Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conservative columnist approaches truth, runs away screaming

Ooh, there's a fun syndicated editorial in the Sentinel today!

It's by the execrable Star Parker, who, along with the similarly braindead Jay Ambrose, is a favorite of the S&E's editorial board when they're too lazy to write something themselves.

It asks the question Are voters moving to the left?. I bet you can guess Parker's answer already, but let's see how she gets there. It's a fun journey!

Might as well start at the beginning:
Now that Democrats have won the White House and have widened their margin of control in Congress, does this signify that American voters have moved to the left?

Many Republicans question this claim. And a new report from the Pew Research Center seems to verify that America is still a right of center as a country.

But the picture gets murky when you look at the details. And this murkiness presents a considerable challenge for Republicans who are trying to figure out where to steer their party.
See, Star, this is why Republicans generally don't bother looking at the details. It just screws everything up. You'd be much happier sticking with your first impression and making up reasons to believe it. Pretend you're Bill O'Reilly, he has this technique mastered.

Still, this "looking at the details" idea appeals to me. So let's see what's up.

Oh, here's the Pew report in question. Just in case you want reference material. I'll stick with Star's column.

First, she finds one bit of news that makes her happy!
According to the just published report, more Americans today call themselves conservative than liberal, and the relative percentages in each category has hardly changed since George W. Bush was elected to his first term in 2000.
Yep, the report does show people self-identify in mostly the same ways they did 8 years ago. So where does it get tricky?
When asked if the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent, only 38 percent of those who said they are "conservative" said yes.

And 50 percent of "conservatives" said they favor government guaranteeing health care "even if it means raising taxes."

Although 71 percent of "conservatives" said they oppose gay marriage, only slightly more than half, 52 percent, said that abortion should be illegal.
Oh no!

Apparently these self-identified "conservatives" aren't conservative in the way this conservative columnist wants them to be conservative! What jerks!

It gets worse!
[P]ro-life initiatives lost in all three states where they were on ballots -- California, South Dakota, and Colorado.
Well, obviously liberal California wouldn't go for it, but South Dakota? These "conservatives" are traitors!

So Star Parker is confused. People call themselves conservative, yet they don't believe the things that she thinks conservatives are supposed to believe? What's a girl to do?

Maybe give some bad advice to Republicans?
[I]t should be obvious from the above, that if conservatives are rooted anywhere, it's more in the social agenda than in the fiscal and limited government agenda.

Where in the world would the party be if the leadership tried to uproot from social conservatism?
That's right, Republicans. In this time of economic we're-all-fucked-ness, you should be focusing extra hard on your dumbass social agenda that will do nothing to help anyone.

That's just common sense!

She then goes on to jabber about some other things for a bit. And ends by.. umm... telling people what to think?
When most Americans say they are conservative, they mean it. Too many, however, are forgetting that this means limited government as well as traditional values.

We need new, energetic Republican leaders to get this message across.

Parker seems to have reached the conclusion that most Americans are being honest when they call themselves conservative, and have just forgotten what that word means. Perhaps she's right.

The part where this all turns to crap is that she wants to use it to suggest that people who call themselves "conservative" actually are conservative, in whatever way she defines that word. Which is nonsense.

If I don't know what a kangaroo is, but am convinced that I'm a kangaroo, that still doesn't make me a kangaroo!

Put more plainly, the label people choose to assign to themselves tells you nothing about what they actually think.

The Right has spent the last few decades trying (mostly successfully) to turn "liberal" into a dirty word. Why do you think we liberals have taken to calling ourselves "progressives"?

It's not because we're trying to hide our beliefs, it's just that the word "liberal" has been dragged through the mud for so long that all it conjures in the minds of most people is an image of Ted Kennedy, or maybe some corduroy-jacketed college professor with a ratty beard and a deep love of Marxist ideology.

So yeah, a lot of people aren't going to self-identify as liberals even if everything they believe makes them a liberal. There's too much baggage associated with the word. You find the same thing with people who are actually atheists but will only self-identify as agnostics or "spiritual but not religious".

They believe the same things, they just don't want the label. And who can blame them, when the label has been given a negative connotation? *

See, Star Parker got close to this truth. Somewhere deep inside that lizard-brain of hers she started to realize that just because people call themselves conservatives doesn't make it true.

But since more people call themselves conservatives than call themselves liberals, it's a nice myth to believe. So Parker chooses to believe it. After all, it allows conservative pundits to say "America is a center-right country", which keeps them employed. Never mind that it's not true.

The reality of the matter is that America is becoming a little bit more liberal every day. It's a slow process, especially since the driving principle behind conservatism is to stifle that progress, and conservatives control an awful lot of stuff in this country. But it's going to happen one way or another.

That being said, I totally support Parker's assertion that Republican leaders should firmly embrace social conservatism. I like voting for the winning side.

* Me.