Who are the conservatives? Let's examine the conservative minds, the various types of conservative, how they think, and their legacy. We shall see that conservatives of different stripes all agree on this: they are superior and right and the rest of the world is inferior and wrong!
The SoCons: Living in Black and White
These are the social conservatives. Some are wealthy. Some are middle class. Many are poor. Some of them are the happiest, sweetest people. They'll invite you in for milk and cookies.
But beware. They have some serious issues. And if they decide they don't like you, that you're not "one of them," they can be very mean.
By definition, social conservatives have a fixed mind. They are rigid, inflexible, closed. They are adamant. Their ideology is set in cement, then encased in lead. They are utterly and irrevocably convinced they have the world figured out. They believe righteously in their rightness, totally unaware that it is usually wrongness. They think they know exactly what God wants. So, of course, if you know what God wants, why would you ever compromise? There is no "evolving" of viewpoint (even if they were to believe in evolution, which they don't). Their worldview is the same as it ever was... unchanging. They are very proud of that. It may not actually be, but they presume their worldview is exactly the same as their mama and papa, and grandmama and grandpapa... all the way back to Adam and Eve. The idea that they may be wrong never enters their head. Even when they feel that queasy feeling in their gut that they just may be wrong, they simply stiffen up more. In the face of mounting evidence that undermines their beliefs, they will double-down. They will not admit error in opinion or judgment. And they do not apologize. They cannot. If they were to allow one little crack in their worldview, the entire hall of mirrors might collapse. So they remain cocksure of themselves, and their beliefs.
Among the wisest people who ever lived, Socrates and Lao Tzu, shared a very interesting observation: "All that I know is that I know nothing." The great philosophers, poets and scientists of history all bowed to the great unknown. SoCons are just the opposite. They think they know everything that needs to be known... which is not a lot. Why, it's all so simple! The entire Universe is one Big Binary to them. Everything is Either/Or. Black and white. Us vs. Them. Good and Evil. Righteousness and Sin. Heaven and Earth. Divine and Base. Body and Soul. Right and Wrong. Up and Down. Male and Female. Heterosexual and well, anything else. And, of course, Conservative and Liberal. The only question they perplexes them is why everyone dosen't think the way they do, you know, the correct way. Ergo: Those that don't must be crazy, bad, dangerous.
The poor dears are very confused. They are confused all the more because they don't even know they are confused. Unlike Socrates and Lao Tzu they have not a filament of humility or real openness to truth in their worldview. Like the denizens of Plato's cave, other viewpoints - especially from the outside - do not impress them. The enlightened traveler comes back to share with them the good news of the real light, the real world, but the shadows playing on the cave wall have always worked well enough for them. They don't want to be "enlightened." They deny, mock, and perhaps even attack, the messenger of actual truth. They know what they believe in, and they denigrate, or simply ignore, anything that challenges it. You can expose the rigid conservative to truth, but they will absorb it as much as a spoon tastes soup! You can give a conservative a cup of reason, but you can't make them think.
Are social conservatives stupid because they are conservative, or conservative because they are stupid?
SoCons are emotionally energetic, but intellectually very lazy. Part of this may have to do with the lower intelligence of many SoCons. Echoing John Stuart Mill's proclamation that "all stupid people are conservative," psychological studies have proven that children with lower IQ are far more likely to develop socially conservative beliefs. As psychologists explain, "People of low intelligence gravitate toward ideologies which feature structure, order and resistance to change, ideas that make it easier to understand a complicated world."
Researcher Philip Tetlock of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that conservatives are less tolerant of compromise; see the world in "us" versus "them" terms; are more willing to use force to gain an advantage; are "more prone to rely on simple (good vs. bad) evaluative rules in interpreting policy issues;" and are "motivated to punish violators of social norms (e.g., deviations from traditional norms of sexuality or responsible behavior)." Read more about such studies at www.theatlantic.com.
A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Arkansas (not exactly a bastion of liberalism) summarized that "low effort thinking promotes conservatism." In this report conservatives are linked to acceptance of hierarchy, and preference for the status quo.
John Hibbing and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska highlight the fact that conservatives have a "negativity bias." They are averse to, well, the world. The entire world is a potential threat; their flight or fight reactions are on hair trigger alert. In this sense they are perfectly adapted... to the Pleistocene. But their fellow cavemen would have found them the biggest pussies... blood, poop, spiders, maggots, even the face of a strange person, quease them out.
A study by the University of Southern California and University of Virginia discovered, unsurprisingly, that conservatives have lower regard for mutual understanding, empathy and even the importance of peace than liberals, while having outsized respect for tradition, authority and in-group prioritzation (i.e. others don't count for much).
However, many social conservatives are clearly quite intelligent, just stunningly stunted in the breadth of their education, experience, overall awareness, and, certainly, compassion. They are famously uninformed, and they like it that way. Take Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann (please): these are obviously intelligent people, just stupendously ill-informed. How about George W. Bush? Imagine if you were the child of a family of great wealth and power, and could freely go exploring anywhere in the world. Where all would you want to go? Well, that was George W. Bush, a child of a wealthy family, but by the time he ran for President he had visited only one foreign country, Mexico, the one across the border from the state where he lived most of his life. As a privileged son, he could have thrown himself into the study of any of the loftier disciplines: philosophy, science, history, spirituality. But what captivated his mind the most was... baseball. Though George W. Bush was both CorpCon and SoCon, he shared the social conservative's general uninterest in (and devalue of) the greater world, especially people, places and ideas outside his shallow belief system. Yet, as we recall, Bush was rock solid in his worldview, inexperienced and uninformed as it was, a poster-boy social conservative.
But that's exactly the way conservatives like it. You know the old saying, "Ignorance is bliss." Conservatives take this as a mandate. This turns out to be one of the key reasons why they can seem so happy. They are happy people, so long as they are in their cocoon and yukking it up with like-minded SoCons. They never run out of things to talk about: there's the sports teams and NASCAR and the weather and last night's TV shows, and ragging on what crazy "libtards" are up to, and... did we mention sports teams? But they can't allow their curiosity to range too far or knowledge to become too swelled. They seem to instinctively understand that their ideology is a house of cards. One card found to be defective could topple the whole mindset. Broad learning is to be avoided because it can quickly undermine social conservative ideology. The wider world is to be generally avoided because it can quickly bring the conservative mind down. Better to stay mostly uninformed if you want to remain a happy conservative. You know, they don't call well-rounded learning a "liberal" education for nothing.
So SoCons conveniently avoid learning too much... even about their own beliefs. Most social conservatives haven't thought deeply about their beliefs, except to go round and round inside the echo chamber of their own social circle. (If they happen to live in a conservative area of the country, that Great Conservative Echo-chamber can be very powerful, indeed). Social conservatives prefer "bumper-sticker" (or "sound bite") ideology. Sum it up for them in two or three words or their eyes glaze over. Although the universe, and the world, and human culture are all incredibly complex, nuanced and constantly changing (evolving), conservatives just can't deal with all that. It's too much bother. For them, the simpler, the better. If it sounds good in just a few words, and jibes with their emotional predispositions, it simply must be true.
They also simply don't want to dig too deep into any particular issue because they sense (usually correctly) they will be very uncomfortable with what they might find. The psychological condition known as "cognitive dissonance," that queasy feeling when you realize that your worldview and mindset don't match up to changing realities, is an ever-present danger for conservatives who venture too far into the world of facts and ideas. So they stick to the tip of the iceberg of the most important issues of life, believing in the bumper-sticker, going along with the flow of the slice of society they belong to. Not without significant justification, these folks are known as "low information voters." A big difference between them and low-information FauxCons is that SoCons are more reliable voters and always vote conservative... guided by an array of dubious information, sometimes known as "Conservo-Facs."
"The Bible said it! I believe it! That settles it!" is quintessential SoCon bumper-sticker ideology: rigid, fixed, simplistic, uncompromising, unchanging, self-serving, mythological.
SoCons are often, but not always, very religious. The religious type regularly fall into the "fundamentalist," or "religious right" camp. "Fundamental" is a synonym for basic, or simple. Simple is a term for "not too bright." And yet, they can't even get the basic/simple stuff right. For instance, the real basics of the teaching of Jesus comes down to one word: love. But "fundamentalists" typically aren't too comfy with that most profound concept. Instead, they prefer the strict and punitive Old Testament narrative of orthodox Judaism to the love and forgiveness and non-judgmental New Testament tenets of Christianity. As to the New Testament itself, they skip right past all that socialist, mushy, lovey-dovey stuff, and go right for the most intolerant and damning extrapolations of Paul, and the apocalyptic, fire and brimstone stuff of Revelations. They fully accept - indeed their mindset is based upon - the notion that humans are awash in sin, and that God has a "chosen people" who are superior to all other people. Originally the "chosen people" were the Israelites, but now it's the Americans (defined, in their minds, as white, Anglo-Saxon-Protestants).
Someday Jesus is going to come back and send all those un-chosen people - that is, eveyone else - to burn in hell... forever. They're really looking forward to that. That'll be a great day of love, will it not? A disbeliever would be forgiven for almost wishing such a day will actually come... if only to relish the shocked and horrified expressions of millions of hyprocritical conservatives as their ticket to the underworld is stamped.
Religious conservatives do love the idea of hell... for others, that is. This religious conceit allows them to separate themselves from the heathen rabble, and explains why they don't want anything to do with a "social contract" that binds them to such others. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what their lord and savior Jesus Christ had to say on the subject. But that doesn't faze them. Their religious ideology is as convoluted and contradictory as their political ideas.
Most religious SoCons develop their religious beliefs by doing... nothing! It falls in their lap. They don't find religion; it finds them, and commences their indoctrination not long after birth. They don't go out and learn about the world's other religions to find the one that brings them closest to God. They don't go on a personal spiritual quest. They don't wander in the wilderness, or endure that "dark night of the soul." In general they are conformist clones and accept the religion that they are given to believe by their parents, spouse or some other close influence. In this regard they are little different than most religious believers all around the world. Isn't it a weird coincidence that most people born in America are Christians, while most people born in Iraq are Muslim, those born in India are Hindu, and those born in Japan are Buddhist? No, it is not a coincidence; it's the opposite of a coincidence. It is the self-fulfilling prophesy of the power of peer pressure and societal inculcation. It is the titanic momentum of conformity. It's clan mentality.
So one must wonder just how deep such a "belief" really is. When you haven't lifted a finger to see what all your choices of belief are... do you really even know what you are believing in, or are you just following the crowd, believing in believing?
As religion expert Huston Smith explained, "A nation can assume that the addition (in 1954) of the words "under God" to its pledge of allegiance gives evidence that its citizens actually believe in God whereas all it really proves is that they 'believe in believing' in God."
The hard evidence would suggest that conservatives really don't believe in God, or give "Him" much real thought at all. If conservatives really love God as much as they say they do, wouldn't they make a little more effort to learn as much as they can about God by understanding what other major religions and independent thinkers have had to say about the subject? But no, they are satisfied to take the easy way out and just buy into what they have been told to believe and/or what everyone else around them believes. So they conveniently believe that they have found the one, true religion, which by mystical coincidence was waiting for them in their own family or home town. And then it pleases them to believe they believe in it, fundamentally, and some of them will go to great lengths to find the most fanatical (and most judgmental) parts of the Bible to base their worldview upon, leaving behind all that love and peace stuff - which are the actual "fundamentals" of Christianity. Now these peace and love bits are precisely those that liberal Christians tend to value... so in a real sense liberal Christians are the more "fundamental" practitioners of "Christianity," while fire-and-brimstone, judgmental, prejudiced, fearful and greedy conservatives are really just faking it.
Let's take a look at one such conservative religious boob. Here's the "traditional" Dominator Hiearchy in action, folks. Fundamentalist pastor Steve Anderson, of the "Faithful Word" Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, clearly lays it out. Men rule over women. It's in the Bible. It's scripture. Believe it or go to hell, you heathens. It's a commandment (by someone, somewhere). Women, Shut Up! Don't speak! Don't ask questions! Don't even say, 'Amen' in church. Submit and obey your husband. Steve is speaking scriptural truth here, even if he's not touching a lot of other "truth" in the Bible, which is too crazy even for him (though he does support executing gays, as is required by the Old Testament). Steve doesn't realize modern society has moved far beyond this particular Biblical "truth" as well. And that's true!
Crazy, isn't it? That's conservativism for you... whatever "truth" it claims... it is far more likely that the exact opposite is actually true. Are you beginning to see how so much of conservativism is based on sheer distortion?
"There’s a cottage industry of people building careers off hating immigrants and the Latino community in general, starting with Trump but also Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingram and Todd Starnes, the Fox correspondent most steeped in manufactured, artificial piety," says former fundamentalist and George W. Bush voter, Edwyn Lyngar. Read his full article discussing his disgust with the religious right and its legions of faux Christians.
Yet not all social conservatives are particularly serious about religion, even many who regularly attend church. Some are what might be called "social" Christians, not really too interested in the dogma, but willing to play along for the social benefits, and because they have no interest in bucking conformity. Since conservatism is all about "conserving" old traditions and hierarchies, "conformist" is a virtual synonym for conservative. After all, it definitely does make life a lot easier if you just fall into line with what other folks around you think and do. That's why conformity is so popular.
This is true all over the world... in all religions. The vast majority of people who claim to be religious, even those adamantly proclaiming such, don't seem to actually truly believe - or even understand - what they profess to truly believe in. There's one bit of very visible, hardcore evidence that most "believers" are faking it: they go into deep grief when their beloved dies. Why should this be? In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic scheme of things, if the departed individual was a true believer they are now surely reveling in paradise with God! The still-living should be celebrating, throwing a big bash, deliriously happy that their loved one has escaped this wicked plane and moved on to the Big Show. But no. They wail in despondency. Are they afraid that the dearly departed was (like them, probably) not really a true believer and now is roasting in hell? Or is this whole belief system just a sunny-day proposition that quickly collapses when the storm comes?
And this shows exactly how "godless" Communists are also usually conservative. Like non-religious American conservatives, they've dumped God, but they sure haven't dumped what is really sacrosanct: the Dominator Hierarchy! (When and where has a "Communist" government ever remotely employed its theoretically egalitarian root philosophy, and not quickly organized into a ruling class and those who are, usually ruthlessly, ruled over?) The prime values of liberalism: liberty, equality and justice for all are myths in the Communist system, at least as displayed by those countries that have actually tried it. There is always very definitely an elite running the show, ordering everyone else around, living in the palaces and dachas while the proletariat stand in bread lines. Conservatism doesn't need God at all. Hierarchy, conformity, fear and obedience are its true gods.
"My Country, Right or Wrong!" is a famous slogan, common during the Vietnam War era, that illustrates the shallowness of conservative awareness and ethics.
The political orientation of SoCons is equally emotionally energetic and intellectually lazy. They'll get all wound up and wave the American flag like mad. They'll fly it from their porch and pin it on their lapel. They think of themselves as the real patriots. That's actually an utter myth and sublime joke. (See our Top Ten Conservative Myths: No. 1) They actually don't know a heck of a lot about what makes America America, nor do they really give a damn about America, except their tiny, myopic sliver of it.
If they love this country so much, it seems they would have carefully studied American history and closely follow all of the nuances of the major political issues facing the country. If they think of themselves as conservative, shouldn't they have a pretty good clue of where conservative ideology came from, who it really favors, and how it has figured through American history? Nope!
Most conservatives have never really studied and don't closely follow politics... or they puff themselves up with some assumed knowledge that is really just communal conservative disinformation, echo-chamber axioms, streaming from Fox News or the many conservative think-tanks or bombastic conservative orators... or the continual griping and sniping of other conservatives. Most often these political positions, or "talking points," are based on nothing more than sheer mythology, not factual knowledge. Though they may wax quasi-learnedly about the Civil War or World War II, most SoCons don't really know much about American history; and what they did learn was likely a simplistic, white-bread, jingoistic version of American history tailored by other SoCons just for their conservative sensibilities in the first place. Conservatives from the South and heartland of America are particularly vulnerable to this kind of indoctrination (the Civil War wasn't about slavery, you know). As you read this, conservatives are busy trying to rig textbooks (and Wikipedia) to skew toward their worldview, while leaving the world of actual facts far behind.
So what keeps this conformist, uneducated, disinterested, selfish impulse going strong? Let's look at the social mechanics behind social conservativism.
As good conformist clones, SoCons follow the herd. As a loyal member of the herd, they hear all kinds of reasons why they should believe in their herd. They are constantly being told their herd is the best! The other herds are weird, flawed, deviant, possibly dangerous. Like most herd animals, they learn to be distrustful and fearful of members of any other herd. They look to authority figures and charismatic leaders - typically blustering, macho, alpha males (but sometimes blustering, macho, alpha females) - for guidance and protection, and thoroughly enjoy being whipped into a fake religious or patriotic froth, which serves to reinforce their belief in belief.
Far from being the "rugged individual" of their own tall tales, conservatives are actually scared shitless clones who need and love authority figures, at least those that affirm their prejudices, to lead and protect them. They easily buy into the cult of personality, as long as that figure reflects their sense of hierarchy and mythology. Alas, their ability to spot charlatans is not very keen. So buffoonish religious figures like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (remember them?) hold them breathless, while political hacks like McCarthy, Agnew, Reagan, Bush the Lesser, Sarah Palin, Ron (or Rand) Paul, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, as well as shock-jock media cartoons like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly are expert at stirring their emotions.
Indeed, it's often the most outrageous, in-your-face, over the top leaders who easily win the loyalty of SoCons by seemingly belonging to their "herd," and then by exploiting three primal negative emotions: prejudice, fear and greed.
Fox News and conservative talk radio are broadcast juggernauts built around the cult of outrageous, authoritative personalities propagating fear, prejudice, greed and conservative mythology. Conservative viewers are drawn like flies to the sticky-as-molasses message that affirms their emotional beliefs. Often, the more wacky and outrageous the broadcast, the bigger that audience becomes... and the more money the professional conservative talking heads and networks reap.
These professional conservatives are long-practiced in crafting simplistic, bumper-sticker messages, infused with emotional triggers, that frighten and anger, and thereby hoodwink and capture the social conservative's mind. It's a negative feedback loop, very lucrative for the media pundit or politician, but very debilitative for the conservative believer, themself, who is being led further and further away from facts and truth and any idea of compromise or the slightest openness to alternative ideas. And this is why it is extremely dangerous for the nation as a whole.
Those that base their ideology on a bumper-sticker can be led by the nose to just about anywhere.
As Stephen Colbert regularly lampoons, SoCons mostly rely on their "gut instinct" and "truthiness" about what is right and wrong, but that instinct is fostered largely by what everyone else around them seems to believe, and is very easily manipulated by peer and authority-figure pressure. And this turns out to be their great vulnerability, and why they are so easily snookered time and again to actually vote against their own best self-interests.
One of the strongest "gut instincts," of course, is fear. Conservatives are the most fearful people around. Scientists have discovered that conservatives have a larger amygdala, which is the part of the brain that processes primal emotions like fear, and the reaction of "fight or flight."
A 2008 joint study from Columbia University, New York University and the University of Texas defined conservativism as "an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear... Similarly, concerns with fear and threat may be linked to the second core dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality."
What are they afraid of? Turns out, pretty much everything. The way the world works in general, for instance. Researchers have found that they can distinguish between the liberal and conservative mind by showing just one image to their subject. Conservatives have a visceral negative reaction to such things as blood, vomit, poop, worms, spiders. You would think that after four billion years of evolution they would have figured out that these things are natural objects, not to be eaten or played with perhaps, but not to be feared or loathed either. So, if you get queasy at the sight of poop, how difficult must it be to see anything beautiful in an ant, lizard or toad? When the sight of natural things makes you go a little crazy, how difficult does it become to bond with nature, other living creatures and the biosphere itself? And, importantly, if such substances are fearsome and loathsome, how thrilling to pit yourself against them in some sense, as in making jokes about them, threatening others with them, or intentionally harming them? Something to think about.
CorpCons know that SoCons are ridiculously easy to frighten, actually like to be frightened, and conservative authoritarian figures know exactly how to manipulate that emotion to keep them divided from other people and ideas. If you watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh you'll quickly note the ongoing effort to make their audience mad and fearful about something/anything out there in the world. That helps the CorpCons get elected and do their dirty work, but causes problems for the SoCons and the rest of society. Remember SoCons are the folks who know what God wants, so they will not back down. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the message propagated to the minions is certainly not "flight," or even "compromise," it's "fight." So you've recently seen Tea Party "wacko-birds" (John McCain's description) like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas rousing social conservative angst and fear over the "train wreck" of "Obamacare" or immigration, and not willing to back down an iota, even if it means shutting down the government and crashing the economy to keep from compromising.
Psychologists speak of "in-groups" and "out-groups," but there's another phrase which defines this group psychology: "clan mentality." Clan mentality is a mindset and worldview of a group of people who share racial characteristics, cultural heritage, religious beliefs, socio-economic conditions or other commonalities that set them apart from other groups of people who are in such ways different. Clan mentality is usually strongest in groups that seem to have an upper hand or perceived superiority over other groups, and the strong impulse is to maintain or expand that status quo by continual recognition and reinforcement of the differences between the groups. Thus comes "pride" in one's clan status! Pride, to a degree, can be a good thing. But if not mitigated by empathy and compassion for others (which by its nature a clan lacks), pride can quickly become a tool of narcissism, prejudice and oppression.
Clan mentality is essentially conservative in that it seeks to conserve a specific group's purity, separation, authority superiority... above all others.
In this way, systems of subjugation and domination have been established in cultures all around the world, and throughout history, and strict hierarchies of wealth/power/dominance have flourished right up to the present day.
Sociologists have long recognized that human societies are stratified into different layers of consciousness and empathy. On the leading edges are those individuals who are flexible, pliant and open to new ideas, change and diversity. These outside edges willingly interface with other individuals and cultures which may be very different in orientation (unconventional). But the deeper you dive into the interior layers of a culture, the more unmoving and stuck become attitudes, awareness and amiability toward exterior realities. Deep inside the culture, kept in check by the momentum and pressure of convention (tradition, stasis), are those who cling to old ways and are fearful of and resistant to anything new and strange.
Philosopher Ken Wilber describes this interior, less evolved mass: "If you are a member of the group - a member of my tribe, my mythology, my ideology - then you are 'saved' as well. If you belong to a different culture, a different group, a different mythology, a different god, then you are 'damned.' So this sociocentric or conventional stance tends to be very ethnocentric. Care and concern are expanded from me to my group, and there it stops."
We might grant that there was a time, long, long ago, when such a mentality may have been useful, logical and evolutionarily adaptive. There was a time when your little clan needed to be ever on alert for the Huns or Visigoths or Vandals or Mongols or Vikings or Angles or Saxons or Normans or Lakotas or Mayas or Incas or (fill in the blank of thousands of different aggressive human clans) charging over the ridge into your valley. Human "civilization" used to be virtually non-stop invasions of various "barbarian" hordes.
Thankfully, that time has long passed. We live in a MUCH safer, saner and more compassionate world now (yet another Conservative Myth is that the reverse is true). Clan mentality is now an extremely dangerous relic of antiquity, and clan "values" are selfishly warped and woefully out of date. The modern world doesn't even organize in clans any longer; we live in nations of millions of people, and we are interconnected through modern communications, commerce and culture with billions of people around the globe. Setting yourself apart from others, thinking of oneself, one's in-group, one's authority figure, one's religion, or one's nation, as innately superior to all others, and fearing or trying to subdue or exploit the rest of world is a dysfunctional mindset, and a pathway that can lead to catastrophe. Submitted as evidence: almost all of the great conflicts of human history, including the cataclysmic 20th Century experiments in overlaying nationalism with clan mentality: Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, both of which accepted the notion that they were the greatest "pure" cultures ever, when in reality they were two of the worst. Also submitted as evidence: America's ideas of righteous "exceptionalism" which has given it justification for rampaging and bullying and stealing and terrorizing around the world, sticking its nose in the business of almost every other country, stirring up a whirlwind of animosity, and sometimes reaping the sting from the hatred it has inspired.
Clan mentality must be overcome if the world has any chance of lasting peace and prosperity. Standing in the way of that ever happening are the conservatives (in every culture). They are not going to give up their perceived "superiority."
This is why conservatives are a drag on the evolution of culture. The notion of "reflective equilibrium" describes a process where deep reflection upon the true morality of a particular societal habit (say, slavery) eventually results in a revision of our acceptance of the prior tradition. Conservatives are always way behind in such deep reflection simply because they believe they benefit from the existing tradition.
SoCons have no idea that the way they think and act is actually clan mentality... and no clue that it is not superior. It's actually inferior thinking and behaving, backward, and dangerous. They think their worldview is just normal. After all, everyone around them thinks and acts the same way! They believe they are being good Christian people by believing and behaving as they do. They are completely blind to what truly atrocious Christians, and Americans - actually un-Christian and un-American - they often are.
SoCons say they support "traditional values." This is absolutely true. But what "traditional values?"
It turns out that the ideas that conservatives really believe in are not what the rest of us would consider a "value" at all. The word "traditional" simply means " an old custom." It often has nothing to do with actual "value." SoCons really believe in traditional clan structure, not what might be considered true ethical, or universal, values. Because they are really confused, the SoCons themselves are unaware of which true, ethical and universal values they really believe in and which they only believe they believe in.
The "traditional values" of clan mentality go way, way back, tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, deep into the mists of time and human evolutionary history (and therefore far beyond what many SoCons believe is the age of the universe). These so-called "values" are really primal negative emotions. Prejudice. Fear. Greed. Mix in a big gulp of Ignorance and reinforce by Conformity and Hierarchy, and there you go... you have a clan of social conservatives!
Primal positive emotions, of course, also go way back. Love, happiness, compassion, empathy, cooperation, curiosity, creativity are the primary impulses that higher civilization is built upon. Liberals tend to emphasize these emotions, while conservatives wallow on the negative side... in the very same way as they dote on the punitive parts of the Bible.
It is these more sophisticated moral and ethical values, including Christian and American values, that have been offered up by the greatest teachers, philosophers, spiritual leaders and political ideas over the past several thousand years of human history. These values emphasize love for one another, including - especially - beyond your own clan... fairness and equality above self-serving emotions, togetherness rather than divisiveness, inclusion rather than exclusion, open mindedness rather than closed minds. These are higher intellectual and spiritual values, and in an enlightened, progressive society they override the lower negative emotional values of clan mentality. Such values, in fact, are the precise opposite of clan mentality... they are values open to everyone... or universal values. THE CLAN CANNOT ACCEPT UNIVERSAL VALUES... because if a value applies to everyone, that defeats the very purpose of the clan, the clan is no longer needed, and disintegrates.
We can think of these as universal values because every individual wants these values for themselves, and they are now widely recognized as beneficial to societies and the entire human species. They are uniting values, good-hearted (empathetic) values, the values of democracy, and the shared values of most religions (minus the divisive dogma). Liberty. Equality. Justice. Peace. Love (even toward enemies or rivals). Forgiveness. Non-judgment. Unity.
SoCons say they believe in these values, too, but time and again we see that they really don't. Or rather, they are all for these values for themselves and members of their clan, but not so much for others. So in this important sense they don't believe in the core value in and of itself, but only when it applies to them... or their clan.
A recent case in point is that of Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman. For decades he was staunchly opposed to gay rights, in fact, he was outright anti-gay... right up until his very own son came out of the closet. Then, bingo! Portman had an epiphany. He saw the light. Now he's a born-again gay rights supporter... claiming that his new-found appreciation for gays is entirely compatible with his "conservative" support for individual rights.
Well, congratulations Senator Portman on finally dropping the scales from your eyes and perceiving the link between individual rights and gay rights... after all, gays and lesbians and transgender persons are individuals. Alas, the facts suggest that he would never have had this virtuous epiphany without his own son's gayness, and so would have remained mired in conservative clan mentality: deaf, dumb, blind, antagonistic and hurtful toward the sons and daughters of millions of other Americans. Portman was mean enough to withhold the universal rights of liberty, equality, justice for all to gay people... until a beloved member of his own inner tribe came out as gay. At that point his mind quickly cleared and he saw the light. He loved his son more than his ideology. That's a nice conservative. There are other conservatives who wouldn't do that... they love their ideology more than their children... they would have banished the gay boy from their lives! Whether "nice" or "mean," both types of conservative are confused, selfish, inconsistent and mean-spirited.
Meanwhile, the remaining conservatives continue to persecute gays and attempt to withhold the individual rights that Portman (along with Dick Cheney, whose daughter is gay) now believes are consistent with his conservative views. Actually, the only thing consistent here is the inconsistency, selfishness and meanness of conservative thinking. In embracing gay rights, both Portman and Cheney have actually left conservatism behind and become liberals on this issue.
Of course, most SoCons vehemently disagree with Portman's new stand... because to them gays are "bad." Heterosexuality is an important component of the traditional hierarchy. SoCons believe that only their hierarchy is worthy of conserving, and they are its defenders, the good and chosen clan, while the rest of humanity is awash in sin. SoCons feel the need to keep themselves apart from such sinners. Alas, almost every other individual or group outside their own clan also falls into the "bad" category. This is the root of their true beliefs... and their troubles with the world.
None other than Glenn Beck, himself, has finally seen the light!
He perfectly explains the SoCon drive
to conserve "traditional values" (in this case ignorance, fear, homophobia)
rather than universal values (i.e. freedom, equality, justice)...
and why they so often end up on the wrong side of history.
So now that we better understand the social conservative brain, it's time to take a look at some of the myths of the SoCons, and how their traditional values clash with universal values.
SoCons profess to believe in freedom. But only for themselves. And even then, it is freedom to conform to the ways of the clan. Step outside of that conformity, and even a clan member risks denigration or banishment!
What they actually believe is that because they are members of the preferred clan, they have the right and the privilege to conform to the way their clan thinks and acts. That's clan mentality. When someone actually acts upon their freedom through non-conformity, even someone within the clan, it makes social conservatives very uncomfortable. The clan, the herd, is threatened by such behavior. To function smoothly, all members of the herd should look, think and act alike. The precept of freedom is not a clan value. That's why Senator Portman and Dick Cheney should not expect much understanding from their fellow conservatives; their children broke the rules of clan conformity and therefore will be ostracized by the true believers in the clan... that is, maybe, until they, too, have a relative come out of the closet.
Glenn Beck (above video) says, "The reason they've won is they've made it about freedom, and basically everyone understands freedom. More freedom, not less." Duh! Yet conserving the "tradition" of bigotry against homosexuals - and in the process very explicity denying their freedom - is the very essence of social conservatism.
Of course, gays are just the latest targets of the conservative impulse to deny freedom to anyone who is lower in the dominator hierarchy, much less those completely outside the clan. BILLIONS of people worldwide and throughout history have been oppressed (and often exterminated) by conservative bigotry.
SoCons pay lip-service to equality. But this concept really ties them in logistical knots.
What they actually believe in is the traditional clan hierarchy, which is anything but equal. Equality and hierarchy are muturally exclusive. A fundamental conservative precept is that some people are just naturally superior to others. It's no longer politically correct to admit this as freely as conservatives used to quite forthrightly, but deep in their hearts SoCons believe it, corporate conservatives (CorpCons) even more so.
This belief in hierarchy, with its inherent superiority/inferiority (i.e. inequality), is the main tenet SoCons and CorpCons actually share, and it goes a long, long, long way to explaining their unholy alliance.
In the usual American schematic, white, male, wealthy, Protestant, heterosexual represents the very pinnacle of the hierarchy (in other contries adjust the skin color and religion accordingly: male and wealthy and heterosexual remain constants). SoCons fully accept this idea, even though they realize that they, themselves, might not be near the top of this "traditional" hierarchy. But at least they are a member in good standing of the best herd, the best clan. From that comparatively lofty position they can look down upon all others: anyone different, including females, but also people of a different culture, religion, skin color, disability or sexual orientation. Such people are automatically inferior, not to be respected or trusted, and subject to oppression or exploitation. So, equality just doesn't work as a value in a traditional hierarchical clan.
In the great tradition of the West, SoCons proclaim they are "rugged individualists." This is one of the funniest of all conservative myths.
On the scale of individualism, where 10 is extremely unique and original, conservatives stuggle to manage a rating of 1. Conservatives are the farthest thing from rugged individualists. They are members of a herd. They are frightened clones. Indeed, it is a basic axiom that the more conservative someone is, the more conformist and less of a "rugged individual" they really are, especially the males. This holds true from the Catholics to the Amish to the Baptists to the Mormons to the Hasidic Jews to the Taliban. They more conservative they are, the more they blend into one another. Eventually they share the same dress, the same hats, the same hair styles, the same beards (or lack thereof), the same customs, the same thought. The more conservative a person is, the less original, the less creative, the less truth-seeking. The word individualist is squandered on them. They are rank conformists! That's why, typically, they are not very creative.
Just look at them: all dressed in their uniforms, whether it be business suit or blue-collar uniform or sports team outfit. The men wear the same clothing style from birth to death. They have the same hair style from birth to death. At least the women change up their appearance on occasion. But the men, rugged individualists? It's a big joke, right?
"And the Home of the Brave....." SoCons sing it loudly because subconsciously they so wish. It ain't true. Not even close. Back in the real world, conservatives are terrified of everything! So it's no wonder they cling so tightly to their guns.
Fear is one of the great motivating factors for SoCons (usually propagated by CorpCons), though they twist themselves into pretzels to keep from admitting it. Encouraged by their macho leaders (who continuously exploit fear to keep themselves empowered, but rarely get anywhere close to the field of combat themselves), they bluster and posture and rant and rail against all those other herds and ideas that just keep coming at them (in never-ending and escalating waves). But deep inside they are petrified that the "other" is coming to get them, and they keenly sense their world is crumbling... which it is.
The irony is that they are right: the world is out to destroy them... at least their backwards mindset that threatens progress toward real, universal virtues. Even as the rest of the world is coming closer together, democracy is rising, liberty, equality and justice for all are expanding in country after country, the poor conservatives are like cornered animals, howling, growling, and sometimes biting, out of a desperate sense of disorientation and sheer fear. This is the force that leads some of them to the most horrendous behavior: prejudice, hate, bullying, lynchings, bombing.
And not just in America. The real terrorists in the world are almost all radical conservatives! The only reason modern "Christian" conservatives are not usually as violent (there are some exceptions: Anders Behring Breivik, Eric Rudolph, Wade Michael Page, et al) as their Islamic counterparts is because they are FAR MORE LIBERAL! "Christian" conservatives used to be just as violent as modern Islamic extremists (though they didn't have planes to work with). And certainly the Qur'an is hardly more radical than the Bible in its exhortation to hate, bigotry and violence. It's just that the "Western" cultures have largely de-emphasized religion, whereas some Islamic countries persist in being radically "fundamental" to their faith. Don't worry... liberalization is coming to the Muslim world, as well. It just may take another century or so.
Most SoCons claim to be Christians. If the term "Christian" means someone who follows the tenets of Jesus, then this is another big myth... one of the biggest myths of all, in fact! Most conservatives don't seem to have the slightest intention of following what Jesus said.
Jesus was a wild-eyed, radical liberal with a very complex message that is exceedingly hard to live up to... and the very early Christian church, called "The Way," headed by Peter and James, was an early example of a socialist commune. St. Paul continually urged his congregations, "Don't forget the poor." Bumper-sticker-thinking conservatives just don't get it. Or we should say, they don't want to get it. They are too selfish, too greedy, and too fearful.
The overriding message of Jesus was the exact opposite of clan mentality. He said let go of your fear, your greed, your selfishness. He professed love, forgiveness and not judging lest you be judged. "Love they neighbor as thyself." "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "Take care of the poor." "Blessed are the peacemakers." "The meek will inherit the world." "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
This is an inclusive ideology, an ideology for anyone... most particularly the downtrodden and oppressed. In other words, the message of Jesus is for those who are lower on the hierarchy... or are willing to intentionally place themselves lower on the hierarchy. Jesus was out to undermine the hierarchy... conservatives want nothing more than to conserve it. These ideas of Jesus are like fingernails on a chalkboard to the hierarchy. Clan mentality values the hierarchy far more than the message of Jesus. Clan mentality is pointedly and aggressively exclusive, and supports a hierarchy of superiority. Nothing could be less Christian.
Jesus' essential message was to extend your love and compassion beyond yourself and your clan to the rest of all of humanity. (And St. Francis urged us to extend that love and compassion to the rest of all other beings... an even more profound and higher level of spirituality). Yet the vast majority of "Christians" in history have utterly failed to even attempt this. They don't understand a whit of it. In baseball terms, they stand there in the grand stadium of Christian ideals, flailing at the plate, mugging back at their teammates in the dugout, none of them ever even getting to first base, all the while thinking that they are exemplary players.
The core Christian philosophy is effortlessly discarded by clannish sects in favor of a mentality that focuses on superiority, fear of and a willingness to exploit or subjugate "the other." Love and forgiveness outside the clan is heretical to clan mentality, and clan mentality is all about judging. Following the lead of their radically conservative leaders, SoCons cleave to the most punitive and divisive precepts of the Bible, cherry-picking their way around Jesus' central message of love for one another. This is why so many "Christians", including most SoCons, are about as un-Christian as it comes. There are Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Taoists, agnostics and atheists who FAR better embody the ideals of Jesus than these CINOs (Christians In Name Only).
NOW HERE'S SOMETHING TO PONDER: America is really just three things: land, people, ideals. And most SoCons don't care much for any of them.
As bad of Christians as they often are, social conservatives are equally lame Americans.
SoCons claim to love America. But they don't really understand what that means either. They think it means their clan, their own social group, or maybe their home town. That's just scratching the surface of what America means. They think it means their religious denomination. That's definitely not what America means.
To a real American patriot, the American landscape is sacred. Our majestic landscape and magnificent wildlife are something to be revered and protected. SoCons frown. They don't claim much affinity for the land, except perhaps when they're rampaging through the back country on their snow machines, wandering in their RV, or mowing their five acres on their new John Deere. And they seem to have utter disdain for America's only true natives... its wildlife.
Except when their "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) hackles are raised, their philosophical, emotional and spiritual investment in the American landscape is basically nil.
Ironically and tellingly, conservation of the environment should be the one area where reasonable people should be able to agree that the "conservative" way is best! The original "traditional value" is Mother Earth! If there is anything in the world worth being conservative toward, it is surely our home planet. But no, conservatives again show the self-serving flimsiness and inconsistency of their ideology by wanting nothing to do with this kind of virtuous and rational conservatism.
So once again, a "universal" value, that of taking care and responsibility for your own home, is cast aside for the "traditional" value of looting and pillaging, using and abusing, exploiting and subjugating. (There have been a very few conservative exceptions, such as Iowa Congressman John F. Lacey... and, surprisingly, Richard Nixon).
In this regard, it is the liberals who hold true to the root of the word conservative: to protect, to preserve, to "conserve" a "traditional value:" in this case God's most wondrous creation: Mother Earth. So it seems that the truest conservatives are actually... liberals!
What's up with that? Well, we told you in the world of conservatives, down is up and right is wrong. It shoudn't be a surprise that true, virtuous conservativism is actually liberal. So the defining characteristic of modern conservatives is that they have no clue as to what needs conserving. You see, conservative "traditional values" regarding the environment involve not conservation, not protection, but exploitation. To them, our planet is not a precious jewel of the Creation of God, but just another commodity to be conquered, dominated, subjugated, bought, sold and then... junked.
In the case of your "private property," you should be able do anything with it that you want. That's the sacrosanct conservative philosophical pillar of "property rights," which, of course, springs from the "traditional values" of greed. "I OWN this! This is mine! Keep away from it! I can do what I want with it!" Their own stuff is sacred, yet SoCons will sit idly by, and willfully approve, as the natural resources, land, native species, pristine beauty, grand diversity, livability and sustainability of our country (and the planet) is utterly ravaged in order to generate ever more garish corporate profits... or personal consumption... or, maybe, just for the hell of it. They don't give a damn about this America.
Conservative values don't include fighting against, or even getting much perturbed at an American river being polluted, or a smokestack belching poison into American skies, or an American mountain-top being lopped off, or an American forest being clear-cut, or an American wilderness being punctured by oil wells or gouged by mines or criss-crossed with roads, or an American aquifer being tainted by industrial toxins, or American native animals being used, abused, even pushed to extinction. Indeed, social conservatives thrilled at blasting every last Passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet out of existence; they intentionally tried to kill off every last buffalo, wolf, coyote and Grizzly bear, and cared not one bit that poisonous chemicals nearly wiped out the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. To this day they harbor not a whiff of regret or remorse for these crimes against the Creation!
Their recent conservative mantra of "Drill, baby, drill," is a transparent window into a sick ideology of not just quiet acquiescence but full-bore cheerleading for rampant, unregulated exploitation with absolutely zero regard for environmental concerns, a drunken addiction to fossil fuel-based gluttony, and the lack of a scintilla of concern for the natural resources, and spiritual, needs of future generations.
When it comes to exploiting the environment, SoCons imagine that it's probably a member of their clan cashing in on these natural resources, and that's just fine. Hey, somedbay it might be them striking it rich with an oil well or coal mine in their backyard! To such people America the Beautiful is just a tuneful ditty... not to be taken at all seriously.
In their lack of respect for the American environment and native wildlife, a shallow and ignorant and/or cruel and greedy side to their character is clearly revealed.
This blatant disregard for nature is yet another window into their true beliefs, or lack thereof. If they really loved God, wouldn't they be very motivated to protect the world that he created for us? Shouldn't those who believe literally in the Bible take some responsibliity for protecting the creatures that God commanded Noah to go to all that trouble to save?
Either conservatives just don't have that kind of common sense, or rather than God, or Jesus, what they really believe in is simply greedy selfishness. Conservative obedience to greed and clan hierarchy has turned them away from the most righteous, moral and sacred trust ever bequeathed to humankind: loving and protecting nature. As dupes and useful idiots of the CorpCons, social conservatives are partners-in-crime in the abuse and destruction of the very realm that most needs and deserves to be preserved - the biosphere: God's green earth and all its children.
Nothing - repeat, NOTHING - is more important to the human family and spirit than loving, nurturing, protecting the Creation (which includes humans). But "Christians" (along with the "true" believers of most other religions) would rather hunker down in species-centric selfishness and stupidity, dividing from each other, misunderstanding and fearing each other, and fighting to the death over musty scripture. Such is their interpretation and practice of the "love" that they all (falsely) claim is at the core of their faith.
Without doubt, willful, ignorant, selfish damage to the biosphere will be considered the most egregious of sins by their very own grandchildren... and all other generations to come. When it comes to defending the land of America, not to mention God's sacred creation of Earth, from its most dangerous threats, predatory corporatism and over-consumption, SoCons are selfishly, stupidly and immorally AWOL.
Certainly their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will also resent the wanton and wasteful burning of fossil fuels - as fast as we could dig them up - cheered on by crazy conservatives and their corporate puppet-masters. Such fossil fuel gluttony is now powering global climate change that is already ravaging lives... and will only get worse as those future generations inherit the Earth. How do you like those crazy blizzards, searing summers, unprecedented wildfires, February tornadoes, hurricanes in New England, and historic droughts, those FrankenStorms and Snowmageddons, and rising sea levels that we are already experiencing? So far, global warming is offering just a tiny preview. Just wait 'til you see what's in store in the decades to come! One of the great ironies of this coming catastrophe is that in America the worst-hit regions will likely be the South and Southwest... bastions of conservatism.
Drill, baby, drill! Burn, baby, burn! The generations to come will curse the deluded idiots who championed that mindset!
As for America's people, well, SoCons aren't happy with them.
SoCons have a dislike - or even hate - for a HUGE MAJORITY of real Americans: Native Americans, black Americans, brown Americans, Asian Americans, unemployed Americans, poor Americans, non-conformist Americans, alternative lifestyle Americans, feminist Americans, Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, Islamic Americans, Hindu Americans, Buddhist Americans, Taoist Americans, Sikh Americans, Jain Americans, Shinto Americans, Confucian Americans, agnostic Americans, atheist Americans, gay Americans, lesbian Americans, transgender Americans, Americans with disabilities, any recent immigrants (legal or not)... and certainly liberal Americans, who coddle and enable all the above.
The Statue of Liberty is a socialist plot!
America's people represent the melting pot of the world. The Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Such immigrants from around the world made America what it is... these people determined to make a better life for themselves and their children, and industrious enough, and creative enough to somehow make it to these shores. But that's not the way conservatives see it. Though Lady Liberty's message is all-American and entirely Christian, SoCons gag... at least when her welcome is applied to anyone other than their own beloved immigrant ancestors. Certainly clan mentality doesn't have any use for the tired, the poor or tempest-tost. Immigrants have long been one of the favorite whipping dogs of the SoCons, who, again, display their hypocrisy, selfishness and inconsistency: their ancestors were noble and brave to come to America, but all others are illegitimate.
SoCons also trip over America's founding ideals.
As for the ideals of America, social conservatives are in a state of complete denial of their befuddlement. The ideals and founding principles of the United States of America are: "All Men are Created Equal," "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," "Justice for All," "We the People," "One person, one vote" and "E Pluribus Unum" ("From Many, One") SoCons readily claim these values and rights for themselves and their clan, but they are ever eager to deny these rights to others.
That "All Men are Created Equal" proclamation has always been a thorn in the sides of diehard conservatives, who have simply never believed in it, but have been stuck with it since it's in the Declaration of Independence. They had better success demoting the democratic phrase "E Pluribus Unum," the original national motto, in favor of their theocratic preference, "In God We Trust." So, you see, conservatives are only beholding to tradition, the Constitution, or any respect for the ideals of the Founding Fathers when it suits them.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
For conservatives, this Preamble to the Constitution is a mine-field of explosive threats to their ideology. Included are not only the dangerous words "We the People," but also the dirty words "union" and "welfare", plus the disagreeable, likely profit-reducing, mandate of responsibility toward "our posterity." Hey, you know, screw those grandkids and great-grandkids if we have to sacrifice any of our material comfort and conformity.
Again, all of these high-minded values and virtues and rights are just fine and dandy... as long as they are being applied strictly to clan members. But once women, blacks, browns, gays, workers, poor people, immigrants, non-Christians - or any others lower on the dominator hierarchy - start chirping about wanting these rights, too, that's where conservatives draw the line. "America is for me and mine," is their true belief, "and all you other weirdos can kiss my red-white-and-blue ass."
Such is the real commitment of conservatives to American values.
So we see that SoCons actually have a love-hate relationship to America. They love their tiny part of it, and hate everything else.
SoCons claim to love America, but buy right into their clan masters' ideology of hating the government, especially when it tries to live up to those original American ideals.
They "love" America but not enough to pay very much, if any, taxes to support it.
They "love" America, but willingly allow the desecration of its natural resources.
They "love" America, but grow queasy when contemplating true American values for anyone outside their own clan.
They buy into the big conservative myth that government is not the solution to the problem but rather is the problem.
They complain about people who "blame" America for its mistakes and sins, while they, the self-identified moralists, are willing to ignore America's great un-American and un-Christian sins and refuse to learn from her mistakes.
They "love" only Americans who look, act and think like them, and basically despise all other Americans.
They take full advantage of the American economic engine, the electical grid, highways, airports, the water supply, dams and bridges, the internet, the fireman and the policeman, the postman, Social Security, Medicare, the Space Program, the National Parks, the Center for Disease Control, plus, of course, the armed forces, but they hate and fear "socialism", which is pretty much what all of these things are.
Even though they don't show any inclination to actually put into practice the precepts of Jesus, SoCons still think America is a "Christian nation." It is not, nor has it ever has been. Yet American ideals are complimentary to the major tenets of Christian love, forgiveness and fairness to all. It is conservatives who are so confused they don't realize their clan mentality is opposed to both American and Christian ideals.
American and Christian principles emphasize the importance not of the clan, but of the wider community, the whole. Jews and Gentiles, even Samaritans. We the People. All of the people. All of your neighbors. Not just the white ones. Not just the rich ones. Not just the Protestant ones. Not just the straight ones. Not just the ones you like.
In fact, both American and Christian ideals stress, most importantly, the commonality and shared interests between you and those who are different, or "the other." Jesus, as well as Jefferson and Madison and Washington, attempted to break clan mentality. That's because they were all liberals.
The idea in both systems, American and Christian, is to break out of clan mentality, and become a good member of a greater whole. This is true at a deeply authentic level: to become our best human self we must break out of self-interest and enthusiastically accept our responsibility for one another... and even beyond that... for God's creation. This is our sacred duty. It's our highest human self. Let's take care of each other, and our planet home.
Indeed, love one another. What a concept! We're all in this together. All for one, and one for all. Yes, be a rugged individualist (which, as stated, is nigh impossible for a conservative), but remember that your rights end where the next person's rights begin, and your rights definitely come to an abrupt end where the community's rights begin. The most authentic and enlightened individuals embrace a drive to respect and protect the people and the commons. The greatest individuals eventually come around to recognizing their duty, and desire, to serve others. The community, the nation, the whole, is more important than you. "We the People", "E Pluribus Unum" is the American way, not "it's my property, I'll do what I want" or "I've got mine, screw you."
For SoCons, clan-mentality trumps all. It is more important to them to conform to the herd than to think deeply about and embrace true Christian or American values. Their pseudo-Americanism and pseudo-Christianity are both a hodgepodge of self-serving, divisive, negative and punitive edicts which veer far away from the virtues and spirit of the real America and the truth of Christ's message. And so, they actually remain BABCs, bad Americans and bad Christians, often actually downright un-American and un-Christian, all the while living with the psychotic delusion that they are the true standard bearers for both.
As a modern political (or religious) philosophy, conservatism is an absolute mess. It's Swiss cheese ideology. Pretzel logic. It only makes sense as clan-mentality.
Like all true conservatives, SoCons have bought into the notion of preserving, protecting, promoting, or in some cases working to restore, traditional values, systems and hierarchies. They may be basically good-hearted people, but they don't understand that it is these very "traditional" systems and hierarchies that are contrary to both real American values and real Christian values. And so conservatives find themselves in a situation of eternal conflict. It's their clan against all others. It's them against the world... a world that in their mind is going to hell.
So they withdraw to their bulwarks and batten down the hatches. They double-down on their clan values, their own perceived exceptionalism, superiority, righteousness, morality, their own brand of divisive religion. Feeling embattled, they stand fast and determined. They will not budge an inch. They will not compromise, and they hate change (which is the only constant in the universe). Prejudiciously, fearfully, greedily, they cling tightly to their own herd, and look to strong leaders to rally them and tell them what they want to hear, thence being led around by the nose, even to the point of voting against their own best interests.
It turns out low information can carry a high price and hard lessons. Their strategy has actually not worked well for them at all. We'll state it again: Social conservatives are the biggest losers in American history. They stand against change, and against facts, and this is a sure-fire losing strategy. Their most cherished beliefs are swept aside by the tide of culture and the arc of history.
A 2008 psychological study of over 22,000 self-professed conservatives discovered several variables that predicted their conservativism. It's not a pretty list: Death anxiety, system instability, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, closed-mindedness, low tolerance of uncertainty, high needs for order, structure, and closure, low integrative complexity, fear of threat and loss, and low self-esteem.
Worst of all for the SoCons, they are deaf, dumb and blind to the clever tactics of the myth masters that keep them perpetually enslaved to an ideology that so often severely punishes them. The toxic alliance of SoCon and CorpCon has them believing it is patriotic to unquestionably support some of the most morally bankrupt individuals in the country, the very wealthy professional conservatives and corporations that laugh all the way to the bank after legally stealing their life savings, slashing their pensions, sending their jobs overseas, charging them 30 percent interest on their credit cards, denying their insurance claims, foreclosing on their house or farm, polluting their air and water, plying them with unhealthy meat and fat, antibiotic and hormone laden junk foodstuffs and sugar-poisoned drinks, conspiring to keep them satiated with mindless entertainment and dumb as a brick, sending their children to go fight stupid foreign wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with national security but everything to do with corporate profits, and then rigging the legal system to screw them over should they ever dare go to court to protest any of this injustice.
SoCon devotion to CorpCon leadership extends to utter blind faith in the CorpCon "trickle-down" economic scheme that has never worked - in the history of the world - for the Middle Class or poor... though it has been tried again and again and again for hundreds, if not thousands of years. This economic system leaves many SoCons in utter financial ruin. As well, SoCons gulp down the CorpCon Kool-Aid that debunks global warming and serves to protect the villains behind it - the fossil fuel and factory meat industries - even as vast swaths of SoCon territory (the South and Southwest), livelihoods and lives are being devastated by the early effects of Global Warming: wildfires, drought, rampaging tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms and other freakish weather events.
All of this... and SoCons beg for more. Despite all the evidence, they continue to stake their very lives on flimsy conservative mythology... propagated mainly by the myth-making CorpCons and their juggernaut media manipulation. Perhaps there should be some studies to determine if SoCons actually crave sadistic punishment. Certainly their determination to conserve the hierarchy, no matter the personal cost to themself, suggests a severe pathology.
It's actually a bit surprising that there are many SoCons any more. You would think that most human beings would have figured all of this out by now. The fact that there are still millions of them tells us three things. 1) Clan mentality is a very deeply ingrained emotional state for those who have not evolved past a certain mindset, and easily invoked by tweaking self-serving emotional strings; 2) Professional conservative leaders have masterfully exploited their many nefarious advantages to "conserve" the viability of their own creed, most particularly in their almost flawless co-opting of the SoCon herd; 3) Even as they have dominated cultural evolution, liberals have recently done a very poor job of consistently holding conservatives accountable for their rational and moral transgressions (that changes here).
Probably there will always be some SoCons around. Conformist, emotionally charged, intellectually lazy, self-centered, being a SoCon is an easy mindset to fall into. It's a worldview that coddles the selfish impulse. And so it is contrary to universal values... which seek to override that very same selfish impulse. As universal values grow stronger - and they certainly do in the course of human evolution - the tide of history will grow stronger and stronger against conservativism. Rightly so, the conservatives sense they are embattled, and so the continual angst, anger, bitterness, hatred, discomfort. What a terible way to live.
Someday, SoCons might just stop and reconsider their worldview, and realize how they have been duped. There's a better way out there for them and their children. It's called liberalism... or its called moderation... anything but conservativism.
And if and when they do reconsider their worldview, they might just meet, like old friends, the universal values they always thought they believed in, but now see they only believed they believed in, while they actually were doing everything they could to defend sorry tradition over true virtues.