some months now:

We all know people and perhaps have friends who support this administration. How do we even converse with them after this? Do they not see the rage, polarization and tearing at the social fabric of this country they are causing?

Of course,the more general question of how to deal with friends whose political persuasion is so different is one I’ve been wrestling with in one form or another for many years. In fact, it used to be one of the main topics on this blog. That’s because my “conversion” happened gradually but quietly. Call me naive, but when I finally began to talk to liberal friends and family (which for me meant nearly everyone I know) about that political change of mine, I expected interesting but cordial discussions on the merits.

Was I ever in for a surprise—the rage and in some cases shunning that met me was a profound shock. You see, as a moderate liberal, I had always assumed that liberals believed in “tolerance” of the ideas of others.

But apparently I had gone over to the dark side. And as time progressed, I wrestled with my own feelings that they were the ones on the dark side, if only the side of the sort of ignorance that can allow evil to triumph. This latter notion was helped along by the fact that some of these friends—not all, but a goodly percentage—really were relatively uninformed about everything except the headlines and maybe the first paragraphs of the version of the news offered by the MSM, especially the NY Times or the Boston Globe. Some, of course, had a greater interest—those who read the Nation or loved Michael Moore or Howard Zinn or did have a special interest in history, but they were far fewer in number.

So I thought my task might be to gently urge them to at least read other sources of information, and if they agreed to receive them, I sent them links to articles I thought especially good. It didn’t change any minds as far as I knew (well, maybe one or two), but at least I’d tried.

Now I don’t know what to do. I am not sure whether any of my friends are paying much attention to events now (when I ask them, they mostly say they are not). I don’t think they would agree with me about how deeply liberty is threatened right now even if they were paying close attention, and I’m not even sure how much they value liberty versus PC thinking. And anyway, they’re used to dismissing such notions of threatened individual freedoms as scaremongering right-wing nutjob tactics (unless the one doing the threatening of liberty is George Bush or Dick Cheney, that is) and McCarthyism (the actual history of which they are also mostly unaware). If I were to voice my concerns—for example, the fact that I pretty much agree with this piece—they would think it evidence that I’ve lost my mind and that I’m becoming dangerous. So I must tread carefully if I wish to retain my credibility.

I have no desire to become a hermit. People here have given me the advice to make new friends. But that’s difficult to do at my age, and new friends almost never can replace old. These are people I know and love—sometimes from childhood, sometimes from when our now-very-grown-up children were babies or even from when we were pregnant, some from college or high school. I cannot suddenly desert them, and I don’t think I should.

But I have come to believe that they are enemies to liberty, although not intentionally. Do intentions matter? I think they do. Will they wake up? Perhaps if things get much worse—but then will it already be too late? And in the meantime, what do I do with my own anger? And how much do I try to engage them in conversations that might be not only futile but actively counterproductive? And if I do engage them, what approach do I take—rage does not cut it or convince anyone; that much I know.

I don’t have the answers, but I certainly have the questions.

[ADDENDUM: I added this in the comments section, to clarify: Intentions matter in terms whether change in opinion can occur. It has to do with how susceptible people are to rational argument and facts—in other words, whether they are fools or knaves. It matters in terms of whether you are wasting time talking to them or not.]

168 Responses to “Talking to liberals”

  1. Baklava Says:

    Neo wrote, “Of course,the more general question of how to deal with friends whose political persuasion is so different is one I’ve been wrestling with in one form or another for many years.

    Me too…. with my girlfriend…

    Her most memorable phrase is, “I’m not in the mood – let’s have this discussion some other time.”

    The other time never comes.

    It comes after she says some things… to which I’m excited because I feel there is an opportunity for discussion and a ‘response’.

    The response is shut down. When everything else in the relationship is a 9.5 on the scale of 1 through 10 – what am I supposed to do?

  2. Baklava Says:

    Neo wrote

    I expected interesting but cordial discussions on the merits.

    Was I ever in for a surprise—the rage and in some cases shunning that met me was a profound shock.

    I expected that I was treated with the same respect as always. I only expect that we “hear” each other.

  3. Baklava Says:

    Neo, I’ve had to resolve that the relationship is more important than the negligence and set of intentions the other might or might not have.

    We will need our friends in times of trouble.

    They may actually need us – and we may have stacked away cash/savings/food for the calamities that await.

    I would hold out the cash/food/shelter to those very same people until they admitted that our Greece-like policies is what got us here and signed a pledge to vote for:
    1) Personal responsibility
    2) national security
    3) freedom and the free market

    As these things allow good people with good work ethic to prosper. The safety net should be for the non-able bodied.

    Some might say that that isn’t treating your “friends” very nice.

    I say it’s the best thing we can do for them.

  4. david foster Says:

    These discussions can be very difficult, but they work better if you approach them with a *marketing* mindset. For example, if the person is over 40 or so, and considers himself a liberal, *do not* use “liberal” as a term of opprobrium, rather strive to show how today’s “liberals” (or “progressives” as they call themselves) differ in so many ways from the liberals of yore.

  5. Mark in Spokane Says:

    I come from a family that was working-class Catholic Democrats. For generations. In my generational cohort, virtually everyone stopped practicing Catholicism and became non-practicing — either agnostic or just kind of generally God-believing but not religious. That caused some pain for my grandmother and my mom’s generational cohort (aunts and uncles) but nothing major.

    I turned conservative (which means voting mostly Republican although there are a few Democrats I have supported in local and state races) and it has caused more consternation in my family than I can even relate. Tearful conversations with my grandmother while she was still alive, my mom still gets upset if the subject comes up too much.

    In short, for my tribe, abandoning one’s ancestral religious tradition is viewed as being less of a betrayal of the family’s identity than abandoning liberalism and the Democratic Party.

    That, in a nutshell, told me everything I have ever needed to know about the liberal mindset when it comes to politics.

  6. Bob from Virginia Says:

    “Rage and shunning” are indications that one has hit a nerve. At some level they know their ideas are false but for some reason feel a need to hang onto them. You threatened them. People do not rage and shun against holders of silly ideas.

    BTW I’m in the same boat, friends and family are hallucinatory liberals. My plan of non-attack is to wait and see if they can defend Obama’s miscreant behavior and say nothing until spoken to. Then if they defend him, add something like, he will mainly be remembered for his heroic effort to stamp out democracy in Honduras.

    The Tancredo article had an additional benefit. It appeared in a MSM publication and clearly stated what many have already concluded and still others will conclude, maybe even a few of our friends.

  7. Jewels Says:

    Great thoughts from you. I especially appreciate your patience and your willingness to stick by your friends despite their voting records.

    I’ve found that I’m learning to be more patient and willing to speak to liberals since Obama came into office. I’m surprised at how hostile they are, but I’m also positive that a gentle persistance has caused more than one of them to pause and think twice.

  8. CathyB Says:

    I’m so glad I read this piece of yours today, Neocon! What would you do if it were every one of your four siblings, and two of your four children?? I must tell you, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Among my sisters (3) and myself, we have an unspoken agreement to just NEVER (and I mean NEVER) discuss anything bordering on politics or elections. They know where I stand and they stand. But we value our sisterhood so much. I am fortunate that my two daughters are so strong and well-informed and thoughtful, I always have someone I can turn to – that is indeed a blessing. (They are as outraged as you and I are!) Needless to say, I hold my breath a lot and bite my tongue in family gatherings!

  9. Hong Says:

    I’ve tried to do the email thing too Neo and they’ve flushed em away without reading them or retaliated by sending me crap from the HuffPo or other lefty site. Don’t bother talking politics unless they provoke you. You won’t be able to convince or persuade them. Probably the best you can do is make the subject so toxic that they won’t discuss it in your presence.

  10. roc scssrs Says:

    Old joke: A prospering Irish-American drove in from the suburbs to the Old Neighborhood to take his mother to the polls. He asked who she was voting for. “The Democrat,” she replied. The son tried to change her mind, but no luck. “I swear, Mom,” he said, “if Jesus Christ himself were on the Republican ticket, you wouldn’t vote for him.” “Don’t be daft, boy,” she replied. “Why would he go changin’ parties now?”

  11. rickl Says:

    I recommend cats.

  12. Artfldgr Says:

    Do intentions matter? I think they do.

    with a slight edit:

    Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancing along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water – BAM. A f*ckin’ bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces. Now I ask ya, would you give a f*ck what kind of intentions the son-of-a-bitch who shot you had?

    again… you refuse to understand the difference between collective leadership and what they teach you so you behave and respond right, and what a leader of individuals would be doing.

    the argument of intentions is sociopathic diversion…

    a normalization of a variation the concept that (some large group we have been Pavlovian trained to love no matter what they are really doing) promoted first, where merit could no longer be the measure, or else they are not equal.

    As long as we follow merit, we were all stuck were our abilities and fortune woud take us. but a certain group of citizens signed on to a collectivist organization with progressive intents, and so they needed a way to bribe them and cover what misery they do to them.

    so they trained their followers to want cohesiveness and group collectivism over all else, and so they argued that intents matter..

    its a common way that a click of a certain gender will accept the nasty behavior of others so tht their social group would not fall apart and jeopardize the local community.

    the other gender, who deals more with externalizes tended not to focus on that, as forgiving an external force, is not the same as forgiving a internal disruption.

    [if you need a supporting dynamic.. you have to somehow accept the crap you get from coworkers so the company continues, but you dont have to accept any crap from external employees of competitor companies. their idea that the whole world is one internal group, with no externalities makes us forgive even Stalin to get along with the liberals]

    anyone care to read the papers and arguments as to the dialectics? i didnt think so.

  13. Hong Says:

    Maybe you can talk about things they sympathize with you on and use it as a wedge issue to broaden their horizons. A friend is Israeli, but a Democrat. I’ve tried talking about the ‘peace’ movement of the ‘Palestinians’ and found some common ground and agreement that it’s a hoax. Still he hedges by calling the subject ‘complicated’ but it’s a beginning.

  14. Artfldgr Says:

    “have to go along to get along”

    At receptions and parties (which I hate), they’re sitting ducks. They have to go along to get along–poor dears! Camile Paglia…

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    Who wants friends like what you describe, when the man comes to the door and wants to know who to take, you want to know who all those friends will remember first for being different?

  16. david foster Says:

    Old American saying: “Tell me where a man gets his corn pone, and I’ll tell you where he gets his opinions”

    Many people work in environments in which their career prospects might be harmed if they were to dissent from liberal orthodoxy. Except for those who are exceptionally courageous, it is easier and safer to just ignore information that might lead to a dangerous change of mind.

  17. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Mark, a fascinating contrast in responses for those of us familiar with Massachusetts Irish Catholics. I have heard similar bewilderment from Jews who watch siblings and cousins leave the faith, have problems with drugs, and move in with homosexual lovers, who do not attract the ire they do for becoming conservative. My usual framing is how very tribal it all is. Understand it that primitively, in evolutionary terms. You have left the tribe, which increases everyone’s danger, decreases ability to capture resources, and means you cannot be trusted. (Read Nicholas Wade on tribal religion and what it provided in trust cues).

    I cannot speak for the generations before mine, but I came of age in the 1960’s, when it was very clear that we, on the left, were distancing ourselves from patriotism, the bulk of Americans, and even America itself. This was not a split where both parties grew apart and each can rightfully complain about the other being the instigator. We on the left did this. I was there. After that point, there are certainly many things conservatives (and other nonliberals) said and did which contributed to the growing anger of the split. But “who started it?” is not up for debate.

  18. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    roc scssrs – and also
    “Why, you’d vote for the devil himself if he ran as a Democrat!”

    “Well, not in the primaries.”

  19. betsybounds Says:

    I think intentions matter, but they don’t matter most. If what many of us guests of neo’s think is coming, comes, then those good people misled by good intentions will see the truth, and the truth shall set them free. If they don’t, then I would have to think either that their good intentions are hostage to blindness, or else weren’t so good after all. Sometimes when I read things by liberals or talk to some of my liberal acquaintances, I’m struck by the fact that they don’t see the same real world when they look out of their eyes that I see when I look out of mine. It’s really that basic.

  20. Steve G Says:

    You are asking or expecting too much. Are you angry that you can’t make your friends understand your viewpoints or just frustrated? After all, as you taught me, a mind is a difficult thing to change. But, I think for your own mental health you should not be afraid to let your friends know that you have become a conservative. I proudly advise my friends and family that I am a raving conservative. They got over it. We mostly do not discuss politics unless someone else initiates the discussion, if only to feel superior. The fact that I discuss facts rather than feelings is of no moment. I never change minds and no longer try. They never let facts or a logical argument get in the way of their complacency and superiority. I am treated as if I was carrying a contagious disease and, in some respects, I guess I am. Thinking about issues that you never gave a damn about requires work. So, for my friends and family, it comes down to “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

    Insofar as not losing long standing friends, you lost them long ago when you undertook to live a lie. If you can’t agree to disagree then you will sooner or later give them up. Your relationships will become shallow in the extreme and boring.

  21. Mr. Frank Says:

    I figured out a long time ago that liberalism is emotional and conservatism is rational. I believe it was Churchill who said words to the effect that to be young and conservative was to be without a heart. To be old and liberal is to be without a brain. Using rational arguments with a liberal is like teaching a pig to read. It frustrates you and angers the pig.

    They say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. It appears that the reality has to be of an extreme nature.

  22. Steve G Says:

    By the way, have you thought seriously about participating in your local Tea Party’s activities? No matter your age you will meet people who you can talk to and they will, too.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: again I believe you misunderstand my point.

    Intentions matter in terms whether change in opinion can occur. It has to do with how susceptible people are to rational argument and facts—in other words, whether they are fools or knaves. It matters in terms of whether you are wasting time talking to them or not.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve G: I have participated in local tea party activities. And you may not have seen my posts about it, but virtually all my friends know my politics by this time. I just don’t keep discussing it all over and over with the people who have shown they’re either uninterested or with whom discussions don’t lead anywhere. I discuss it now and then with the others.

  25. david foster Says:

    Mr Frank…”I believe it was Churchill who said words to the effect that to be young and conservative was to be without a heart. To be old and liberal is to be without a brain”…possibly said earlier by Clemenceau, but no matter. They key point to me is that our current “progressives” are lacking in BOTH the brain and heart departments: for example, the willingness to casually consign generation after generation of kids, especially among the poor, to the tender ministrations of the unreformed public-education establishment. People with hearts wouldn’t do this, and we need to make this point much more effectively.

  26. Wandriaan Says:

    To me this is not so much a tribal thing, but a matter of religion. For the secular left leftist politics is their religion. It is was gives their lives ultimate meaning.
    So when they find out that you are on the right or conservative, you simply are a heretic, which is the worst thing there is. And also the most dangerous to communicate with, because the heretic can diabollically influence you to also become a heretic, and as a result suffer the consequences of that: ultimate excommunication, dragged to the fires of Hell…
    I try to avoid politics and religion among family, but it is hard: when you remain silent, you feel afterwards guilty for not speaking up; but when you speak up, you have afterwards doubts if the value of speaking your hearts truth was worth the resulting anger and distancing…
    I find it all very depressing. I keep my sanity in these matters by trusting in God and prayer. In fact, it is these kinds of unsolvable, existential problems and experiences, that make me appreciate the faith-life where I was raised in. It makes me understand where faith in God is at all good for. Life is often messy, contradictory. Without periodically catch a breath from a place that transcends it all, I would suffocate.

  27. Wandriaan Says:

    To me this is not so much a tribal thing, but a matter of religion. For the secular left leftist politics is their religion. It is was gives their lives ultimate meaning.
    So when they find out that you are on the right or conservative, you simply are a heretic, which is the worst thing there is. And also the most dangerous to communicate with, because the heretic can diabollically influence you to also become a heretic, and as a result suffer the consequences of that: ultimate excommunication, dragged to the fires of Hell…
    I try to avoid politics and religion among family, but it is hard: when you remain silent, you feel afterwards guilty for not speaking up; but when you speak up, you have afterwards doubts if the value of speaking your hearts truth was worth the resulting anger and distancing…
    I find it all very depressing. I keep my sanity in these matters by trusting in God and prayer. In fact, it is these kinds of unsolvable, existential problems and experiences, that make me appreciate the faith-life where I was raised in. It makes me understand where faith in God is at all good for. Life is often messy, contradictory. Without periodically catch a breath from a place that transcends it all, I would suffocate.

  28. alanstorm Says:

    Neo, intentions matter, but only to a very small degree, and they do not excuse. Otherwise they would not be a proverbial paving material.

    “But my intentions were good!” ain’t gonna fly when the results are uniformly bad and entirely predicable to boot.

  29. stu Says:

    Mr. Frank has it right about emotion versus rationalism. Given the nature of liberalism, I find that life is more pleasurable if I don’t discuss politics with those friends on the other side. Fortunately we have the internet which allows us to find a community of like minded friends.

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    alanstorm: I don’t know whether you say my reply to artfldgr above, but in it I wrote:

    Intentions matter in terms whether change in opinion can occur. It has to do with how susceptible people are to rational argument and facts—in other words, whether they are fools or knaves. It matters in terms of whether you are wasting time talking to them or not.

  31. M J R Says:

    Neo remarked in a reply (above),

    “Intentions matter in terms whether change in opinion can occur. It has to do with how susceptible people are to rational argument and facts—in other words, whether they are fools or knaves. It matters in terms of whether you are wasting time talking to them or not.”

    Waste of time, 95 percent of the time. They are simply not “susceptible . . . to rational argument”.

    [By the way, I come from a family whose religion was/is to be liberal/socialist. It’s a fundamental part of their identity.]

    In a few old Laurel and Hardy film shorts, after Stanley (the skinny one) has yet again done something or other — always innocently well-meaning — to Ollie (the rotund one), Ollie quietly sighs and says simply, “I have nothing to say”.

    When it comes to discussing public or social policy with such people as you and I and many who visit here encounter, that’s my approach, in both thought and action.

    A shame . . .


  32. jhankey Says:

    When it comes to dealing with friends and family it sucks. Grin and bear it and only pick a fight when it is of the utmost importance. Now others, such as all the young liberals here in Austin that I’m among are fun. I cheerfully tell them what ninnies, nitwits, and nincompoops they are to their faces. They think I’m nuts, but they end up mad and I’m happy.

  33. Leslie Says:

    I think you’re lucky, Neo, to have friends you still want to talk to. The lack of appreciation for what they have is what most repels me from “liberal” people I know—my twin sister among them. Like the Journolist e-mailers, they confuse critique with argument and feel like life is very scarey even though they have plenty of money, go on big vacations every year, and (most) have more than one home. It’s extremely emotionally depressing to me to see how unappreciative they are, and it has led me to become an alienated hermit. What worries me is that it will harden my heart, but maybe the pure agony of it will keep that from happening. I sure hope so.

  34. kasper Says:

    I too have to avoid politics with most of my friends, and all three of my sisters, all of whom are have masters in their area of education — library science, city planning, nurse practitioner — and very generous and supportive people.

    I used to think it was they were just ill informed and not interested in questioning the media they got their news from.

    But now, I’m with ‘betsybounds’ and her comment “I’m struck by the fact that they don’t see the same real world when they look out of their eyes that I see when I look out of mine. It’s really that basic.”

    I’ve come to the same conclusion.

    At some point we will be incapable of co-exisiting. What then? I hate to imagine.

  35. Ilíon Says:

    My siblings are a complex mix of 60s-style wishful thinking grafted onto their essentially conservative natures.

    My sisters have most out-grown that 60s crap, but there are odd areas where they are not yet ready to give it up. For instance, the one seems to fully understand my explanation to her that there is no such thing as “price gouging,” and she insists in persisting in thinking/judging in those terms.

    With my brother, I know better than to discuss important things; and, consequently, we have very little contact.

  36. Tom Says:

    We are frustrated in our missionary zeal to convert the heathen, especially when they are close to us. If we try too hard they’ll put us in pots, boil and eat us. So I only try after I see a glimmer of receptivity. And I talk to folks I don’t really know, like supermarket check-out folks who are often tired and frustrated. When their terminals fail to cooperate, that gives me an opportunity to say “You’re gonna love Obamacare”. They usually wince and agree. My role is not to convert the hardened heathens who are part of my ‘hood; it is to bring someone else around to cancel one of their votes.

  37. Artfldgr Says:

    it turns the game of “rational” argument into trying to figure out what to say to make it OK.

    ie, what argument will unlock the justification to do what they want..

    you have completely negated my argument without addressing it, because your inside the glass house and cant step back.

    think of it from a sociopaths point of view… is a rational argument to a sociopath something to be believed in, or something to move material?

    again. with feelings, you can pretend that things that are not rational are (the destruction of men will lead to the liberation of women, and not the demographic end of the group that accepts the war between the producers of the next generation?)

    thats why obama keeps wanting to explain… they feel that with the right ‘rational’ arguments for the ignorant, the gullible, the people who dont know how to debate, those not wiling to stand alone, etc.

    this is what you refuse to see.. and rather than abandon their points, what they do is study history to read the most rational arguments of their side. they refine them. then like dawkins they pretend there are no other rational arguments when they talk to you (who generally still is very ignorant but doesnt want to be considered so)

    this is why everthing in their dialectic is wored as the question. the woman question. the race question.

    they are trying to find the argument to dialogue you to consensus… even if they come up with mutually exclusive ones and only reveal them separately to two different groups.

    the journolist was a bunch of people brainstorming for a false rational argument to turn your opinion.

    i have TRIED to have rational arguments… but thats not possible since people are selecting what they will admit as evidence from history…

    making excuses for it to protect their abusers.

    wont even believe the history is as fake for you as it is for the other dupes…

    you cant accept the truth of the big con

    and since you dont get this, you dont get why you cant get to them… you dont get that they are just as unable to let go of their crutch as you are!!!!! you still equate them with ideas when ideas live and people die, and lie (and they werent even the ones to invent the ideas).

    you dont get that even the people that did this to them have no cure. if you read their papers, and how and what, as i have… you will find that they discuss the ‘question’..

    they tried reeducation camps… they don’t work
    which is why so many of the quotes just accept having to exterminate and be brutal to them when things change since they will use what they learned to reverse it.

    The woman question

    nice and clean just like the progressive want it.
    but go back and read their original stuff on it.

    and not one mention that talking like that is talking old socialism/communisms way of the communist intelligentsia..

    The term is first used in England in the Victorian era, stimulated for example by the Reform Act 1832 and the Reform Act 1867. The Industrial Revolution brought hundreds of thousands of lower-class women into factory jobs, presenting a challenge to traditional ideas of a woman’s place

    i am telling you to go study history in some detail, and learn how they lied to you.

    and the response has been what you complain about your friends. you have changed sides, not learned to be independent…

    to throw away the broken thought patterns they gave you all your life…

    wiki tells you that it was all aobut the reform act the victorians, etc..

    do they mention
    Edward Aveling and Eleanor Marx Aveling 1886

    of course not.. wiki is for consumption, this other stuff is for the people who want to be on the ‘in’

    i am telling you how to know what the in leaders know and think and get their sources (you know becuase they hint in their speeches!!!)

    The woman question is one of the organisation of society as a whole.

    as i said, they reorganized society according to these plans from the 1830s…

    which you wont read… so you can keep claiming what you learned from them as a refined argument for consumption of the “Lumpen Proletariat”..


    he is describing you…

    Lumpenproletariat (a German word literally meaning “rag proletariat”) is a term first defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The German Ideology (1845) and later elaborated on in other works by Marx. The term was originally coined by Marx to describe that segment of the working class that would never achieve class consciousness, and was therefore worthless in the context of revolutionary struggle.

    they are the masses to go in the conflagration (holocaust)… but you havent read those plans either.

    this is why the feminists sound like the black national socialsts and the anarchists. and all that.
    they started as terrorists too… planting bombs.

    In the late 1960s, Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party came to believe that the lumpenproletariat could have a progressive role. Newton argued that the economic and social system of his time was fundamentally different from that which Marx based his analysis on, saying, “As the ruling circle continue to build their technocracy, more and more of the proletariat will become unemployable, become lumpen, until they have become the popular class, the revolutionary class.

    unless your going to go out there and read the 200 years of literature you dont know exists…

    your not going to get it..

    Marx’s definition has influenced contemporary sociologists, who are concerned with many of the marginalized elements of society characterized by Marx under this label. Marxian and even some non-Marxist sociologists now use the term to refer to those they see as the “victims” of modern society, who exist outside the wage-labor system, such as beggars, or people who make their living through disreputable means: prostitutes and pimps, swindlers, carnies, drug dealers, bootleggers, and bookmakers, but depend on the formal economy for their day-to-day existence.

    The concept is similar to the more modern term, underclass.

    Subcultural capital and the female ‘underclass’? A feminist response to an underclass discourse

    its like talking to a cultist… who is out.. but still wants to romanticize the nice parts of their abusive living…

    but then again… your arguments are relative, and mine are absolute… another gift they gave you..

    by the way…
    you should realize that its not that hard for very smart devious people to make arguments that not as smart but still very smart people find themselves bound up in.

    obama shouted out to kansas city
    the birthplace of progressivism…

    why dont you read obamas progressives speech.
    you cant come away and not realize that he is a progressive..

    Our Past, Our Future & Vision for America

    and what do the progressives stand for since 1830s?
    the stuff that you disagree with with the feminists. but is key, and the stuff you agree with, is temporary as the realization of the prime progressive points makes those points moot!

    I want to give you an example that I think illustrates this fact. As some of you know, during the 2004 U.S. Senate General Election I ran against a gentleman named Alan Keyes. Mr. Keyes is well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless.

    well, they are…
    and the shoutout in kansas was to Moses harmon and his sexual communes and free love people.

    for only those women who wanted to go out and have sex with no responsibility would want the list of improvements!!!!

    it makes the rest of the lumpen proletariat kind of upset, but they want to be a member of the in group… so they dont oppose these women whose whole goal was to lower the bar of women and race to the bottom.

    THEY know what i am trying to get you to know.
    but you keep telling me how you feel about some idea they presented…

    i have sat with some of these women and since i know the lingo, and all that, i can answer back and they think i am a true believer… they will talk to me in ways they wont talk to you.

    kind of like that news reporter who said those antisemite things… she was always that way, she is a progressive, she just hadnt let it slide in bad company when they had a camera before.

    but i give up..

    as this whole argument is why we are not going to succeed… we cant get rid of the institutions myths and laid back establishment period (designed to make you so attached that when today came, you cant do what you need to do).

    if you had read so much of what i linked to and expanded from that to other things you would have found your own way to the same truth.

    obama sounds different in that speech, very different
    Now, such strategies of avoidance may work for progressives when our opponent is Alan Keyes. But over the long haul, I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people’s lives — in the lives of the American people — and I think it’s time that we join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.

    he is talking about using religion as a tool

    and the reconciliation he is referring to is social justice and liberation theology… reformations like the soviet union did to the russian orthodox church (another history i said to read).

    And that is why that, if we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at – to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own – then as progressives, we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.

    see.. they dont care what your hopes and values are, they just want to find the rational argument that makes the idiots fall in line.

    More fundamentally, the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical – if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.

    if we scrub language of all religious content?

    he is talking about how to rationally argue you to support him long enough for him to do what he wants.

    hows that working?

    by the way, its a 2006 speech

    Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting “preachy” may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

    I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology – that can be dangerous. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith. As Jim has mentioned, some politicians come and clap — off rhythm — to the choir. We don’t need that.

    see.. the mission is to come up with a combination of things that will sound rational to the poor stupid people. and you feminist progressives out there, you go after your group… and you black progressives, you work on them… and so on.


    Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I,” resonates in religious congregations all across the country.

    lets use them… lets latch on to what THEY think what THEY feel.. and we will use that to direct them.

    now what is their REAL intention?

  38. Capn Eddie Ricketyback Says:

    I will not dump any of my current liberal friends unless absolutely necessary, but I damn sure won’t make any new ones. I just have too much disrespect for that ideology that I believe will have horrible results for this country. I avoid any political discussions with those I still have who adhere to that abhorrent philosophy, but I will occasionally express an opinion if asked, and at the first sign of hostility to it they will get dumped. And none of them will get any help from me, who has planned as well as possible for the worst, if the worst happens.

    My wife and I have had the same seats for our local philharmonic orchestra concerts for the past 20 years, and have gone through several sets of people in the seats next to us. The ones who occupy those now seemed like pleasant enough people when they first came, but during the election of ’08 he showed up sporting an Obama button. Now it is a shocking breach of etiquette to wear any political button in such a setting but I gave him a pass and was still reasonably cordial to them. However, my wife suggested to me that I invite them to join our local Opera Guild, of which I’m president, and I was considering that when, after the election, he showed up with a “Jail Bush” button. That was it. I now speak to them only when spoken to and close out the conversation as soon as possible. And inviting them to anything that I’m involved in is now out of the question!

  39. Artfldgr Says:

    I think the problem here twists on validity.

    you see, if the person debating is a liar, or ulterior motive in the argument, then the intentions are false, but the other person is duped.

    we no longer even question veracity..
    and without that, a rational argument is just a convenient tool, to get a more convenient tool to work for you (for free. maybe even give you money. maybe even fight and die for you)

    who thinks a liar can give a rational argument that has any meaning other than to move you?

    take some time to dream up what changes a sociopathic group would want to make to society so that they are not oppressed any more (and then imagine them moving groups to get what they want over time).

    to return it to a time where such a person could do what they want, and not have to work, etc.

    what should common women become for such (and how would marriage, fecundity, god, monogamy, prevent that)? what should happen to their mates and families if your going to turn them into that?

    how would you then use rational argument, social psychology, taxes, etc?

    something to think about…

  40. Baklava Says:

    Deranged. 🙂

    I’m glad people show their derangement.

    I don’t do business with them.

    My girlfriend at least isn’t deranged. But I know people who are and I interact with them as little as possible.

  41. Artfldgr Says:

    Only not being with any of these groups, can one live a free and independent life (while being told you should pick one)…

  42. Baklava Says:


    I shouldn’t be engaging because it’ll cause 5,000 word essays. 🙂

    Try to keep them short and I’ll read them.

    But you must consider that people have a world view that colors how they see things.

    People are so different.

    Are they ‘lying’ if they speak from their perspective.


    But their perspective is so “off” to us that we can’t relate to them.

    And…. because they see things the way they do – the sources of information they read tend to back them up and enforce their lack of common sense. 🙂

  43. kasper Says:

    Wow Artfidgr, I’m going to have to read that again.

    OK, so Obama said those things, but either he has undergone a personality change and lost a great deal of confidence and conviction or he didn’t write that stuff at all.

    Who are those people who help in his meteoric rise?

    Whoever they are, it was well timed. The masses are significantly dumbed down, and the media ready to fulfill their ultimate purpose instilled by academia.

  44. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I am probably luckier than many of the commenters here – in that my family (or at least my parents) have always been pretty conservative-libertarian, and I live in a town that is simply stiff with retired military and independent-minded people, so most of the people that I meet casually, as well as most of my neighbors are the same. It’s not that I have to bite my tongue a lot in casual conversation in the real world … but online is another matter. I post at a couple of blogs and discussion groups, mostly in support of my writing, and my books, and I really have to dial it back, especially a venue like Open Salon. The part that saddens and worries me is that I am beginning to feel a lot of suppressed anger at those of my acquaintances who went all out for “da One.” As Obama becomes more and more obviously a flat-out disaster, an unsavory, race-baiting, grubby Chicago thug, and more and more things begin to fall apart under his administration – I am getting angrier and angrier at those fools who put him there.
    At some point, I probably will lose it and administer some nuclear-level brutal honesty to one of them, and then the fat will be in the fire, so to speak.
    Wretchard, over at the Belmont Club used to speak of a ‘cold civil war.” I used to think it was an exaggeration, but not any more.

  45. Julia NYC Says:

    Neo, my sympathies go out to you. I am in the same position. My friends and my entire family are liberals. And I was one once too. But I changed in 2008. They haven’t. I used to be quiet about it, but now I’m vocal when the occassion merits, and now everyone is pretty quiet about talking politics. I don’t think these people can be persuaded, it is indeed a religion with them, as most don’t go to church/synagogue their politics has indeed become their identity and their God. My hope is that they will come around on their own, as I did. Certainly nobody persuaded me to go conservative, I figured it out by myself. So, if I of all people can change, I’m sure a lot of other folks can as well. But it’s gotta be an internal thing, they’ve got to figure it out on their own. But it is pretty interesting how they think Obama is fantastic, and doing a great job. I just stare at them, and wonder what planet they are on. And oh they so hate Sarah Palin, especially the women. It’s pretty interesting the vitriol they spew. Bizarre!!! Hang in there.

  46. Scott Says:

    What I have found is that liberals think they are taking the moral high ground. But they only think that because, to paraphrase Reagan, they don’t know what they don’t know.

    I rejected liberalism very early in my life. I was raised in a fairly conservative family. When I went to college Reagan was in the first year of his presidency. Probably no other president in my lifetime has used the words “freedom” and “liberty” as frequently as he did in public speeches. In addition, Milton Friedman was hosting a popular PBS show called “Free to Choose” in which he showed example after example of how profit oriented, market based solutions are the most efficent way for an economy to allocate its finite resources because the profit incentive makes private companies more efficient and government solutions always have some level of fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption associated with them. The one book that probably most influenced me during those formative years was George Guilder’s “Wealth and Poverty”. It was a #1 NYT bestseller for months, if not years. It explained why the free enterprise system is the fairest, most moral, most efficient, most merit based economic system ever devised. It produces more philanthropists, more charities, and more foundations who engage in true altruistic activities to benefit the truly needy in society. One suggestion I have is to read the book, and if you agree with it, suggest it or give it to your liberal friends.

    So the fact I was raised in a conservative family, and influenced by so many conservative thinkers like Reagan, Friedman, Guilder and William F. Buckley at a young age, meant liberalism never had a chance with me.

    I learned that the natural result of more freedom and more liberty is increased prosperity (and from prosperity we derive our security, health, education, and most other stuff that’s important to an improved standard of living). But it wasn’t just a theory, I could see the ideology in real life.

    For example, East Germany and West Germany had similar cultures, language, resources, education levels, etc. when they split. East Germany adopted socialism and went into poverty. West Germany went with free enterprise and prospered.

    Same with Korea. When it split, North and South Korea shared similar cultures, language, and education levels, although North Korea got the sweeter bargain because it also got 75% of the arable land. At the time of the split, Korea was the third poorest country on the planet. 60 years later S. Korea’s citizens have among the highest standards of living in the world, while N. Korea’s economy has been mired in perpetual shambles after adopting socialsim. Same with Taiwan vs China (although China started adopting free market principles 30 years ago and its citizens have seen a spectacular improvement in their standard of lving).

    The perplexing thing is why liberalism survives and why we are embracing it now. The ideology should have died when the USSR died. Mike Pence has said he believes the election of Obama marks the last hurrah for the failed ideology. Let’s hope so for all our sakes.

  47. JohnC Says:

    Steve G said:

    “Insofar as not losing long standing friends, you lost them long ago when you undertook to live a lie. If you can’t agree to disagree then you will sooner or later give them up. Your relationships will become shallow in the extreme and boring.”

    This describes my case pretty closely. An inner push within me toward not living a lie has led to an editing (if you will) of old and new friends. The pattern has been to drift apart if a common ground cannot be found through humor, wit, or an appreciation of the other in some way. For some it has been more than a drift apart. It’s been a severance initiated by me. I simply choose to spend my limited time with more interesting, thoughtful people, although they are few and far in between. I’m luckier than some here – Obamit has brought me and aging parents closer together politically.

    By the way, as I’ve mentioned before, I will drop an auto mechanic, a doctor, a financial adviser, or any other professional or workman / woman that I’ve employed or might employ in a minute if I find out they are part of the Obamit nation. And it is irrelevant to me as to how long I’ve done business with them or how good they are at their work. Call it anger, but I will not knowingly reward Obamits . . . . period.

  48. jms Says:

    Alas, I have become more and more conservative since 9/11, yet my wife is a full liberal/Obama supporter.

    We just cannot talk about politics in any capacity anymore. There is no common ground. We talk about our day, our child, non-political news, our jobs, but not politics. It is very, very difficult to be alienated on something that is so very important to me, and I suspect that she feels the same way.

    I have no other answers. I wish I did.

  49. Harry the Extremist Says:

    When Breitbart inadvertently turned Sherrod into a martyr for the unfairly targeted, I sighed. Now any liberal I have may a discussion concerning allegations of racism among tea partiers has an instant out in having to examine their own bigotry. Not that most liberals Ive conversed with had not found some way to roll themselves out from under a moral or ethical question, but this is why Andrew has to be so very careful.

    In the end I am constantly frustrated with the circular arguments or the appeal to emotion or liberals projecting their own feelings on people or cultures or presuming what other peoples perceptions might be and assigning so much value to them. At the very top of my list of pet peeves is the cognitive dissonance.

    I had an online argument with a couple of liberals concerning “enhanced interrogation techniques” where one moron suggested that Bin Laden could use waterboarding as a motivating tool to make his followers, whom are often known to kill themselves along with their victims, fight harder…

    Im usually left speechless at this level of idiocy whereupon the “progressive” imagines his argument brilliant. Its a loosing battle with these people.

  50. davis,br Says:

    Using rational arguments with a liberal is like teaching a pig to read. It frustrates you and angers the pig.

    Thread winner.

    …as noted, liberalism (for most of its practitioners) isn’t a conscious political artifact, it’s an article of unconscious religious faith.

    …and a brief reflection of history reveals it takes more than mere rational argumentum to make most people question their religion (let alone change it). I think the observation is also accurate that many on the Left simply see – and react to – those on the Right as heretics.

    What to do?

    Well …as Mark Steyn consistently notes, the way to “win” faith arguments is demographics …outbreed ’em …the last man standing, or whistling past the graveyard hypothesis.

    …granted this not devolving into a Godwin’s Law discussion (I joke, I joke).

    On the personal level …I’ve slowly but surely ended up being forced to weed out those friends …coming to the sad realization that becoming a conservative is just “that kind” of life-altering event . Stuff happens. Things change.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

  51. Tamara Says:

    Perhaps the best way to relate to an unfortunately post-rational liberal family member or friend is to get busy and work together on something you both can agree is important when you are together. Make the project and not each other the focus as a strategy. Example: I enjoy the company of a very liberal fellow Catholic when we meet to help cook a meal for the local homeless shelter on a regular revolving schedule. We both may have knives, but we use them on the fruit. We are not actual friends in other circumstances, but then a true close friend is a rare and great blessing, and I think the older we get, liberal or conservative, the more opportunity we have to recognize that is the real case in an adult world — and to learn to cherish those friends we have through the years as true treasures. But sometimes you just have to accept that a relationship is likely limited in nature and go on from there.

  52. Steve Says:

    What to do is probably focus on the younger generation, not your friends or older generations. Our thinking becomes fixed as we age. Our minds have limited capacity for change. If your friends are deluded, they are going to stay deluded. It’s just biology.

  53. kasper Says:

    I once thought that my liberal friends/family, those I am close to and have respect for, eventually realize what is happening to the country that they grew up in, the country that sheltered them so much that they could behave like children even into adulthood.

    Now I think they, and generations to come, will be fine with our destined serfdom.

    It is us, the ‘resistors,’ who will find it intolerable.

    Generations coming won’t know the difference.

  54. Tom Says:

    The common thread here is alienation, us v. them. This is a major stressor on any close relationship. I could not have a significant other with the opposite Weltanschauung. Wretchard’s cold civil war is a fait accompli. It will only heat up, until there is the next 9/11. It will take a major, major catastrophe to change enough liberal minds. In some ways, then, it is needed. I fear if we don’t get that, we will be irreversibly undone from within. What a choice! Blecch.

  55. rickl Says:

    kasper Says:
    July 23rd, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I once thought that my liberal friends/family, those I am close to and have respect for, eventually realize what is happening to the country that they grew up in, the country that sheltered them so much that they could behave like children even into adulthood.

    Now I think they, and generations to come, will be fine with our destined serfdom.

    It is us, the ‘resistors,’ who will find it intolerable.

    Generations coming won’t know the difference.

    That is why it’s so important to control the educational process. I heard a caller on Mark Levin’s show tonight say that her school district has changed the high school history curriculum to cover only the period after Reconstruction. What an amazing coincidence: That means that they will cover only the period of Progressivism. The Founders will disappear down the memory hole.

    We older “resistors” will face gradual attrition via “death panels”, or by more immediate means if necessary.

  56. betsybounds Says:

    Capn Eddie,

    Jay Nordlinger, at National Review, has told tales of attending symphony concerts (as a prominent reviewer, he does that a lot) where conductors have taken to giving political statements and lectures to audiences before and during concerts. Their points-of-view, of course, are uniformly liberal, and sometimes aggressively so (of course the aggressiveness begins with the fact that they would even presume such a pep rally and instruction appropriate in the context of a classical music performance)–never mind that that is not the sort of thing for which people expect to be signing on when they attend such events. I find the most arresting thing about Nordlinger’s reports to be the conductor’s evident assumption that his audience shares his philosophy. How often do we find that? Unhappily, very often–if not always. One of the things I notice about our present discussion is that most all of us speak of situations in which we, the conservatives, are the ones who are expected (or who opt, out of courtesy and desire for comity) to shut up. Liberals can say the most extreme and awful things with impunity, and they assume their opinions to be shared by all those presents. But we conservatives are the ones who self-censor, or who are expected to do so, in the interest of preserving peace. I don’t much do that anymore. I was born on the Fourth of July, and I like fireworks!

    The harder situations are those where the conflicts occur amongst family members. I don’t know quite what to do about it. Part of that is because all of this is so important to me that it’s difficult for me to have any close relationship that can’t tolerate at least some such discussion. Fortunately, I’m in the position of some others here in that my family largely share my views. There are a couple of exceptions, including one of my nephews, who has a PhD in ecology from a major university, and who is now in a tenure-track position and a small private college in New England. He’s a BIG liberal, and we are (fortunately) able to have spirited discussions about these matters in good faith and as an intellectual exercise, no hard feelings afterwards–at least so far! Of course I haven’t yet told him that I think his is a bogus discipline (I have a masters in geology from the “Harvard of the South,” so I feel free to make such a judgment 🙂 ), but I may enlighten him one day! 🙂

    I’m reminded (like Sgt. Mom), also in the spirit of Wretchard and the “cold civil war” to which he referred, that in the actual American Civil War, father was set against son, and brother against brother, in a conflict that nearly tore this nation’s fabric beyond repair. That we have been able to repair it, to some extent anyway (maybe largely superficially), gives me a little more hope than I might otherwise have for our future now.

  57. ahem Says:

    “You see, as a moderate liberal, I had always assumed that liberals believed in “tolerance” of the ideas of others.”

    Mais non. Contemporary liberalism is the child of Jean Jacques Rouseau. Having reached a perfect understanding of life–as he believed–he felt it was incumbent upon him to force the as-yet unenlightened masses and other dullards into the mold, kicking and screaming if need be. For their own good. Nothing has changed. It’s all Rousseau’s fault.

    Liberalism is a secular religion, a matter of belief, not of reason. Thus, the heated resistance to rational argument and even to fact. Becoming a conservative–after the years of brainwashing I endured–resembled a religious conversion. Virtually every friend I have outside of church is a liberal, and, although I love them, I can no longer stand them. They are greatly diminished in my eyes.

  58. Ned Says:

    Believe me…you are not alone. You may not see it…I do…people are changing their minds…en mass.
    You live in a bubble…no offense meant…real America is well aware of the danger…

  59. soupcon Says:

    I think it will be very difficult to maintain any comity with your friends if they see most things through a political prism.Contempt for you and your viewpoint will always be close to the surface,so don’t be suprised if they hurt you unexpectedly.

  60. rickl Says:

    I don’t have much useful advice for talking to people with leftist views. I used to have lots of friends like that when I was a leftist myself, but I have cut off all ties with most of them. They didn’t cut me off; I cut them off.

    My own “change” occurred in the late 90s when I discovered Ayn Rand. I devoured all of her books, both fiction and non-fiction. (I strongly recommend her collections of non-fiction essays.) She was so rational and persuasive that my change experience was actually pretty quick and painless. The light bulb went on in my head, and stayed on.

    I would try to argue her positions with friends, but I’m not so articulate or persuasive in face-to-face conversation. I just can’t compete with people who talk faster and louder than me, and who constantly change the subject. Eventually I just get disgusted and walk away. One of my regrets is not having joined the debating team in high school. I probably would have learned some valuable skills.

    So my circle of friends has shrunken to almost nothing. I still see a couple of them at a bar one evening a week, but we mostly talk about baseball. Their political views have not changed one iota since college. Nowadays I just can’t have political discussions with people who want to enslave me. The fact that they don’t intend that result doesn’t matter. Their voting patterns will ensure it nevertheless.

    Today my best friends are my cats, and I’m not exaggerating.

  61. geran Says:

    “TRUTH” is the answer. Leftist’s cannot stand the truth. For example–even with all the tear-jerking-“polar bears are dying”, the polar bear population has almost tripled since 1960!

  62. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I’ve read, and sometimes participated in lengthy comment threads on various blogs.
    Invariably, liberals get frustrated with what seem like rational arguments and resort to one or more of the following.
    Appeal to emotion.
    Misstate the other’s argument and then attempt to destroy it and the other.
    If, for example, voter fraud is the subject, we hear three things, rethugs use the subject to keep minorities from voting, it isn’t happening, it’s no big deal.
    You go through this long enough and you can’t believe that the liberal discusses anything in good faith.
    Implicit in a discussion is the presumption that being presented with material facts may change one’s opinion. A liberal will make a false assertion. It being pointed out as false, with cites, the opinion doesn’t change but we go to ad homs.
    I have concluded that there are two possibilities with liberals. One is they know what they’re doing and know that they can’t sell it if they let on. So they lie and use other techniques.
    The other is that they think they know what they’re doing, it’s really, really good, and it makes them feel really, really good and any argument that threatens it threatens THEM. They must resist.

  63. rickl Says:

    Addendum to my 9:23 comment:

    I work for a small business, and luckily my boss and his wife are on the same political wavelength with me. My boss is usually too busy to do much reading, but his wife and I often exchange links to good articles we find.

  64. Mike Mc. Says:

    Aristotle dealt with your dilemma in Nicomachean Ethics, on Friendship.

    As he posed it, the question was what happens when one friend grows in virtue (as people should), when the other doesn’t, or even regresses. Aristotle held that people can’t be real (excellent friends) unless they share the same desire for and practice of the virtues.

    He did give a kind of a pass to friends of long-standing, however. They got more time, and more deference than others. Some respect was due what they used to be.

    But he is pretty clear: long term, you’ll be friends with people who are virtuous like you. Look for virtue; you’ll find new friends.

    Liberals are not virtuous people at all. Their great vice, in fact, is thinking that they are. This is like Socrates. He found that the most ignorant and unwise people weer the ones who had a certain kind of intelligence or skill, but then assumed this meant they knew everything. They did not know not ‘what’ they did not know – but ‘that’ they did not know. They were the worst; the most dangerous, and the most costly to society.

    The parallels with contemporary Democrats (99%) are striking and also deeply depressing.

    There is no good to be had playing nice with them though. Evil (that which lacks or perverts good) never returns good for good. It returns evil for good. Only change experiences, slow or fast, can help them.

  65. betsybounds Says:

    Ahem, like you I’m lately very interested in pursuing the connections between Rousseau and contemporary Leftism. It looks to me like they’re very real, very destructive, and very much alive. Rousseau was nothing if not seductive.

    Cats! Oh, bother. Pinch they’ little heads off. Pull they’ tails out. Pfui! 🙁 🙂

  66. Mike Mc. Says:


    Try Bloom’s Closing of the Western Mind for the pernicious influence of Rousseau.

  67. Janemarie Says:

    Glad to see this post and the many thoughtful comments on it. I think alot about how I might change some minds, and don’t have any easy answers, but here are are some observations:

    I am fortunate to have a husband who is an articulate conservative and we are of like minds on most issues; if you want to “take someone on”, try not to do it alone. We have, over several years, developed a small circle of friends who are also conservative–this, in the great true-blue state of Washington! We have, at times, had heated discussions about politics at social outings in our neighborhood and elsewhere. I don’t flatter myself that we changed any liberal minds, but we have been working on a self-described “moderate” neighbor for a while. I would suggest that we need to go after moderates if we can find them, first, because the leftiest liberals are never going to change their minds, and secondly because it is the voting moderates who decide elections.

    My “moderate” neighbor trotted out the “Bush=Hitler” meme at a party one time (really a liberal talking point in my view) and I let him have it. I was quite blunt that this was to trivialize the tremendous evil of Hitler, and was an incredibly ignorant statement. Another time he questioned why America should support Israel (versus Palestine) and my husband ably demolished him on that topic. Interestingly, this man really doesn’t like to be called “liberal”, but I think his opinions really reflect a liberal mindset (or perhaps a mind that gets its information from just CNN, MSNBC and Time magazine).

    But much of the time we don’t bring up politics in family or social gatherings at all, unless we know everyone present is conservative. Nor have I heard a liberal family member or acquaintance bring up Obama or politics in a long time. One key thing is to keep your cool; these liberals have been spoon-fed stuff about how hateful conservatives and Republicans are, so consider your cool and friendly temperament a way to confound them! I am also assembling a file of articles about the dreadful policies of Obama that I hope to have handy to share in case I encounter a slightly open liberal mind, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen!

  68. Richard Cook Says:

    My extended family are all liberals who view Obama as the second coming of Christ and he can do no wrong. We do not communicate. At all. They were continually trying to shove shit down my throat and I punched back twice as hard. The breaker was when someone said something about Obama being the greatest President in history and I shot back “he’s going to be the worst President since James Buchanan.” Instant icy silence and my attitude of daring them to say something. They are gone and good riddance. Politics as religon does not work.

  69. rickl Says:

    Heh. He already makes James Buchanan look like George freaking Washington.

  70. geran Says:

    okay, i’m going to start commenting as artfldgr. (I’m surprised this clown is not limited to 100 words or less, but then….here goes)

    The end is not as we think we sometimes envision. Often the blue drummers care more than the beach dreams. Real estate is not as much as a kitchen as a crisis, fully in front of us. I don’t speak as a stone-age guy, but as a new-age guy, orbiting professorially above the Austrailian outback.

    Be wide awake, lest we all face the ultimate operation, with the surgeons cutting out our vital innards. Not certainly for sure, lest we question, yet “manana” haunts us. Therefore, the enlightened forward us their wealth. (But do you think a move will help?)

    The answer is to hear the call of the river. Unlikely as it appears, move to the land of our ancesters, feel the understanding of the wind, and the reason of our body. Traveling up to the clouds, we eject outwardly the beneficial. To help people find their soul, that is the fundemental challenge.

    Do not live in the dead. Instead, treat the superficial as a motivational disfunction. (Discribe a marginal dream as a healing adventure.)

    Save your job, save your marriage, but forfeit your future. Be a human being, active with dreams, in every environment. This is not an end, but a beginning. You can order a pizza, or reorder your life, the cell-site cares not. (It must be the electrons.)

    Nevertheless, we grow beyond our expectations. Much like the eagle, we represent both State and Federal congresses. And what about State Governors? Yeah, them too–along with Donald Trump.

    And, are we insured for any of this? Wonderful, you say! Let me offer logical events to time your feelings. The largest of which pleases me (who I am). Shout our your newest chats, lest any view them. Bubble’s is not a cover, it’s the guard.

    Blue collar, or blue “caller”, (or blew color), we all must live together. Seriously, an extreme view is also an extreme vue. There is no “hate” paradise. Sweet dreams mirror our future preparations. How far does our future go? The native technologies tell us to wake up. What better source do we have?

    Tell me what needs to be done. She is bigger than my dream body. A huge cloud becomes a carrot. A nightmare is a gift of foolish mind triggers. Rise up to the overflow of elder foam.

  71. Occam's Beard Says:

    Couple of observations and suggestions.

    First, don’t bother with the typical mindless liberals who adopt positions because they want someone of higher status to sign their yearbooks. Even talking with them is a waste of time. Look for signs that the person can think for himself a bit, and at least in some matters tries to comport himself by principle rather than tribal allegiance.

    Second, don’t go straight at them. Use the Socratic method. Address the broad principle at issue, but first state it in abstract terms, divorced from the specifics of a given incident. Get their agreement to what the controlling principle should be. Then move from the abstract general case to the concrete specific one, and press them to commit to their take on the incident before knowing the political/racial/sexual affiliations of the dramatis personae. After all, those variables shouldn’t matter, right? Lock them in on their viewpoint (“You’re sure, then? There are no circumstances in which you’d countenance/ denounce X?) Be sure to get this chiseled into stone before proceeding.

    Then relate some news item with political signifiers verbally redacted. (This drives liberals crazy, because they don’t know which way to jump.) For a (too) topical example, ask them if they agree that free and fair elections are critical to our democracy. Then ask their reaction to, for example, men in paramilitary garb standing before a polling place inquiring as to the voting intentions of those entering. Prepare two relevant cases of such, one left- and one right-wing (in this case, the New Black Panther Party incident, and perhaps a KKK, Aryan Nations, or American Nazi Party one), so you can wrong-foot them either way. The point is not to play “gotcha,” but rather to illustrate to them that they are not applying the controlling principle – to which they agreed – uniformly. Only those applying the principle non-uniformly can be wrong-footed. In this case, if they defend the practice, thinking that you’re going for the New Black Panther Party case, you can raise an eyebrow and say, “Really? I’d have thought you’d have more of a problem with the American Nazi Party. I do.” Fill them in on the details, and then walk away. This last serves two functions: it minimizes their discomfiture – which, if you remain, will make them truculent and intrasigent, to protect their egos – and it gives them time to think. Thinking is the key.

    Third, don’t expect a Damascene conversion. The best you can do is plant the seed of leftist apostasy, then withdraw and let it take root. Less is more.

  72. betsybounds Says:

    Mike, I wonder whether you might mean The Closing of the American Mind. I read it years ago, back in, oh, 1989 or so, but forget a lot of it. I’ll go back and have another look. Thanks for the tip. I’m also looking at a few others in my library, Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence and Simon Schama’s Citizens. But I’m sure there are many more.

    Richard Cook: While I agree with what you say in many ways, it occurs to me that the problem with politics as religion is that, in too many cases, (ahem) it does work!

    At least in an uncomfortably large number of cases.

  73. Darius Says:

    @JMS – I’m sorry . I know people in that position (wife went from mildly pro-Bush to VERY pro Obama) …. the guy deals with it quietly, but painfully. When he can, he slips in stuff like “The incredibles” and tries to emphasize personal responsibility, freedom, etc. from a philosophical point of view without dragging current issues in at all.

  74. Richard Cook Says:

    I get you betsy. You are right.

  75. expat Says:

    betsybounds, there is a huge link between Rousseau and the leftist ecology movement here in Germany, but it also extends into other areas. There was a very famous Islam expert, Annemarie Schimmel, who influenced the attitudes of all intellectuals as well as the direction of Islamic studies. Interestingly, when she died a few years ago, some coverage of her life mentioned her romanticization of Muslims. I don’t know her work or whether she ever linked to Rousseau directly, but it sounds like the noble savage concept must have been at work.

    BTW, if you don’t like cats, how about a cute little porcupine?

  76. Steve Ducharme Says:

    I haven’t read many of the comments so this may have been covered.

    I get “Socratic” with my Lib friends. I never start a political conversation but when confronted with one that I find unreasonably left leaning I start asking questions an look for opportunities to either pigeon hole them with their own ideas or nudge then to new possibilities. The fact that I am usually armed with much stronger facts than them doesn’t hurt. I’m sure NEVER raise my voice or change my disposition and I stop the tactic when it’s clear they don’t want to continue.

    I try to end it with a question for them to ponder and return to a non-political topic. I don’t know that I’ve converted anyone but I’ve caused more than a few to open up a little.

  77. Steve Ducharme Says:

    Sorry spelling errors galore there. Too tired tonight.

  78. Darius Says:

    @janemarie – yeah. I get the “It’s just from a right-wing hate site” instead of addressing the truth or falsity a LOT.

  79. neo-neocon Says:

    betsybounds: re concerts, etc., see this.

  80. geran Says:

    I forgot to mention (a la “artfldgr”) that combat flatterings will not end all pain. Minutes later, debts listen even as scores are exposed.

    If you have questions, the answers are allowed only if you can guess the correct response. The provision is not to prevail, so much as to be responsible. This is not to be confused with high levels of National agency tests.

    Analysis will move forward, along with the physical and meteorological highs, based on family considerations. Visit a better area of rejection if rest is not your leading spirit.

    Talking with an alien is much like talking with prehistoric Egyptian, how well we know. Significant reception is more like a patented disaster than a world-wide radio. A gas can full of air will not fuel your lawnmower.

    Visit the most powerful moss you will find in the Carolinas, and you will truly understand evolution. Scientific writers (mostly professing to be fiction writers) reveal infant rehearsals of skills that explain all questions. When is the next “Big Bang” coming, for example.

    Find the fish, find the spiders, find the sea, find the communties, before they are all taxed out of existense. (How many choose to prefer “existence”? But, do I weave between the lanes too much?)

    The point is–too dull to rub against the stone. Does your pulse stop? Hello…..

  81. Promethea Says:

    All my friends and family members are liberals. Without the internet and blogs like Neo-neocon, Belmont Club, Ace of Spades, and several others, I would despair. However, the internet has opened new worlds to me so I know that there are still many people in America who value free enterprise, freedom, and the Constitution.

    Richard Aubrey @9:45 pm gives a good list of liberal talking points. When I do talk to a liberal I pay attention to their short supply of debating tricks. It’s pretty limited.

  82. Doom Says:

    The only liberals I have been able to speak to about… well, anything… have been ones who are teetering on the brink. Those who know something is terribly wrong and are seeking what, and open to actually actively investigate. Still, it is much like pulling teeth. For my part, it is worth the effort. Even the attempt fails, my skills become much better. My deal is this, tit for tat. You say this, prove it or show some significant positive points which negate some of my points, and I will do the same.

    For the lib zombies? Forgetaboutit. You might as well try to convince a N.K. civilian even that America is actually good. They are so entrenched that even if somehow they believed you, they could no more say it then they could fly to the moon on silvery wings of joy. Those people will have to be cracked by economic, civil, and social realities which are about to crush us. I just hope we politically survive the civil chaos which will follow, as a free nation.

  83. Occam's Beard Says:

    My “moderate” neighbor trotted out the “Bush=Hitler” meme at a party one time (really a liberal talking point in my view) and I let him have it. I was quite blunt that this was to trivialize the tremendous evil of Hitler, and was an incredibly ignorant statement.

    Janemarie, if I might make a suggestion, in this sort of scenario it’s better to ask questions rather than make assertions. (Yeah, I know – it’s hard to do, and I regularly violate my own advice when I’m in a testy mood. On the other hand, I have managed – so far – not to strangle people parroting such mindless drivel, so I get some credit for that.)

    Solicit information: “I see, you think Bush is like Hitler. Interesting. In what respect or respects do you mean?”

    People saying mindless things like this are usually taken aback by the query, which they did not expect and for which they are therefore generally unprepared. They’ll commonly splutter something about “unjust war” or “international law” or some such. Drill down on whatever they offer.

    “Unjust war? What would constitute a ‘just’ war, then?” They’ll usually say something about being invaded, or the like.

    “So a country (depersonalize and emotionally desiccate the issue as much as possible, hence ‘country,’ rather than ‘America’) is only justified in waging war once it has actually been attacked?” At this point they’ll usually look like a dog getting a bath, as the realization dawns that they’re on a losing wicket, as the Brits would say. “How big an attack? What if the attack was only in prospect, but figured to be catastrophic in its impact if it were concluded?”

    Then press them to apply their criterion to historical circumstances. If FDR (aalways good to pick a liberal icon for this) had known in time of Pearl Harbor, would you have had him just wait? Suppose FDR hadn’t known-known, but had substantial reason to suspect, based on intelligence reports (a more real-world scenario)? If you or a loved one had been, say, a crewman on the USS Arizona, how would you feel about FDR using you or him in this fashion? (For Israelophile Jews, ask them if Israel was justified in a pre-emptive strike to open the Six-Day War, and, if so, how they reconcile their different positions in the two instances.) Segue into the President’s Constitutional oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, ask them to reconcile a President’s allowing an attack with his Constitutional oath.

    And then the killer: “So if Bush had waited, and intelligence reports to hand were sound, and New York was vaporized, you’d have defended Bush’s decision? You wouldn’t have taken him to task for failing in his oath, or for ignoring the considered intelligence analyses of not only our agencies, but also those of the Western European powers? How is the President to know, a priori, which intelligence assessments to believe and which to discount?”

  84. Old Dad Says:

    I have no idea how to talk politics with liberals, and so I don’t, and I’ve been able to keep most of my liberal friends. Most I met in professional or charitable environments where ability and character shine through. We respected one another before we liked one another. Over time we knew each others’ political persuasions almost by osmosis because the subject never came up. My liberal friends aren’t terribly ideological. My sense is that liberalism is simply part of their identities. In most practical matters we’re often in lock step. They are sensible, entrepreneurial, hard headed when they need to be, and hard working. And they are unfailingly polite. Over the years, we’ve come to laugh about it. I believe them to be patriots, and they are certainly no fools; well, except, perhaps, in one regard. My libertarian streak urges me to leave them be when it comes to politics.

  85. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Old Dad.
    Laudable of you. Who did they vote for?

  86. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    This discussion recalls my lamentations here some weeks ago about my brother and his wife. They are good, hard-working people who live their lives by conservative values but vote the liberal line. They see the dems as wanting to make things more fair. No amount of pointing out all the reasons why liberal policies don’t work, haven’t worked, (East/West Germany, North/South Korea, China/Taiwan, Chile under Allende, Peru under Garcia, Argentina under Peron, etc. etc.) and never will work unless we perfect human nature, has changed their thinking.

    My conclusion: Reason and facts don’t work. They don’t seem able to grasp the concept of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. I recognize that Smith’s idea is not easily discerned without some mental work. That’s what I loved about Milton Friedman. He made the free market concepts easy to understand. Not only that, he was jovial and even-handed when debating other economists. We lost a giant of economic freedom when he died.

    My brother and his wife also seem unable to bridge the gap between what has happened in other countries and how it could happen here. There seems to be a magical belief that the policies of big government and big government spending do not really affect the average American. They believe it is only about helping those less fortunate than themselves.

    It is a conundrum to me that I can’t get them to see that which is obvious to me. It’s informative that so many of us are grappling with the same problem. Does this indicate that a democratic republic cannot exist long term because of conflicting views of economic and political reality? I hope it isn’t the case.

  87. Occam's Beard Says:

    “Fairness” is an equivocal concept.

    Fair with respect to what variable? Is it fair that some people are born better looking, wealthier, brighter, better-connected, or just plain luckier than others? And to the extent that life is unfair, what should we do to rectify the situation? Was life fair to Christopher Reeve? To Barack Obama?

    People who invoke “fairness” in the abstract betray a childlike simplicity.

  88. wormme Says:

    In my early years I believed that emotion was the greatest danger to reason. That was wrong. Social desires are the main cause of irrationality.

    Think about your earliest days socializing with peers. How many times did you swallow observations that you knew your buds would not appreciate? Now imagine spending decades as a true “socialist”. IE, you value social acceptance above all else.

    Well, you become less a member of a pack, or a herd, and more a member of a hive. Your mind is dedicated to reasoning FROM conclusions, not to them. You decide what is socially acceptable, then rationalize and justify backwards from the end point.

    You end up with people that are about as thoughtful as a bent knee being tapped by a rubber mallet.

  89. jon baker Says:

    WOW-Neo linked to an article by Tom Tancredo! You truly are on the dark side now Neo! Thats a man that has previously caught the attention of the Mexican government for opposing their colonization plans! during the primaries, I had decided that Tancredo or Hunter would be my choice on the ballot. But they both dropped out by the time of the Texas Primaries .

  90. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Baklava said, “‘Fairness’ is an equivocal concept.”

    Yep, but the issue is pitched as social justice. Who isn’t in favor of social justice? Yes, that’s also a concept that is equivocal, but it resonates with a lot of people. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have a bunch of progressives, socialists, or whatever other collectivist group we can name.

    There is presently a commercial for a bank running on TV and it uses the concept of fair treatment as its selling point. The commercials all show an adult giving treats to one child and not another. I don’t know if that resonates with many people, but obviously the ad people must believe it taps into something that runs deep in our culture. Although it’s a nebulous concept, it seems to be a powerful attractor to some people. How else do we explain all those “bleeding heart” liberals? Or is it as Artfldgr opines; fairness has nothing to do with it? Is it power that they want but use the fairness concept to attract empathetic people? If so, how do we convince those who duped by the concept to open their eyes?

  91. Tarragon Rose Says:

    I don’t think anything turns people off more quickly and irrevocably than the “Socratic” method of asking manipulative questions. I get it a lot from students trying to convert me to some religion or other, and occasionally from liberals, and I simply refuse to play along. That kind of approach makes people feel trapped and controlled, and naturally they resent it.

  92. Occam's Beard Says:

    Who isn’t in favor of social justice?

    I’m not. There’s justice, and injustice. “Social justice” or “any modifier here justice” is bullshit agitprop.

    I don’t think anything turns people off more quickly and irrevocably than the “Socratic” method of asking manipulative questions.


    The cognitively gifted typically respond well to the Socratic method, hence its use in Oxbridge. Others, not so much.

  93. Ilíon Says:

    Jms:Alas, I have become more and more conservative since 9/11, yet my wife is a full liberal/Obama supporter.

    I have no other answers. I wish I did.

    The only thing I can think of that might work at bringing you closer together is to not talk about the end-result (the policies, or the politicians), but to start the discussion from the beginning: to discuss first principles, and build on agreement. And, move very slowly.

  94. Ilíon Says:

    Steve:… Our thinking becomes fixed as we age. Our minds have limited capacity for change. If your friends are deluded, they are going to stay deluded. It’s just biology.

    That’s so untrue — you’ve swallowed one of the favoréd tropes of the “liberals.”

  95. wormme Says:

    Are we to infer that non-Socratic arguers DON’T ask manipulative questions?

    That “trapped and controlled” feeling from the Socratic method is from being held to the constraints of reason and logical consistency.

    No doubt those “limitations” feel suffocating to people inexperienced in them.

    Of course, the respondant to a series of Socratic questions must be permitted to give the questioner the same Socratic interrogation.

    Or as the apostle said, “Come, let us reason together.”

  96. Lessons from A Connecticut Yankee on how to talk to a liberal — Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian Says:

    […] is pondering how to talk to liberals tonight. I’m struck by her saying her liberal friends accused her of going over to the dark […]

  97. Ilíon Says:

    My thoughts exactly on those who are “alienated” by Socratic questioning.

    And, I’m pretty sure the God himself is recorded in the OT as saying to men: “Come, let us reason together.”

  98. br549 Says:

    Tragically, it is simple to me. There is absolutely nothing a democrat, liberal, progressive, communist, etc., could say to me that would ever sway me from being a conservative republican type; to swing in their direction at all. There are many areas I disagree with libertarians, and many where I agree with them. I do not expect to change their minds any more than they will change mine.
    As the middle child of five, children of Catholic, New England democrats, but born and raised in east VA, two of my siblings are democrats, two are republican. Friends and acquaintances are almost equally split. Except for blogs, politically, I have become a hermit in a cave except at the ballot box.

    What I do expect is a conservative sweep in the upcoming elections and a lot of acting out in the aftermath.

    It remains my belief that the republican ticket did not want to win the last presidential election, except for Palin, and is why they did not. Everyone inside the belt way and in state capitol circles knew all this was coming down. Only the democrats thought there was any profit in it.

  99. Tatyana Says:

    Tarragon Rose: agree. It is rude to employ interrogation method to your co-conversationalist. A person who does that implies the role of a benevolent teacher, ordained with universal knowledge, patiently “nudging” (in fact, pushing) the pupil to conclusion.
    When the pupil is your 5 yo child, that might work – but even in that case, not for long. Children have an acute sense of bullying condescension, even if camouflaged in neutral tone and expressions.

    When your adversary is a leftist with all accompanying traits that usually imply (see all 100 comments above for description) – and you employ this “Socratic” tactic the conversation becomes a bullying contest. And I’m inclined to say, you will not look better than your opponent – simply more covert in your attempt of manipulation. Both of you will have no respect for the other or his/her views, only you will congratulate yourself on being “on the side of reason” – while achieving nothing more than other’s disdain for your tactic that (s)he will further [negatively] associate with the content of your argument.

  100. Tatyana Says:

    *rickl: cats? I would’ve thought you a dog man.

    *betsy: pfui it is!

  101. schaffman Says:

    Political opinions on both sides are becoming vitriolic and deply entrenched. I read an interview with satirist Tom Lehrer a few years back. When asked what types of humorous songs he’d write about George W. Bush, he said he didn’t want to write anything about Bush…he wanted to kill Bush.
    That’s scary. But I have to confess, when I see Nancy Pelosi bushing off questions about the constitutionality of the laws her House is passing with “You’re kidding, right?” I want to see her hanged. (After a fair trial for sedition, of course.)
    The point is I fear our country is on the brink of a terrible cataclysim. When opinions are this harsh and the divisions so deep, things cannot end well.

  102. colagirl Says:

    *Sigh.* I feel your pain, neo. My father is an unthinking liberal/leftist, and I used to be too, but I un-drunk the Kool-Aid in 2004. It has definitely caused strains in our relationship, to the point where we cannot discuss politics anymore. I wish I knew what to do other than bite my tongue.

  103. ahem Says:

    You’re right: things can not end well.

  104. kasper Says:

    I admit to, just recently, wishing ill will on some of the more odious Democrat leadership. Never before was inclined to think that way. I guess I should feel guilty.

    But they started it, it’s their schtik — and after years of it, I’m done.

  105. Cappy Says:

    Pretty much don’t communicate with liberal family or (former) friends. Facebook is great for telling them they are full of shizzle without saying as much. No need for much politics there. Just “like” pro-American groups and pages. And Clint Eastwood.

  106. stan Says:


    [sorry if someone else pointed this out. I haven’t read all 78 comments]
    Krauthammer was right — the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil.

    Anyone reading the climategate e-mails or the Journolist comments can see it. They read like comments at Kos or the Dem Underground.

    American politics isn’t an argument about policies as much as it is a fundamental disconnect regarding the character of people we don’t know. Liberals start with the basic premise that corporations are evil and unions are good. Government workers are motivated by the public good except for the military which is evil.

    In their fantasy, Democrats care about people (everything really, they are all about love). Republicans are selfish, mean-spirited, hate-filled, racist, sexist, homophobes bent on exploiting workers, abandoning the poor, raping the planet, and promoting war. Unless they are stupid, bitter clingers fooled by evil GOP masterminds into voting against their own best interests.

    Very important note — these descriptions are not the result of observation and deduction. They are the starting points for life. Facts don’t get in the way. They can’t.

    So your question boils down to this — how do you talk rationally to someone who thinks you are the personification of evil? Answer — you don’t. Because their minds are made up. Anything Democrats do or propose is better than anything the GOP does or proposes by virtue of the battle of good vs. evil. No matter how corrupt, dishonest or illegal the Democrats are they are better than the GOP because they care and the GOP is evil. By definition.

  107. jhankey Says:

    This general discussion has been ongoing since the Grachii of Rome, probably much longer. The philosophical underpinnings are important, but not necessarily in dealing with these people. Fearlessness and cheerfulness in expousing your side confounds them the most. An example; At the bar I frequent I was seated next to a table of state workers. Obviously upper management, but stereotypical, discrete ponytails,etc. One was going on about “the Man”, when I informed him ” you are the Man”, his look was priceless.

  108. Judith L Says:

    I made the journey from Left to Right in the late 80’s when I began teaching research design and writing. Funny thing was that no lights went on when I was taking all the statistics and research classes for my Ph.D. One little flicker came on in connection with my dissertation research, but I compartmentalized it. But teaching my students how to critically evaluate social “science” research destroyed the foundation for all the domestic agenda I had bought into.

    I lost a lot of friends. Some just drifted away. Some confronted me angrily. One friend chastised me for reading The Closing of the American Mind–I hadn’t even “turned” at the time.

    I have about 4 very liberal friends and most of the women I knit with are libs. But my best knitting buddy is a true blue conservative. My sister and her husband had O signs all over the place before the election. I made an agreement with my sister NEVER to discuss politics. And I don’t. I don’t talk politics EVER with ANY of my Leftist friends. Currently some of them are in a froth over the neo-nazi group “patrolling” the border of Arizona. But they have no concern over the administration taking over more and more of the private sector.

  109. John Says:

    My brother is a bluest of blue liberal democrat. He has never said it but I am pretty sure he would proudly call himself a Yellow Dog democrat. After several heated ‘discussions’ we have come to the unspoken conclusion that it is better to stay away from any discussion of politics and how politicians are screwing the country.

    Which is fine, I love my brother. Even if he is completely unhinged in his belief system. 😉

    And I haven’t asked him ‘Have you had enough of that Hope & Change yet’?

  110. Occam's Beard Says:

    Wormme and Ilion, thank you. I agree entirely with each of your comments. In candor I was a bit annoyed to have Socratic questioning characterized as manipulative, when it is in fact a critical tool of intellectual analysis. The idea of a Socratic dialogue is not to manipulate one’s interlocutor, but rather in the first instance to teach him to think by leading him to recognize logical inconsistencies, and ultimately to internalize the Socratic thought process so he uses it on himself (“what exactly do I mean by …?”) to minimize their recurrence.

  111. Tim P Says:

    “I cannot suddenly desert them, and I don’t think I should. “

    Neo, I know it’s not an easy thing but with all due respect ask yourself if you really want these narrow minded, intolerant people as your friends?
    Ask yourself, who deserted who here?

    You need not make a big point of severing ties and such related drama, just move on & go about your life. You have to do what’s right for you and who needs the unnecessary stress?

    If they eventually come around, fine welcome them back with open arms, if not, was it really a loss?

    As for making new friends, I bet you can if you try. You might surprise yourself and find some ‘new’ friends whom you prefer over the old ones. Perhaps not wanting to have to face the reality of bad initial choices contributes to your reluctance to try?

    Any way, good luck.

  112. Occam's Beard Says:

    I also hit up liberal wobblers – i.e., potential defectors in place – by personalizing issues for them, because many liberals hew to principles in the abstract that are repugnant to them in practice. (This is the obverse side of the coin referred to above, of cases where liberals espouse sound principles in the abstract but fail to apply them in practice.)

    For example, a squishy liberal semi-apolitical friend in Oakland who has marinated in the local politics all his life is also very concerned about money – specifically, his. Light touches on liberal tax and spend policies (e.g., that Oakland police reportedly average $162,000/y, and now list 40-something crimes to which they will not even respond, and the effect of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts) are hitting home.

    An acquaintance who lost his senior management job at a public transportation utility responds to comments regarding public sector unions, with which he had to deal, and whose pay demands ultimately cost him his job (by requiring belt-tightening to meet them).

    Still, in both cases it’s like water dripping on a rock. No dramatic changes of heart. Just drip…drip…drip…

    Patience. Patience.

  113. Tim P Says:

    br459 said,

    “It remains my belief that the republican ticket did not want to win the last presidential election, except for Palin, and is why they did not. Everyone inside the belt way and in state capitol circles knew all this was coming down. Only the democrats thought there was any profit in it.”

    I have to agree with you about the part that the insiders knew what was coming down. In my opinion, the real divide in this country is not between left and right, or liberal & conservative, or democrat and republican.

    The real divide is between the political elite and the rest of the citizenry. I have thought for a longtime that the difference between the parties was similar to the difference of five minutes before mid-night versus five minutes after mid-night.

    The real difference is between those who believe in the rights of the individual over what is best for society ‘as a whole.’ The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The belief that individual rights are inalienable, not negotiable. Between limited government which serves the citizens versus citizens who must serve the government. That’s why the tea-party is so vilified. It’s also why Pailin was so viciously attacked. She was not of the ‘elite.’ Nor did she try to ape them or suck up to them.

  114. Ilíon Says:

    Many people actively resist thinking in a logically consistent manner. Generally because the conclusions which derive from thinking in a logically consistent manner are not the conclusions at which they wish to arrive.

    And many other people attempt to make “niceness” or “civility” or some-such out to be the supreme value, far above a commitment to truth — and making a conscious effort to always think in a logically consistent manner is a corollary to the commitment to truth as the supreme value.

    Thus, the person making a conscious effort to always think in a logically consistent manner, making as few assumptions as possible, and making clear the assumptions in use, tends to be beset by two sets of foes:
    1) those who have a vested interest in persons or society thinking in logically in consistent manners;
    2) those who will automatically attack him for “incivility” as soon as the first set starts pouting about his insistence upon logical reasoning (and never mind any actual incivility that the first group may well have initiated);
    And, of course, there is overlap between the two groups.

  115. Ilíon Says:

    … on logic and truth:

    Reasoning logically cannot guarantee that one arrives at truth; for after all, if one’s assumptions are false, then one’s fully logical conclusion cannot be other than false.

    Reasoning illogically cannot but lead one to falsehood. And, if perchance one does happen land on truth, it is quite by accident and has no rational connection to the reasoning.

  116. James Says:

    Hi Neo,

    After half a life-time of dealing with these things, I think I have a few points to offer:

    1) As an informed conservative, you are in a “wholistic” position – despite liberal use of that word. By that I mean, you know just about everything liberals know, plus you know everything conservatives know, and you come to your conclusions based on the balance.

    Liberals, however, only know half the story. The other half of the story is very scarey to them, so they skip that part. So one point of entry, if politics ever comes up, is to point out the gaps in their knowledge once in a while. If you do so politely, and they reject it, that is all you can do.

    2) Speaking to liberals can’t be done using conservative terms that we understand. Words like liberty and freedom and free markets have completely different meaning to them. It only intensifies the chasm. They are unable to bridge the chasm, so it is up to you. Bridging the chasm means starting on their side and working your way back.

    Working your way back starts with three paradigms which liberals carry around in their head. You have to start with one of their paradigms, in order to work back.

    A) The “Holistic” paradigm. The world is holistic and everything fits together. Violence is bad, killing animals is violent, eating animals is bad for your health, raising animals for food is polluting and harms the environment. “You see, the world is ‘holistic'”.

    You start by explaining the holistic argument in a way that they agree with, and then depending on how they react, you explain that the world is not holistic, it is paradoxical. Animal products are not bad for you, but you do have to be violent to the animal to get the meat. Government is violent, but we need violence to enforce the rules so we can live in peace. You can probably come up with many examples explaining why the world is paradoxical, not holistic.

    B) The “non-violent” paradigm. This says: if we all just reject violence as a way of solving conflict, we can have a peaceful world full of equality and love. This also fits with the ‘holistic’ paradigm above.

    If any person expresses this paradigm, you might ask them. “Given your expression of non-violence, would it violate your principles to take a job as a police officer?”. To that they will probably answer yes (or get mad). Your next question would be “When you see some crime happening, do you call the police?” Then they will get mad, and you say “I was just trying to explain your confusion”. Notice that well intentioned people can be confused, so you aren’t attacking their motives.

    If by some miracle, if they ask what you think, you say. “Government has to enforce the rules of society, which entails the threat of violence in extreme circumstances. Politics is about what those rules should be and when the violence should be used, which makes politics inherently contentious and unresolvable”.

    3) The “communal” paradigm. When we form a communal organization, and give to it, and take from it as appropriate, that is virtuous. When we get our money through working for someone or to create value for someone, and then spend the money to get something, that is not virtuous. Thus communal organizations are virtuous and private organization for profit are not. Exceptions can be made for certain very small organizations – like a local coffee shop.

    This is the reason why Obama killed the private voucher program in DC. It is also the reason Health Savings Accounts were killed by Obama in the health care bill. Communal organizations are virtuous, are not based on greed, and so must be created wherever possible.

    This entails the government collecting taxes, then sending the money to communal organizations, which then provides things for people who need them.

    The conservative paradigm says that it is better to give money to poor people (when necessary) as vouchers or special accounts. We believe this mostly because that creates customers who then create the information and incentives necessary to have the organizations run well. “As a liberal, you reject customers as a method to regulate organizations and society – but customers are essential to run society – so your solutions don’t work well”.


    I don’t know if this sheds any light, but in general, if you are going to talk to liberals about politics, you have to be empathetic enough to start at their place and then walk with them, where possible, back to somewhere else.


  117. JohnC Says:

    elite vs the rest of the citizenry: well articulated Tom P. Thanks.

  118. ahem Says:

    We also have to remember that our friends and relatives who vote liberal, or regard themselves as liberal, are usually wonderful, loving people who have accepted uncritically the media narrative and cultural zeitgeist. Relatively few are commited Leftists–they wouldn’t recognize a marxist if one forced socialized medicine down their throats. They are just very nice people who through habit, or fashion, or personality, or intellectual laziness don’t know what the hell is going on around them.

  119. Occam's Beard Says:

    We also have to remember that our friends and relatives who vote liberal, or regard themselves as liberal, are usually wonderful, loving people

    So are children, to whom they bear more than a passing similarity.

  120. jon baker Says:

    I suspect many of those “elites” people are referring to above also realize the end goal is world government, at least all the western world formed into one government. Some have left strong hints in that regard. The whole global warming treaty attempts being one such tool.

    In the US, the power must be pulled from the States and the People so that it can be given away to the new government they want.

    “”There are a lot of very brilliant people
    who believe that the nation-state
    is fast becoming a relic of the past.” : Bill Clinton


  121. Occam's Beard Says:

    Ilion, great comments.

    Re the “niceness” or “civility” reproach, I periodically contemplate intentionally blowing it out, just so as not to allow leftists and their liberal retainers to frame issues in these emotional terms, and making a hard-headed analysis off-limits because it leads to conclusions that are not “nice.”

    To this end I’m coming around to taking an extreme tack, viz., when someone advocates something to “help the poor,” I’m considering replying, “Eff the poor. They’re parasites sucking the blood of the prudent, the productive and the industrious. They need to pull their own weight, and accept responsibility for their decisions and their lives. The poor generally are such because they have consistently made lousy decisions.”

    I haven’t actually done this (and don’t entirely subscribe to the sentiment), and wouldn’t do it with someone I was trying to convert. I have thought about it, however, because it prevents leftists/liberals from playing “compassion” as a trump card, much like “racism,” and reopens the debate on the role of personal responsibility – which is one we need to have. And someone has to get the first pickle out of the jar.

  122. Ilíon Says:

    Ahem:… Relatively few are commited Leftists–they wouldn’t recognize a marxist if one forced socialized medicine down their throats. They are just very nice people who through habit, or fashion, or personality, or intellectual laziness don’t know what the hell is going on around them.

    Surely. But it’s also true that they tend to actively resist learning about and thus knowing what the hell is going on around them.

    Rather than making the best effort they can to think rationally, logically, critically, they insist upon thinking magically … and the tend to *hate* you for attempting to banish their warm-and-fluffy comfortable magic with the cold light of hard-edged reason.

  123. Steve G Says:

    To thine own self be true!

    The fact that one’s conservatism becomes known to friends and family is NOT a cause for you to end any relationship, at least for that reason alone. I find that I have a better sense of humor than my liberal co-workers and family members and we can all laugh together at any number of things, so I just don’t volunteer to raise issues that I know are conversation stoppers. I have found that I am accepted as a human being, just one that is strange. And, if the conversation is about sports or work, nothing untoward happens. Everyone gets along just fine.

    But, when a liberal mouthes a typically stupid liberal talking point (and, where do these stupid ideas come from? the Journo-list?) which is clear has not been thought through (just like pre-chewed Charlie’s, where the steak you order comes pre-chewed), I respond logically. One of the more stupid of the newer liberal talking points that was directed my way recently was that the good liberal speaking to me proudly stated that he did not have any history nor did he look backward in addressing how best to address important social issues. The speaker made the point that he only looks forward in his goodness and that was enough to define him as good. Because I did not recognize his goodness, I concluded that he dismissed me as evil. Besides admitting that he was “born yesterday” (and did not have a brain in his head), there was really nothing to discuss with him, then or ever. Thankfully, he was not a family member. Liberals of this bent are not worth keeping as “friends” or even acquaintances. They have concluded that you are evil and there is absolutely no common language that would enable you to communicate, on anything. Cutting off people as stupid as this causes me no pain.

  124. Michael Says:

    I do not debate, not even through rhetorical questions. I do, however, laugh. It’s not fake laughter. They say utterly ridiculous things, and I laugh.
    Also, sometimes, someone will raise an issue and I start to catalog facts and stop myself abruptly, in mid syllable, which aptly conveys the message that I recognize that they are not interested in facts or logic, so I just very quickly change the subject. If they say something else ridiculous, I laugh at that, too, and talk about how fast the grass grows up after all this rain.
    I am thus able to remain cordial, even with people who would cheerfully see me and mine in a labor camp, maintain my integrity by not pretending to accept their monstrous defense of the indefensible, and maybe, occasionally, plant a seed of doubt.

  125. Occam's Beard Says:

    Rather than making the best effort they can to think rationally, logically, critically, they insist upon thinking magically … and the tend to *hate* you for attempting to banish their warm-and-fluffy comfortable magic with the cold light of hard-edged reason.

    Ilion, you are definitely on a roll.

    To see a hilarious example of exactly what you’re talking about, check out the comments to article. Priceless.

  126. neo-neocon Says:

    Tim P: I have tried (and am always trying) to make new friends. I even succeed at times, but is very difficult, since I’m older and not thrown into situations where friends are made naturally (having young kids in school together, for example). My activities are a source of friends, but usually those relationships only stay within the activity itself and don’t translate to outside the activity, even if I try to make them do so. Plus, any new people I come into contact with tend to be liberal as well.

    I am somewhat active in local tea parties and the like—but once again, those friends tend to be activity-focused and are noting like old friends I’ve known in some cases for forty years or more. We have been through much together—including, at times, childhood and college, pregnancies, raising of young children, marriage, divorce, dating, remarriage, illness, losses of many kinds. There is no price one can put on this, and no way I’m going to toss it aside because I hate their politics—especially when there is a simpler solution, which is to talk about politics to those who are willing to and to avoid it with those who are not. After all, it’s not as though we ever talked politics before—we almost never did, and most of these people are not particularly interested in it.

    But believe me, it is very hard to make friends at this time of life. Most people are extremely busy as well, and most have lots of old friends and are not even looking for new ones, especially in New England, which tends to be more insular than the rest of the country.

  127. Ilíon Says:

    Steve G, I must point out that to call such persons ‘stupid’ is almost always to use language incorrectly. Or, it is to make a judgment of the sort that one is rarely in a position to make honestly.

    A stupid person, a person who truly is stupid, cannot help his lack of understanding or his failure to think clearly or correctly; he did not choose his stupidity, it just is. So, to assert that a person is ‘stupid‘ is to assert that he is constitutionally incapable of understanding the matter and/or of thinking clearly or correctly about it.

    How can one really *know* that?

  128. Ilíon Says:

    Ilion, you are definitely on a roll.

    I’ve had a lot of experience, going back to childhood, with the phenomenon.

  129. Teri Pittman Says:

    My boyfriend is still a supporter. He gets his news from the MSM and hasn’t read a lot of the stories that I have. He’s an opponent of racism and feels that a lot of the negative stories result from people unhappy about having a black president. At heart though, he’s a capitalist and has run his own business. Se we do manage to find common ground, as long as I steer clear of the president.

    We both lost our spouses two years ago. When you’ve lived through that, you learn that the most important thing in your life is the people you love. I can’t imagine letting politics ruin a relationship. It’s just not that important.

  130. Occam's Beard Says:

    I can’t imagine letting politics ruin a relationship. It’s just not that important.

    No, but values are. And at some point, politics derive from values.

  131. rickl Says:

    Occam’s Beard:

    No, but values are. And at some point, politics derive from values.

    That would explain why I was so quick to jettison some old friends after reading Ayn Rand. (See my 9:23 pm comment from last night.)

    Rand constantly emphasized the primacy of values and principles. Those people’s values became abhorrent to me.

  132. BurkeanMama Says:

    To paraphrase a famous liberal calll to treason: If I have to choose between betraying liberty or betraying my friend I hope I will have the courage to betray my friend.

    An enemy of liberty is no friend of mine.

  133. Wenda Says:

    You all are terrific thinkers and I learn from you daily. I’m more of an observer. I see reasons for optimism here and there, and you sound like you could use some, Neo.

    1. You don’t always realize you’re changing until you’ve gone too far to go back. When I voted for Reagan (first Republican vote I ever cast), I said I’d rather vote for a 70-year-old ex-actor who dyed his hair than for Carter. It never occurred to me that I would never vote for another Democrat. A question I’ve seen asked twice, once in the spring, again about 6 weeks ago: Who did you vote for. Not who would you…who did you. Obama scores in the mid-thirties. Fifteen percent of the people who voted for him won’t admit it any more. They may not realize how much they’ve changed.

    2. Follow the energy. Regardless of what you think of Breitbart, he’s having a ball. So are Tucker Carlson, William Kristol, Sara Palin and her Mama Grizzlies. Chris Christie’s press conferences go viral. In contrast, the Journolist-ers sound like spinsters who write poison-pen letters in Agatha Christie novels.

    This matters. While some people come to change logically, others do culturally. The first peace marchers in the seventies probably marched out of deep conviction, but before long a peace march was the place to meet people. Tea-Parties, anyone?

  134. Bob From Virginia Says:

    geran at 10:47 PM excellent!

  135. Tim P Says:


    In your reply to my comment and referring to your friends of many years you said,“There is no price one can put on this, and no way I’m going to toss it aside because I hate their politics.”
    I agree. You have shared many things over time. You should not throw someone over just because of politics. I also have liberal friends & acquaintances, some who I can rationally discuss politics with, many with whom I cannot.

    However, in your original post you also said, “Was I ever in for a surprise—the rage and in some cases shunning that met me was a profound shock. You see, as a moderate liberal, I had always assumed that liberals believed in “tolerance” of the ideas of others.”

    In the case where someone I knew expressed rage or proceeded to shun me because I simply professed my political beliefs without trying to provoke or offend them, I would question just how much of a friend they really were to begin with. Especially if after some time to cool down, their position was unchanged. It is not you who have tossed away a friendship. They did that all on their own. Besides, do you really want someone who is that narrow minded and brittle as a friend?

    What can a person do? If it were me (and it has been, sometimes sadly), I would simply continue on with my life as before and if necessary, without them. Should they decide to re-engage, I would be happy to have them back as a friend. Should the break be permanent, though somewhat sad about it, I would consider myself lucky to have found out.

    I think over time, as we move, as our lives diverge in different directions, friendships suffer. Sometimes we re-connect, other times we don’t. Sometimes it seems that after even years, it’s like we’d never been apart. Why? I don’t pretend to have any answers.

    I just know that having relocated across a continent that I had no choice but to make new friends, if I wanted friends. So I did. (Amazing how necessity clarifies the mind) And as you said, they are not like the old friends, but then neither am I the same person.

    I don’t presume to know the circumstances of your life. I like your writing and many of the commenters here. Good luck with making new friends. But regarding the old ones who tossed YOU aside. The loos is theirs, not yous.

    Kind of loosely reminds me of the old saying, “if you loan someone a twenty and never see them again, it was probably worth it.”

  136. Tim P Says:

    I meant to say, “The loss is theirs, not yours.”

  137. Judith L Says:

    Thinking about my relationships with my friends on the Left, what amazes me, but probably shouldn’t, is that at no time has one of them asked me why I changed. Not one.

  138. neo-neocon Says:

    Tim P: the “rage and shunning” ones (in the minority to begin with) have mostly either calmed down or raged and shunned themselves right out of my life. As for the rest, the vast majority have been somewhat shocked and stunned, and disagree with me with various degrees of annoyance/disapproval, and express distaste of a milder sort. They mostly consider me an eccentric and misguided oddity. And a few even are willing to talk to me about things and listen to what I have to say.

  139. Ozymandias Says:

    Everything that Occam’s Beard said is absolutely kosher.

    I would also caution people to laying their position on the line, even if prompted by others. Instead, answer a question with another question. For example, if they say, “How do you conservatives feel about those nutjob tea partiers?” ask them, “Why are they nutjobs? How would you define a nutjob?”

    I had to learn this the hard way at my girlfriend’s parents house the other day. They were having a dinner party with the theme of “The Tea Party”. Needless to say, all of the partygoers were dedicated liberals. At one point, one of the guests asked me the very same question I just quoted. I took the bait and responded, which immediately elicited an outcry and upset some of the guests. I can assure you that I made no inflammatory remark: I was simply answering a question directed at me. However, no one was actually interested in the answer.

    Challenge their assumptions and the way they frame their arguments. Also, cover your weak spots and expect low blows. Avoid the situations if at all possible. But if they ask or they decide to start something, follow OB’s advice.

  140. Ilíon Says:

    Ozymandias:… I was simply answering a question directed at me. However, no one was actually interested in the answer.

    That’s because you weren’t *actually* asked a question. The fellow’s point/purpose was to attempt to direct an insult at you, but to do it in such a way that *you’d* be the bad guy if you took the bait. And, from what you’ve said, it sounds as though some of them still tried to turn you into the bad guy, even though you didn’t take the bait.

    “Liberals” tend to pull a lot of passive-aggressive crap like that.

  141. antonnia Santos Says:

    I got this from Yehuda Berg, and I thought I’d share this as I have been struggling with some of my friends silently as I am afraid of the rage that will ensue if I speak up: “We are all teachers to someone. And being a teacher is about having the willingness to make the best of what we’ve been given, even if it’s not what fits the mold. It sometimes means working long and hard hours at a relationship, with not so much as a thank you.

    Today, take measure of the spiritual work you do in silence. The silence is what magnifies the “noise” you make in the world. “

  142. br549 Says:

    I read somewhere just recently that the average person of some middle age year, can probably pull the names of about 2,000 people out of their heads, and would consider over their life that they would consider perhaps 150 of them worthy of the term “friend”.

    True friends, or at least my definition of them, rates in the teens. In my line of work I have met thousands of people, and am much better at faces than I will ever be with names. In between are many I have known for years, but i still consider them acquaintances. They are pleasant to run in to accidently, and a fifteen minute conversation may ensue. But look them up? Try to have a regular get together? No.

    True friends I have, are like neo’s. They are the few I have known for 35 to 45 years and love and enjoy ineffably. And we know full well what we can and can’t talk about.

  143. br549 Says:

    But……yeah. The closest ones believe as i do about a great many things, or me like them. Like politics, and Christ, and personal responsibility, and our kids, and America……stuff like that.

  144. Mike Mc. Says:

    On the “Republicans think Democrats are wrong; Democrats think Republicans are evil” statement:

    Count me out.

    I think Democrats are evil = or there is no such thing as evil. If there is evil, they are it “as Democrats”.

    Of course they are also wrong, but this follows from their evil. They are not evil because they are wrong. They are wrong because they are evil.

    Republicans are right. They are not wrong or evil, when they are being republicans.

    I take evil in the Augustinian sense mostly: It is a lack, absence, privation of the good. It is a perversion of good; or an imperfection of good. It is parasitical, living only because there is a good that logically and in the realm of being precedes it.

    If there were no good baby; there would be no evil abortion. If there were no good businesses, there could be no evil fascistating them. If there we no freedom and liberty; there could be no evil slavery or servitude. If there were no good USA; there would be no evil lack of immigration enforcement, etc., etc.

    The Democrat, since they hold the wrong principles entirely, are evil even when they are acting on principle, maybe especially when they act on principle. Their principles are the wrong ones and they hold them for bad reasons or because they are to lazy to learn the right ones.

    There is no equivocation between Republicans and Democrats, It is a huge mistake to think or talk as if there is. They are two sides of the same coin in the way that Satan and the Archangel Michael are two sides of the same coin. They are both angels, but…

  145. Gringo Says:

    …New England, which tends to be more insular than the rest of the country..

    Yes indeed. It was no accident that it was a New Englander by the name of Robert Frost who said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

    But insular doesn’t mean cold-hearted. When I was six years old my family was in an auto accident which kept my parents in the hospital for a month- a drunk had plowed into us. My father had been painting our house at the time. When he got out of the hospital, he found out that neighbors had finished painting the house for him.

  146. Baklava Says:


    I never talk about fairness. Where did that quote come from? Not me… 🙂


    RUN! And I am NOT kidding…

  147. A Reader from K.C. Says:

    I made it through about a third of the comments section, then skipped to the bottom.

    My wife of 12 years was liberal when I met her. During the first couple of years of our marriage we had many right -vs- left discussions and she came around fairly quickly. I asked her later what changed her mind. “Your arguments make more sense than theirs do,” she said. She was willing to listen, and that made the difference.

    Her extended family is and remains loopy-left. It’s not possible to make it through Christmas dinner without a gratuitous slap at Wal-Mart, or something equally silly. I don’t have the patience or the inclination to engage them, but my wife does now and then. A solid decade of her pointing out the absurdity of their liberal positions has had no effect on them whatsoever.

  148. neo-neocon Says:

    Reader from K. C.: you are absolutely correct; I think that a willingness to listen is the first characteristic of a potential “changer.”

  149. Kerry Says:

    In his book ‘Radical Son’, David Horowitz asks his therapist, “Do people ever change?”
    Therapist, “Only if they are in a lot of pain, and sometimes not even then.” It seems to me one has a choice of voluntarily going to one’s knees, or being forced there by circumstances. I believe it was in Solzhenitzyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago’ he remarked that at some point in trial of Nazi war criminals they often came to a “Oh God, what have I done” moment, and that the communists never did. (Supposedly as bullets were striking the walls next to them, the Ceaucescu’s were shouting, “You can’t do this “. Sort of a “Don’t you know who we are!?’ ) God is no respecter of persons.

  150. Tatyana Says:

    but you are not taking your own advice – not only you didn’t run, you are going to tie the knot officially…

  151. Ciara Says:

    I read a story some time ago about William Penn asking George Fox whether he (Penn) ought to continue wearing his sword — an item both fashionable and necessary for self-defence. Fox replied to the effect that he should wear it as long as he felt comfortable with it.

    Which of course is a great maxim. You’ll keep your friends as long as you are comfortable with them. But as we know the nature of life is change and there are always new friends out there. I hope you find them. 🙂

    (Btw, a tactic that works for me when someone in my company starts a pro-leftie monologue or debate, is to count to 10 in my head to stay calm, then repeat to myself that what they’re saying is neither true nor necessary. It keeps me calm and amazingly, it seems to shut them up!)

  152. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Baklava asked:
    I never talk about fairness. Where did that quote come from? Not me…”

    Blush! You’re so right. It was Occam’s that said it.
    Sorry about that!

    “Got to proof read more carefully,” he mumbles whille trying to remember where his mind went.

  153. Vieux Charles Says:


    You will only be provoked by those with bad intent. Those who don’t provoke you, have no such intent; there is no point in provoking them.

    Here is my humble advise.

    Consider Tom Tancredo, will he win converts through his repeated frontal assaults – regardless of the solvency of his argument?

    Now then, consider George McGovern. Will he?

    Find points of agreement with those who have no mal intent. Foster mutual empathy on those points, if possible. Earn their respect, just as you have earned our respect. Capitalize on that respect.

    Study those with bad intent. Keep your cards close, take notes. If provoked, measure your response.

    Your resolve and tact will attract any who are open to enlightenment, and strike fear into those who are not.

    Think William F. Buckley, not Rush Limbaugh.


  154. Artfldgr Says:

    Anyone who thinks communist socialism is less evil than Hitler’s National Socialism needs to scrape up the courage to watch The Soviet Story:


  155. Baklava Says:


    She’s never said Bush=Hitler. Not the same. 🙂

    She’s not off the deep end….She’s basically apolitical as opposed to a Michael Moore / Move On.org follower.

    She believed the legacy media’s characterization of Sarah as stupid and without experience.

    She wanted to have her own opinion. She felt that new information from me didn’t let her have her opinion.

    That’s as far in the discussion as we got.

  156. Thalpy Says:

    “Talking to Liberals” has elicited quite a response. As it’s morphed from liberals to progressives the suggested approach has changed–as it must. In either case liberals and progressives will not change their strongly held orthodoxies. If the discussions progress too far, they will ultimately arrive at body counts and the unpleasantness of body disposal for those who will not see the light.

    Observe the rising rage.

  157. armchair pessimist Says:

    Well, there’s probably no reasoning with the hardcores, although now and then one sees the light on his own. The best you can do is carry a sharp tongue.

    But I think the great reservoir of them (including my wife by the way) come out of one of Americans’ most amiable traits. Kindness. We really do get a kick out of helping people. I once read a book by an ex-German POW who described how one day these Red Cross packages arrived in their prison barracks; no explanation, they just showed up. Initially the Germans were suspicious, thought that the foods were poisoned. Why else would the enemy shower them with presents? After a few days of staring at the packages, one of Germans snapped his fingers and said “I got it! The Americans just like to help people!”

    I called this an amiable trait, and it is. But it can so easily harden into an unthinking, automatic compassion; and from that into an abhorrence of anyone who doesn’t feel like them, underline “feel”. This is why they can say with a straight face an inanity such as:
    “I just happen to believe in putting people before profits, that’s all…”

    Of course, this default-benevolence dates from the days when the US really was inexhaustibly rich and could afford to make the world kinder and gentler. Ruining that sweet dream is the one good thing I can say about our present financial difficulties.

  158. Artfldgr Says:

    But you must consider that people have a world view that colors how they see things.

    People are so different.

    actually i am NOT missing the point i am making the point that the leadership uses what you just said against you.

    analyse what i am sauing not in terms of how you were raised or told to think, but really think about it.

    what if i cater to world views dishonestly? what if i can change them by making people swallow something they dont want pretending to give them something they do want?

    what if i dont have any beliefs? but waht i do is look to what beliefs motivate you as a being, then i play with those things to get you to move?

    what if i move the chess game from the board to the mind and i use your emotional and psychological tendencies defined by genetics (which we deny) to get you to move the way i want you to.

    no one here is GETTING it, they just want to drag me into the bucket with them…

    your too busy analysing it from your view, where your world, and ideas are important.

    i am telling you to imagine it from the view of a serial killer who wants to get you into the car!!!!!!!!

    i am sitting here telling you that this kind of person who wants you to do somethign you wouldnt do if you were fully cognizant, doesnt give a freaking damn about you, your sacred being, your ideas, etc.

    all they know is that your belief in that can be used against you because your too busy limiting your world view to protect yourself. your too busy trying to get others to align with wrong ways than think that they are wrong.

    what everyone is thinking and doing that got us to this point is WRONG, or we wouldn’t be here.

    in my serial killer analogy, what happens to your and neos argument as to the validity of your ideas, liking part of whats being offered, etc?

    in that world, BOTH of you would be in the van and like the Jews in Germany, find out that you were suckered. (because you thought everyone thinks the same as we are equal. are we?)

    women dont even get that women who are gullible this way, are more genetically prevalent. why? because they ahve more babies, than women who0 aren’t gullible this way. simple Darwin without ego. gives you the real world outcome, while ego and denial hides it.

    all your points amount to arguing why to trust the serial killer… because your arguments refuse to accept that that is a facet to reality we have to deal with.

    at what point with the feminists talking about mass extermination of men, the blacks talkign mass extermination of whites, the spanish thinking the same and throwing blacks in, and so on. and the ayers and such thinking of exterminating 25 million people havent you realized that THESE are the people appealing to your dreams!!!!!!!!

    the difference is that they want to kill thousands safely where the criminally insane dont care about legitimacy, being untouchable, and remolding their reality to suit them…

    you still want to argue that your ideas, goals, and such mean something to collectivists who deny you a right to even have them?

  159. Artfldgr Says:

    Intentions matter in terms whether change in opinion can occur.


    then let me lead a group, i will use havelocks change agent techniques and i will make sure that everyone’s intentions become mine by the time we are finished.

    why? because they are too busy being self important to protect themselves.

  160. Artfldgr Says:

    okay, I’m going to start commenting as Artfldgr. (I’m surprised this clown is not limited to 100 words or less, but then….here goes)

    I am not limited as I have been solidly on target since before Obama was elected. So far it’s been people telling me I am wrong, and a clown, and they have been wrong. Give it time, you will find experience counts more than imagination.

    The fact that you use such language means you’re a collectivist. I don’t care what your conscious says, as that’s not most of you anyway; I care what your subconscious shows as far as mental interaction and terminology.

    Calling me a clown is a way to warn me back to a collective you think you belong to. You also think that you in the center of that collectives opinion, and so the others will side with your commiseration of hate masquerading as erudite debate.

    I will assume you meant “on” not “as”.

    the end is not as we think we sometimes envision. Often the blue drummers care more than the beach dreams. Real estate is not as much as a kitchen as a crisis, fully in front of us. I don’t speak as a stone-age guy, but as a new-age guy, orbiting professorially above the Austrailian outback.

    You speak like a dandy…
    I am not envisioning, I am discussing events, history, and how they led up to the conditions ripe for those who wish to do the unconscionable.

    In general, those who call me clowns tend to be VERY ignorant… at least compared to me, and you can test me on it. usually no one can tell me I have my facts wrong (Though I do from time to time and am happy for corrections), and so the only thing they can do is either call me names, or attack my conclusions from those facts.

    They tend to also compartmentalize that the long tract they are complaining about is the whole of my thought and that I am not leaving out huge amounts of other evidence. That is, they set a contradictory challenge for me that doesn’t exist for them as a means of playing with the game rules rather than be able to play the game with any competency within the rules.

    Mostly this clown is here because without me the arguments and angles would all be the same, and you would not get an emotional jolt enough to want to write or answer or feel the need to participate. [What? did you think I thought I was special? That’s funny]

    I have moved on to the rest of your writing..

    I have determined that you actually don’t know what most of the words you use actually mean. You have a cargo cult mentality in which you loosely string words and terms together for their emotional content.

    Your words have meaning the way a old 70s song does. Like putting roses, blood, snow, and horses together for effect. You think I am a clown because your cant understand what I am saying, and don’t like that the words and things don’t sound cool together.

    You want Hanna has two mommies, and I give you historical tragedy

    Save your job, save your marriage, but forfeit your future. Be a human being, active with dreams, in every environment. This is not an end, but a beginning. You can order a pizza, or reorder your life, the cell-site cares not. (It must be the electrons.)

    Given a few years, some money, a few sycophantic followers, some help from the FSB, and some property, and you too can be like Jim Jones…

  161. Artfldgr Says:

    Reader from K. C.: you are absolutely correct; I think that a willingness to listen is the first characteristic of a potential “changer.”

    that depends on the context of the system your workig under, and if your aware of that context.

    if your in a society of individual freedom where the participants are equal before the law and so equal in stature going into a debate, i would agree with you.

    but we are not that way, we are only that way in moral moementum of the past we gave up long ago, and no longer conserve the things that support it.

    so, like obama, a leader of such, doesn’t really give a darn what you think as your thinking is going to change to what they want it to be.

    you will eitehr listen to the feminists, some ariticles they wrote in collusion giving the illusion of validity through concordance, other women, womens study courses, black liberation, maybe your church, etc..

    since most of us belong to the smaller groups vying for power, we forget to serve the larger groups we are all a menmber of.

    so you cant be a feminist and an american, since they are antithetical. youc ant be a black liberationist and an american they are antithetical

    they do not care what your ideas are, they only care that eventually they can align them (Gleichschaltung) with their goals and lock them into place.

    shock you to unlock you
    move you to a new plateau
    then freeze you there preventing fall back

    we have new names for it, that way when you search for it, you dont find the old stuff. and if someone like me tris to teach you, you already know all the answers that they gave as to why being a collectivist is free… (and not even realize your collectivism and your fealty to them).

    why should obama learn economics of a system that wont exist when he is done? quaint history?

    why do i care what you think if this is a collective, i am above you and you are a member?

    how they think:
    i only care until i can compel, then my mask comes off. until then, i care only in terms of keeping you on board and in terms of how your independent thinking can screw me up. promise that after X gets done we will get you your Y… etc… but the minute i have what i want, your going to find out the truth of it. i am like the serial killer, as i only need you in the van, not to actually believe and sign on. you only have to believe long enough and that’s easy compared to winning the debate in the real space.

    your refusing to understand how to do things under a different set of time preferences, methods, ends, and so forth.

    you keep telling me that you have to hit the nail with the hammer. i keep telling you its a screw, a nut and bolt, and so on… and you keep telling me hit it harder.

    there is a big reason why i see whats coming and have said so inch by inch and why whats coming has not been prevented in any shape or form… as the processes methodologies are normalized to the point where it takes effort to oppose them.

    ways of thinking
    ways of thinking about things
    ways of regardiog things
    ways of how to come to a right pc judgment

    its hard to stand alone with thye other individuals against the storm and say, we belong together because we are all different, not because we are the same.

    we stand apart to work together and be greater as we accept that we all cant be captain and have a functional ship.

    99% and more want to make their socially derived methods work when they wont.

    until they decide to stop trying to jam a square peg into a round hole becuase they were taught its critical to do it that way, the change in thought and perspective will not happen.

    like the dodo they will walk up to what will kill them and ratiuonalize the whole way..

    like the girl, drunk, and high on feminism should s, who gets into a van with some bad men and women, will learn that her rationalizations are wrong.

    in fact, all rationalizations are wrong by definition…
    unless your a useful idiot and lumpen proletariat.

    [by the way, this applies to all their groups in variations, not just feminists. feminists are the most massive and most progressive and situated groups. so would be the easiest to see if a perspective moved]

  162. Artfldgr Says:

    You cant understand the predator by thinking like a victim or their prey…

    everyone is telling me things from the perspective of the prey, and how these things are important.

    i keep telling them that they are the prey, and that to the man in the restaurant their thoughts other than the ones that get them on his plate are quite irrelevant.

    by being taught the perspective of meaningful pacifist victims, we don’t pound the predators out of existence as we did before.

    like the feminists teaching us that a drunk partially incapacitated super model should be able to walk through a dark alley in a bad section of town two days after mass prison release.

    yeah, that should be how it is when we start pretending we are god ourselves. but is that the way it is?

    in a world were we don’t need to eat, maybe the rationalizations of what a prawn thinks and their verbal justifications for continued existence and meaning has meaning to assuage the diner.

    but the bleating of a lamb is not something that makes a predator take notice and correct, but quite the opposite.

    why you keep wanting me to think that what you think is important, is beyond me… as we are not trying to convince me of your sacred position as an individual in the world.

    we are trying to convince ticks, fleas, gadflies, mosquitoes, and sharks, that we should not be on the menu even if we don’t defend ourselves, and lay down defenseless before them.

    in the context of the parasite and predator thats dinner entertainment…

    Let me put it another way. when society changed to a collective, your importance went from critical individual to cell in a body politic. you don’t agree, you dont get to tell the body where to go, you are not a brain cell… if you dont listen to the brain cells and replace your individual desires with theirs, then your a cancer.

    so basically your arguments to them are like the arguments of a cancer trying to justify its existence..

    and their arguments to you are.. how do we get it back to normal, put it into remission, or exterminate it to make a good body?

    failure to see the context your in has changed, is failure to see that what worked before, when you were an important individual. before feminism changes the courts to unequal treatment for equal outcomes (ok who else did that?), you could argue some point of individual merit. after that, how could you? such merit was the refuge of the oppressor class, and so was no longer allowed as it was the argument of cancer in a body poltic.

    now, you guys want to argue merit of ideas, when only one idea has merit ay more (communism)

    you want to argue that what you say has some importance when the change changed that.

    you want to imagine that you can have a new free state while keeping the oppositions army together and in control…

    you are the prey, the target, the victim…

    you are not important to anything or anyone but yourself…

    so any kind of idea that stems from such a self important sense of validity no longer has meaning..

    its context is gone, while the echo of the reflex remains.

  163. Jim Kearney NYC Says:

    I think you need to write a book about your journey, and the journey of so many who responded.

    And I think Assistant Village Idiot was right. They’re looking at your leaving as a betrayal of the “tribe”.

    And especially now, and the eight years of G W have put them in a state of raw fear and survival. With Obama and their illusions getting bigger and bigger, the threat of “conservatives” “Tea Party” people, which you are now a part of, you are in the “enemy” tribe now.

    At the risk of sounding New agey, you have to raise the relationship from the tribal root chakra up to the Heart Chakra. That is where you reach them, at the Heart. I am a rock ribbed conservative with a slew of Liberal friends, Many of them didn’t know I was conservative until the subject of politics came up. But we were already friends, and we genuinely loved each other already. And many of my friends know me as a fellow healing arts type. They know my heart, so they tolerate my politics. We don’t usually talk politics though.

    Unless the relationship is too toxic, we may be meant to be with these people and visa versa. Whether you are Christian or not, I still think it’s a good idea to bless those who curse you, even if you decide not to stand there be a perpetual rug.

    And I have converted a couple of my NYC Liberal girlfriends by the way. But I always spoke to every liberal with the intent of not taking anything personally, and without getting ugly.

  164. Sam W Says:

    Neo, find a shooting club and join it. Participate in their activities. You will find the people there to be very suitable for friendship. In competitive shooting, men and women are equal. It doesn’t take extraordinary strength to operate a gun. It does take self control.

  165. sweet[ea Says:

    Reading and thinking have formed conservatives. What if the majority of people don’t read and mainly receive their ideas from audio and visual means ?

  166. SteveJ Says:

    I have a bit more of a general response.

    I am a Conservative old enough to remember Barry Goldwater and supported Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

    Because of this, it is impossible for me to support fake Conservatives such as George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney.

    Your observations about most liberals are unfortunately all too correct.

    But it would seem to me that the rational course of action would be to become a Conservative not a neocon or a neo-neocon as you call it.

    In fact, “changing” from a liberal to a neocon isn’t much of a change at all.

    Despite what neocons say about themselves, they are actually a type of liberal. The fact that other liberals don’t like them doesn’t mean much. Various strains of liberals have always had difficulty getting along with other strains of liberals.

    What unites liberals is their lack of understanding regarding private property institutions along with other social and political institutions, particularly constitutional institutions, and how those institutions come about.

    It leads to ridiculous and tragic government policies in the domestic AND foreign policy arenas.

    People who are willing to take off their partisan hats would realize that the President George W. Bush most emulated was Lyndon Johnson — a liberal.

    In addition, his themes in foreign policy speeches contained talking points frequently stated by President Woodrow Wilson — a liberal.

    And Bush/Rove tactics were just as divisive and condescending as liberal behavior.

  167. Sarah Says:

    I am lucky, because I converted my sisters. We grew up in a very small hippie town (where the notorious racist/alcoholic/womanizer Alexander Cockburn lives, as well as many other semi-prominent extremists). It took years of gentle guidance,”did you know that 120 million are dead because of communism?” “That peace sticker is an advertisement of false morally superiority motivated by a desire to fit in or get laid”, etc. etc etc.

  168. ED Hardy bags Says:

    That’s Too nice, when it comes in india hope it can make a Rocking place for youngster.. hope that

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About Me

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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