The Four Kinds of Conservatives
For example, social dominators freely admit on tests that measure moral issues of right and wrong behavior that such matters are irrelevant to them... Altemeyer noted that "social dominators believe that a really good skill to develop is the ability to look someone straight in the face and lie convincingly...
John W. Dean
IN YESTERDAY'S POST, I explained that I, like many, have become a liberal over the years for multiple reasons:
I have, indeed, moved toward the left as I began to think more clearly about certain issues, while, at the same time,
Conservatives have also moved to the right.
But, far more importantly,
Those who give voice to conservatism—the think-tankers and email writers and Fox pundits and talk radio hosts—have abandoned many traditional values: especially the value of honesty.
They have become a group whose only concern is power, with no regard for the truth.
The result is that there are only really four kinds of conservatives left:
The intellectuals, the operators behind the scenes, the people who send out those dishonest emails, write misleading stories for Fox, and run lobbies or campaigns that tell big lies about their opponents,
A handful of serious racists and reactionaries who would not have much influence on their own,
A wealthy contingent, who believe their interests are being served by the movement, and
The ordinary, man-in-the-street conservative, who hasn't yet realized that everything the word "conservative" stands for has been subtly corrupted during the last forty years.
This fourth group is the group I used to belong to, and it has almost nothing in common with the other three.
One of the values we held, back then, was fairly simple: we valued the truth.
William Buckley would have been appalled at the email above. He would have railed against it, based on his conservative values.
He would, likewise, have defended Shirley Sherrod against the Fox network.
Fox either knew what was on the rest of that tape or they should have known—before airing it.
They simply didn't care.
If they could turn a story about:
how Ms. Sherrod learned not to be racist, some twenty years ago,
a brag about how she was a racist now,
...and make people believe it, great!
It fit their political purposes.
The end justified their means.
Never mind that a good person's career might be damaged.
Never mind that the whole thing was a lie.
The same is true of their relentless attack on ACORN.
Never mind all the good the organization has done.
Never mind that the tapes were fundamentally, and intentionally, dishonest:
that the "pimp costume" the film maker wore on camera was not the clothes he actually wore while in Acorn's offices,
that the employee he represented as willingly participating with him in illegal activity was actually gathering information to turn the film maker over to the police...
And that's all they care about.
These people are not conservatives in the old sense of the word.
They're opportunists, and liars.
They aren't actually conservatives—in the traditional sense—at all.
They've simply discovered that they can get the opportunities they want by lying to conservatives.
Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck wouldn't have lasted five minutes on Firing Line.
Buckley would have torn the little punk behind the Acorn videos to shreds.
And my money, in the long run, is on the man-in-the-street conservatives—the real ones, who, like Buckley did, still stand for the truth.
They're trusting folks, but they're not stupid.
My guess is that they won't be fooled forever.
They'll begin to notice that all these stories have a racist subtext, or a subtext of fear, or both.
They'll begin to notice that they're being asked, in the name of patriotism, to betray the basic values of America.
And sooner or later they'll begin to notice that most of the information they're being fed just isn't true.
When they do notice, they will be angry, and, this time, at the right people.
At least, that's what I think today.