October 15th, 2012

Political changer: Buzz Bissinger’s wake-up call continues apace, and in the usual fashion

I’ve already written about Buzz Bissinger’s “changer” experience here.

But there’s an addendum, and it’s just as all of us would imagine: he’s been excoriated and shunned by those liberals he used to think were so—well, so liberal.

I don’t want to mock Bissinger’s naivete, because I once shared it. Until it happens to you, it’s not something a person of the liberal persuasion would tend to notice. I certainly didn’t. Neither did Bissinger. And the experience is quite an eye-opener, as Bissinger says:

I would say between the Daily Beast comments, Twitter comments, Facebook comments– roughly…4,000 comments– I ran about 6-1 against. And it wasn’t just, you know, “I disagree with you.” It was the f-word, it was “you’re a baby killer.”

It was even friends, [but] among friends it wasn’t as vitriolic. There was this sense of, “How dare you, you’re traitor. You’re a writer. You’re a journalist. How can you possibly come out in favor of this man?”

…You could feel the anguish, you could feel the sense of perhaps traitorship. I am a lifelong Democrat…

I thought liberals were supposed to be “open-minded.” I thought they were supposed to accept divergent viewpoints to at least say, “hey, everyone in America has a right to an opinion.” But it’s really about– “I love free speech as long as it’s the free speech that I want” … Liberals have this sense of themselves, but 90% are as nasty, as vitriolic, as vicious as the conservatives they say are…

There’s a sameness to these changer stories that is both tedious and fascinating at the same time. There’s a reason I gave the title “Leaving the circle: political apostasy” to the blog category related to this aspect of political change. It’s another cliche, but liberalism is much more like a religion than conservatism is, and “apostasy” is pretty much how liberals view the change process, even though liberals often mock conservatives for their supposed religious fundamentalism (which only some conservatives exhibit, anyway—but liberals are not interesting in learning the truth about conservative thought, they are interested in setting up conservative straw men and knocking them down over and over).

In one of my earliest posts on the subject I quoted from Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. I think the following quote from Kundera bears repeating:

Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.

And I’ll add to that my observation from that same post:

We all want to dance in a ring, to a certain extent. It’s wonderful to be part of a coherent movement, a whole that makes sense, joined with others working for the same goal and sharing the same beliefs. But there’s a price to pay when something challenges the tenets of that movement. When that happens, there are two kinds of people: those who change their ideas to fit the new facts, even if it means leaving the fold, and those who distort and twist the facts and logic to maintain the circle dance.

Bissinger is finding out the price of stepping out of the circle, a price that’s probably been steeper than he expected.

23 Responses to “Political changer: Buzz Bissinger’s wake-up call continues apace, and in the usual fashion”

  1. Steve Says:

    Humans are tribal in nature. That is a fact which is not going to change. People organize themselves according to groups: family, community, country, etc. Islamism is a group. Leftism is a group. What do these groups have in common? They want to create a unified world (a single group). They both reject the idea that competing views are healthy for the population as a whole. They want to eliminate competing views and are willing to use any means at their disposal. I think this idea that competition cannot be separated from cooperation and that both are necessary for a stable system is the essence of libertarian and conservative thinking. The idea that you can create a single group and eliminate conflict is not just wrong, it is profoundly out of step with reality.

  2. Sam L. Says:

    Unlike Islam apostasy, liberal/progressive apostasy only cuts personal ties, not heads; they only declare “You are dead to me.” I get the impression they’d like to cut off heads, though.

  3. George Pal Says:

    This religiosity of the Left has much in common with that of the religiosity of Islam. They are both products of Gnostic urges, one secular, one ‘religious’. Eric Voegelin, who had much to say about modern political Gnosticism – two books worth – made the connection indirectly in suggesting liberal/Left absolutism would make a censorious war/jihad against unbelievers with special attention paid to apostates.

    “At the extreme of the [Gnostic] revolt in consciousness, ‘reality’ and the ‘Beyond’ become two separate entities, two ‘things’ to be magically manipulated by suffering man for the purpose of either abolishing ‘reality’ altogether and escaping into the ‘Beyond,’ or, of forcing the order of the ‘Beyond’ into ‘reality.’ The first of the magic alternatives is preferred by the gnostics of antiquity, the second one by the modern gnostic thinkers.”

    The abolition of ‘reality’ takes a great deal of effort, so much so that changers may not be suffered nor allowed to escape defamation, vilification, and ruination – if it can be managed.

  4. jeff Says:

    If O loses come November 6, can you imagine how useless he will be from then until January 20? I mean, seriously. Some jobs they march you out immediately after you quit/resign/are terminated because there is too much sensitive info.; others they give you weeks/months. Either way is often somewhat industry standard. But if O loses, I could see him almost admit that the U.S. is no longer “entitled” to his “services” after November 6 and he is checking out. No more speaking with the press, no interviews, no transfer of power efforts. Expect a lot more golf and 5 hour work days while he preps his Hawaiian mansion.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    But if O loses, I could see him almost admit that the U.S. is no longer “entitled” to his “services” after November 6 and he is checking out.

    Thanks for cheering me up. Really. My nightmare concern is exactly the opposite: that in the lame duck period he’ll be pardoning every commie and terrorist (and other criminal not already covered) in the country.

  6. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Neo, is there a link to the “addendum”? I can’t find it — I apologize if it’s right there and I’m missing it, which is quite possible.

  7. Tesh Says:

    @Jeff, we should be so lucky to have him “check out”. I’m concerned that he’ll burn bridges, which I can see from a petty ego thus bruised.

  8. jeff Says:

    Occam: Sorry to bring you down. Win or lose, I think at the end of O’s reign he will pardon and jam through a few minor things. That’s a given. But he can only do so much before the “surviving” D’s in Congress speak out against him to try to hedge the bleeding. Even O needs to maintain a sliver of credibility so he can “eventually earn enough,” which I suspect will be quite different from how he currently defines “enough.” I also suspect – if he loses – that he will pretty much trash American voters and the U.S., at least he’ll do it more openly than now. We;re too dumb to vote for him.

    Honestly though, I’m nervous for the resulting riots – if he loses. No way his supporters go quietly.

  9. parker Says:

    Sam L says, “Unlike Islam apostasy, liberal/progressive apostasy only cuts personal ties, not heads; they only declare “You are dead to me.” I get the impression they’d like to cut off heads, though.”

    For some on the left, this is undeniably true. Those are the dangerous ones. The majority are merely misguided and incapable of understanding human nature. Anything that conflicts with their concept that it takes a Potemkin Village to raise an idiot is dismissed as a vast right wing conspiracy.

    I refuse to hate the ‘progressives’. I simply want them to stick to chattering and preening at cocktail parties.

  10. parker Says:

    “We all want to dance in a ring, to a certain extent. It’s wonderful to be part of a coherent movement, a whole that makes sense, joined with others working for the same goal and sharing the same beliefs.”

    Other than the fact that ‘progressive’ ideology does not make sense in the real world; this statement highlights the character flaw found in those who are in the sway of ‘conventional wisdom’. Conventional wisdom is rarely wise and often is the catalyst that sparks the mob to rape, pillage, and burn. It leads to pogroms, gulags, killing fields, and gas chambers.

  11. parker Says:

    “No way his supporters go quietly.”

    Yes, it is very possible that it will be Obamaphone women and men on a rampage once BHO is defeated. Those of you who live in metro areas might want to book a couple of weeks on a sunny beach in the Caribbean starting November 7.

  12. gcotharn Says:

    Interesting comments from Voegelin, GeorgePal. I can see how he makes come connections between gnosticism and leftism.

  13. blert Says:

    The Wan is a dyed in the cashmere Gonnabee…

    i.e. a Reactive Dependent

    Consequently, he’s destined to self-sabotage his campaign….

    Things like not prepping for the first debate — and not attending to foreign issues — like Libya and Syria.

    But, he’s no Carter. There’s no getting him off that jet.

    His face time in the oval office is apparently the least in history.

  14. marekf Says:

    I see an exact parallel with the global warming religion. The classic “doubters” and “deniers” are harking back to religion wars.

  15. Roy Lofquist Says:

    For us, ahem, “senior citizens” this is kind of old hat. Eric Hoffer nailed it in his 1951 work “The True Believer”.


    This is really a kind of “must read” primer, along with Hayek, Kirk and others, for understanding the human condition.

  16. Liberty Wolf Says:

    It is true, changing from left to right is very, very difficult if for no other reason that most of the people you knew as a left winger will disapprove. And, disapprove a LOT. I can understand some disappointment but the level of vitriol can be overwhelming. Real friends will stick around, but not all friends are real enough. I have not had it as bad as some, and I still have a hard time dealing with the angst of it all. For me, it is about going to a social event and knowing that just about every person in the room is in strong, strong disagreement with me on politics and that some would probably be very angry if they knew what my politics are now. Again, my real friends and some others (acquaintances) have stuck around, but there has been some gasping and shuddering and anger from other friends and acquaintances and these have vanished. So, i get it what this guy is going through. Also, once he gets deeper into the change, he will experience the feeling that it is hard to even begin to discuss politics since the assumptions are so different. I mean, you find yourself coming from another universe, of assumptions about reality (Israel has a right to exist, Jews are not all converts, Right wingers are not all Religious conservatives, Islam is not purely a victim of “Islamaphobia”, the world is not going to end in thirty years from global warming and overpopulation) and on and on. Recently, a friend of mine said she thought Obama was like Ghandi. Sigh – how one even have a discussion when someone is that far away? Any way, good luck to this guy and to all of us changers. I am so glad I came to another understanding of politics though, because in a sense it is deeper than simply that. And, it is a positive and life changing experience.

  17. beverly Says:

    Thanks, Roy! Found it in my local library!

    Neo: there’s no link to Bissinger’s latest post, above.

  18. Peter Says:

    If folks want to dance in a ring they should join a dance club. There are both square dance and circle dance clubs, something for everyone. and then they might leave those of us who don’t care about dancing alone.

  19. Aww, liberal snob Buzz Bissinger discovers that his liberal snob friends are liberal snobs. | RedGalBlueState Says:

    [...] a blogger I check in with regularly for her insightful and unique perspective on conservatism, writes here about the reaction Buzz Bissinger received from readers after he came out in support of Romney (or, [...]

  20. Gringo Says:

    For those who would be interested in a more detailed description of blert’s “reactive dependent” description of the POTUS, a Google search can be of assistance: Gonnabee “reactive dependent” blert.

  21. Maggie's Farm Says:

    Weds. morning links…

    Commenter at Ace’s MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!: Crowley Admits Romney Was Right On Libya After All: It was a spirited debate, but it was difficult to ignore the elephant in the room. Tamny: Romney v. Obama Was a Nauseating Draw, and Both Deserve to Lose…

  22. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    Bissinger is finding out the price of stepping out of the circle, a price that’s probably been steeper than he expected.

    The important question is, now that his eyes have been opened: Will he continue to keep them open, or will he put the blinders back on and step back into the ring while doing his best Sgt. Schultz impression?

    Time will tell.

  23. Surellin Says:

    Thanks for the circle dancing quote. I’ve seen that before on you blog but never followed it up. Turns out that the book is not available on Kindle except as an audio book, but, hey!, I remembered that we have a library and by God they had several copies. So that’s the weekend’s reading.

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


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