Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can We Help American Conservatism Regain Its Sanity?

I think about this question quite a bit...but I fear that the answer is 'no'--not because there is nothing that can be done to redeem conservatism, but, rather, because there is nothing we can do to help.

On the other hand, I often wonder whether we might help by throttling back on our ridicule. It seems to me that there is little that fans the flames of anger more than ridicule. However...they are doing and saying an astonishing number of ridiculous things; and ridicule is the appropriate response. Also, humor can skewer irrationality in a way that even careful, sustained argument sometimes can't. When they're constantly sending us slow pitches down the middle, it's really hard not to hit them out of the park. But perhaps the value of kindness in this case outweighs the value of humor. Maybe--just maybe--if we toned down our ridicule, their hackles would settle down at least somewhat.

OTOH, it seems fairly clear that it's conservative anger, irrationality and dogmatism that got all this going; ridicule is more an effect than a cause of their problems. OTOOH, even if that's true, it might be worth throttling back on the ridicule somewhat. OTOOOH...maybe it wouldn't.

I suppose I'm with those who think that sustained electoral victories offer us our best shot at helping the right de-derange itself. However, defeat itself fans the flames of irrationality. And Rush Limbaugh et. al are like irrationality machines, pumping pure, uncut crazy into the minds of many on the right. So long as e.g. Fox "News" is beaming lunacy at a huge percentage of conservatives every day, it's going to be really hard to help them get their cognitive feet back under them.

Still, I can't help thinking there should be something we can do.

I consider the derangement of the right to be the biggest challenge that faces us as a nation, and I think we should spend more time thinking about how we might at least mitigate the problem.


Blogger The Mystic said...

I've always been attracted to the idea of being something of a moral beacon; all we can do is make ourselves (intellectually, physically, spiritually) extremely attractive alternatives to their self-imposed misery; their derangement is such that we can't coerce or argue them out of it. And surely it is the result of ignorance and weakness, for no one possessed of understanding and strength would choose to be like them.

At the very least, there is no wrong in seeking self-cultivation at an ever higher degree. Seems to me that focusing on ourselves and working as hard as possible is an answer beyond reproach. If they come to us, we can help, but if they are just shouting angrily, it might be best to not even engage.

So, for what it's worth, my best guess at an answer to this conundrum thus far is to take any desire to spend time disputing wrongs and instead focus on developing good.

If the whole of our existence embodies and reflects the truth, rather than relegating such reflection to our words alone, perhaps we will have more appreciable an effect. Pointing out faults is ever inferior to demonstrating their rectification.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

You know the joke, right?

How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

One, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

I think the main problem here. The sane people have abandoned ship and want nothing to do with the wack-a-loons running around like a bunch of entitled chicken-littles.

I have a ridiculous number of friends who *used* to be Republicans, but now want nothing to do with the party.

It'd be nice if all those ex-Republicans would get together and make a rational conservative party and leave the GOP to the whack-a-loons.

Then those of us who are far-left liberals can stop having to act like the moderate grown-ups in the room. (Kinda like the extremist Dems left for the Green Party.)

I know--we can all dream.

2:19 PM  

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