The (hopefully) final article of my political series. In this article, I’d like to step back and comment on the morphing of conservatism and conservatives in general. It’s not a comment on political power so much as it is character.
As the political landscape changes, what is identifiably conservative today isn’t going to be the same tomorrow. But what is peculiar is the shift in morality. Conservatives find themselves siding with new allies. The party that was once purely Protestant is picking up the leftovers of the Democratic Party, and now enjoys a number of Catholics. The party that was purely utilitarian and deregulation is now seeing a shift towards environmental friendliness.
Americans have always had a crusade. It was once anti-Germany (World War 2) and then anti-communism (during the Cold War). During the Lyndon Johnson era, the baby-boomers began pushing for equal rights for minorities. First it was dark-skinned people, and then when Generation X came along, it became women in the workplace. In all cases, the crusades have gone too far, and much like the southerners in Tennessee are still fighting the Civil War in spirit, so to old liberals are still fighting the war on racism and sexism. Now a new crusade has arisen: for the preservation of the environment.
There are different causes for this crusade.
One is the wastefulness of previous generations who (still living) have been spoiled by the luxuries of the golden era of the American economy and doting parents who didn’t want them to suffer in poverty as they did after the Great Depression. Younger generations see this and are disgusted.
A second reason is the influence of Japan upon American culture. Due to intricate details I want to explain in another article, Japanese and American cultures have been entangled, and now Japanese culture is offering its own influence. As a clean culture, it offers what a number of young Americans are jealous of.
At the same time, having been raised in conservative households, younger generations are embracing what would have otherwise been part of the liberal platform, and now it’s creeping into the Republican constituency.
Like the other crusades, I predict this one will also go too far, and in various ways, it already has. Technology has yet to catch up with ideal goals for environmental preservation. Already in many towns, the replacement of natural gas with the inferior power source of solar panels and wind turbines is already taking place with Republican backing, even as older conservatives – and scientists – note its inefficiency and the wasteful cost in production.
On a positive note, more people are becoming conscientious of where they put their garbage. Even in predominantly conservative states, littering along highways is becoming increasingly frowned upon and less seen as the recreational duty of jailbirds.
Shifts in Ethics
The United States of America was founded by Protestants. The literal (and liberal) teaching of Scripture by Protestants allowed for the justification of slavery and dominance of males in the household. But then in the 1980s, it became a standard and fell into a political rut.
Movement was happening elsewhere. Spiritual revivals occurred at Maranatha church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many Protestants picked up the torch of morality and adopted the pro-life, pro-family platform they maintain to this day. This would later align them with orthodox Catholic Christians, especially those who had rediscovered their faith after the chaos following the Second Vatican Council. That particular story isn’t of interest here, and others know it better than I do, so I won’t go into detail.
The problem is that Protestantism, by nature, doesn’t hold true to a standard. It’s based on personal interpretation of “Scripture” rather than author’s intent, and the primary doctrine of Protestantism is freedom from the “law of sin and death”. With freedom in mind, many Protestants don’t feel bound to obeying a strict moral code and have allowed deviations from the traditional code such as divorce, abortion, and a number of other acts that just so happen to be aligned with liberal ethics.
This should not be surprising. With their political, religious, and social agendas carved in stone, conservatives in general nestled into a cocoon and have turned their focus on improving their creature comforts. Now, when they go to church, they look forward to the coffee machine and socialization. The preacher’s speech should be as entertaining as the “worship” music rather than actually disruptive and motivational. There is very little reason to take any of this stuff seriously anymore. Artistic types (generally liberally-minded individuals with conservative backgrounds) have taken the lead and try to refashion their church’s image every X number of years.
Within the conservative camp, things are defined by the dominant personalities that make bipartisan dialogue difficult. As you can imagine, a number of changes need to be made before conservatives and liberals can connect. Unfortunately, I can’t see these happening soon due to the reinforcement of character and ideas by the echo chamber of conservative circles.
ENTJs, ENTPs, and ESTPs (MBTI personality types) can be very belligerent, rude, and a tease. This makes it especially difficult to get along with them and hard for sensitive liberal types to meet them on even ground. In my opinion, the ideal meeting point is authentic Christian ethics, which demands equal and mutual respect for each person’s dignity. But that’s hard to implement in practice when you’ve enjoyed the lack of constraint among friends as conservatives have.
ISTJs, the preservers of society, have maintained the same old, same old, and aren’t interested in new ideas. They are extremely difficult to teach and stubbornly hold to opinions for the sake of pride (or some bizarre reason I haven’t thought of yet). However, on the right foot, they can be communicated with. The trouble is that, being emotional, liberals jump out all flustered and put these conservatives on the defensive side right away, making them impossible to deal with. Liberals need to calm down, but for the other side to do their part in being friendlier, there needs to be some opening up of doors and/or windows by these individuals. A fresh breeze is always good for ones health provided that it’s a gentle breeze and not a hurricane.
It’s hard to comment on the other people in the conservative camp because of their diversity. Many people are (or started as) conservative because their family was that way, as was the case with me. Thus, as a child, you heard very biased opinions and retained them for many years. To correct any errors, you have to digest opposing views in bite-sized chunks by chewing on everything for awhile.
Things to Dump
Based on the dominant personality types, conservatives have set up ideals that, in fact, are hurting themselves even as conservatives are using them to mock liberals.
First off is the strong-man mentality. Extroverted-thinkers like their body, and thus they like body-building. When pride comes into play, it gives some of them the unquenchable idiotic idea that tells them everyone else – regardless of size, weight, or physical body structure – should also become a body builder, even if a good doctor would know it’s physically impossible for a particular person and/or even if the targeted person has no interest nor need to enhance their physique. They tend to comment on and mock the physical appearance of people. Commenting on appearance and stating one’s preferences or attraction to particular features isn’t wrong in itself; imposing one’s ideals of a body and degrading or insulting the dignity of other people for not fulfilling your ideals is wrong. Once the over-the-top criticism and mockery stops, the political bridge will be easier to build.
Secondly is the army-first mentality. ISTJs make great soldiers, but they have come to idolize this role as if soldiers were super human and were allowed to justify the horrible atrocities that some of them commit. The truth is, there are admirable soldiers and selfish soldiers, good soldiers and bad ones. Not all are good, and not all are bad. Some care about the freedom of family and friends, and some do not. I always get a sour feeling when, having read about the demand for military spending, I hear stories from former soldiers who spent their pay on pleasing bar girls and drinking beer, as if “defending liberty” (which was really just obeying presidential orders) entitled them to a life of spurts of intemperance and unchastity. At the moment, I can’t think of any military man I know personally who isn’t divorced (I don’t believe in “re-marriage”) (but maybe I’ll think of someone eventually), and it’s quite evident to me that – based on the stories I hear – many marital struggles are in part due to the way the military teaches young men. They come home unprepared for domestic life and treat their wives and children in the manner of drill sergeants rather than spouses and fathers. The military doesn’t make you a man; it makes you a member of a unit. Within many conservative households, the military is promoted as an ideal despite the fact that it was and may still be contributing to the instability of the family structure. The solution? Teach people how to handle domestic life first. The reason to fight will come naturally when they have someone to defend instead of pursuing money and evading boredom.
Thirdly is that money doesn’t rule the world. This is very any-Republican, but it’s the truth. In obedience to the Republican platform, conservatives think that people with land and money should have power. This of course leads to disenfranchisement, which is neither just (as in justice) nor fair, and ultimately ends in civil war or at least lots of murders of land owners. Property should never determine power, but the fact that it once did in American history is why labor unions faced off against Carnegie and lots of blood was spilled. How quickly people forget history (assuming they were taught it). On top of all this is the fact that the obsession with money is uprooting and replacing the morality once held by conservatives. Conservative has already become synonymous with capitalist. At some point, people will forget it also meant “morally-grounded”.
Fourth, conservatives in general have a real problem with being too flippant about privacy. This has cost them and future generations dearly. There is fine balance that must be maintained, but this topic is very long and deserves its own article (or two…).
Conservatives, being the rational group at the table, are already open for dialogue if liberals would calm down and make their case.
Everyone needs each other. That’s how we grow and balance out so that all of us can benefit from what we each have to offer. Too much one way or another doesn’t work. The fact that we’ve isolated ourselves in these echo chambers is preventing us from learning from each other.
The only way we’ll ever be reunited is when America has something to stand together on. In the future, that’s likely to come with the imminent economic and social collapse due to population decline, which America has just passed through its first year of. If you want to fast-forward and see what happens, just look at the current collapse in Europe.
Personally, I believe the answer is the platform upon which all people are respected and treated with equal dignity; a platform of calm, rational dialogue and reason, not of whim and emotion; a platform that gives people a more fundamental reason to care for each other than something as baseless as tradition or as fluctuating as peer pressure.
I’ve seen conservatives and liberals sit down at the table together and discuss gracefully in a manner that was respectful of each other’s opinions without any insulting or flame throwing. It was at church. Want peace? How about embracing the platform of the Prince of Peace? – Love, charity, kindness, compassion, mercy, and the pursuit of peace as exercised on a practical level.
I know it’s hard to think Christianity would be good choice given the scandals and problems over the years. It seems like every other organization of men. But to be clear, Christians are held to a higher standard, and thus when wickedness does come out, it looks worse than when it does elsewhere.
Authentic Christianity – a life of charity, kindness, and all around unselfishness – is a very, very hard life to live. As a path, its reputation is damaged when people claim to follow it and fail. But the path isn’t to blame for being wrong. Not following the path is what makes people wrong. If you do follow it, the world looks very beautiful.
I apologize for my brevity in this section. (Yeah, what?) I would have liked to have elaborated more instead of whipping through this section like I did. But this isn’t a persuasive paper as much as it is a tale of two cities.
I may need to edit these posts in the future, but considering my blogging history, that’s par for the course.
Ok, I’m done talking now… at least for the moment.