What Liberals Don’t Get About Conservatives

What liberals don’t get about conservatives is basically everything.  This occurred to me this weekend while chatting on the political web forums.  Someone posted a news story of a crazed Republican School Board member going into a strange rant on 9/11, cryptanalysis, and George Bush.  Anyone viewing the video would be hard pressed not to draw the conclusion that the woman is undergoing a breakdown and probably needs some sort of mental health counseling.

Unless of course you’re a liberal who views that as typical right-wing behavior.

This could be dismissed as a comment of a troll, of which there are plenty on the internet, but I had the impression that the person was more or less sincere in viewing people on the right as crazed and irrational.  And there could well be a more or less scientific reason for this.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who has written the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book tries to show how morality is different depending on your political ideology. Reading a review of the book at a law blog, I came across this point:

One other point that I find really interesting and important about Haidt’s work is his findings on the ability of different groups to empathize across these ideological divides. So in his book (p. 287) Haidt reports on the following experiment: after determining whether someone is liberal or conservative, he then has each person answer the standard battery of questions as if he were the opposite ideology. So, he would ask a liberal to answer the questions as if he were a “typical conservative” and vice-versa. What he finds is quite striking: “The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’ The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives.” In other words, moderates and conservatives can understand the liberal worldview and liberals are unable to relate to the conservative worldview, especially when it comes to questions of care and fairness.

This struck me since it matches up pretty well with my own anecdotal experiences.  Conservatives get where Liberals are coming from, but Liberals just don’t get where Conservatives are coming from.  In the US, we live in liberal-land. The educational system is run by liberals, TV & Movies are made and produced by liberals, and most importantly, all of the major news media, either Newspapers, magazines, or TV news, are run by liberals (liberals can bleat, “but what about Fox?”- But that just shows Fox is an outlier). So I’m constantly, surrounded by the worldview of liberals. For me to take a test or pass as a liberal would be ridiculously easy. I could go to a Netroots Nation, Think Progress convention or meeting and easily pass for one of them. I know your buzzwords and prejudices. As Patton said, (and I paraphrase) “You liberal bastards, I read your book!”

All things being equal, knowing nothing of politics, people should tend to be liberal. Of course the caveat to that is all things are not equal, but you can see the power of liberal institutions to set the agenda. That’s why, in an attempt to turn the conversation away from Obamacare, the administration started talking about about income inequality,  The MSM dutifully followed along because being liberal institutions, they would rather talk about income inequality than Obamacare too. We really should be talking about economic growth and job creation but that’s not an issue that can help the administration or that they have any real ideas about.  But because we all live in liberal land, liberals never have to think about their ideology or challenge any of their premises, which is something that conservatives have to do all the time because they are constantly getting push back on their premises.

As if to double down on Haidt’s ideas, last week The Nation ran an article called, Why the Curious Right Wing Silence on Michael Sam? Some passages are well worth highlighting:

Yes, the crazies in Westboro Baptist Church and some of the more reptilian swamps of the right-wing blogosphere have let loose with the homophobia, but the mainstream has been silent. It is not just Fox. Doesn’t National Review or The Weekly Standard have anything interesting, or even uninteresting, to say about any of this? Nothing? Really?

The New Republic’s Cohn even put out a plaintive tweet asking people on the right, “What do conservatives & Republicans think about a gay player in the NFL? Honest question, hoping for positive answers.” He did receive a curt tweet or two in response, mostly of the, “I don’t care as long as he can play football” variety.

In other words, the left cannot accept that in political terms, this is mostly a non story on the right.  For them, this is HUGE!  The answer is too simple for the Left to accept. For them, identity politics trumps everything. It’s why they can’t accept opposition to Obama’s policies as being anything other than closeted racism. When the most important thing about President Obama is his race, how else could opposition to his economic, social or foreign policies be interpolated as anything other than racism?

On the one hand, it’s kind of amusing that the Left is so clueless on figuring out the Right that even the simplest explanations elude them.  But on the other hand, I really wish they understood what I was trying to say.  When their default to anything I say is along the lines of a mentally ill school board member, it shows how large the gulf is between us.

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Lilyhammer 2: This Time (Just like season 1) It’s Personal

With surprisingly little fanfare, Netflix dropped the new season of Lilyhammer into the my Netflix queue, giving me a difficult choice on how to prioritize my viewing considering the 190 plus other shows waiting for my attention.  I had reviewed the first season here and with season one I was left a bit unsure how I felt about the show. I ultimately decided to go ahead and power through it and if I hated it, just drop it out of season two.

Well I didn’t hate it.                 

In fact I loved it.  There was a major jump in quality, story, and comedy from season one to season two.  Part of that is that season one spent so much time putting all of the pieces in place that it distracted a bit from the story. Also, as an American viewer, I centered on the sole American character, Frank Tagliano, aka Giovanni “Johnny” Hendrickson, as played by Steven Van Zandt. But after a season, the Norwegian characters are coming into their own, particularly Torgier, Frank/Johnny’s business partner, second in command, and general idiot. Johnny and Torgier’s relationship evolves quite a bit from a simple business relationship to a fairly loyal friendship.  Torgier makes some huge errors along the way which jeopardize Johnny’s various businesses, but Johnny can’t seem get too angry with him.

As season two opens, Johnny’s capture of the Lillehammer criminal underworld (such as it is) is nearly complete.  He’s welded the tools of extortion and blackmail to such an effect that he’s got much of the town owing him a favor. Although his relationship with Sigrid is over, they have a cordial relationship and Johnny is stepping  up to do his part as dad to his infant twins, as long as it doesn’t interfere with time at the club and “business.”

I don’t want to really give anything away for season two, however it involves English hooligans, daycare, a Moose and a murder, a bank robbery by multiple Justin Beibers that put Johnny’s real identity at risk, a gay African cook from the refugee center, a Khat addiction, another murder, a cult, an engagement, reindeer games, and finally a fairly satisfying season finale that takes place back in New York, which pits Johnny’s new Norwegian mafia against the New York mob.  In terms of a season wrap up, that was probably one of the better season finale’s I’ve seen.  Too many times I’ve found myself disappointed with season finales.  This one hit all the major points I look for.

My only complaint is that the storyline with the new sheriff seems to be incomplete.  After blowing into town and taking the job of new sheriff, she unaccountably sleeps with Torgier; a man with at best average looks and no game.  She then introduces herself to Johnny by pulling him over and smashing out a taillight, in true southern sheriff fashion.  Although Johnny hands her a tin victory to try to get her off his back, it felt as if that storyline just stopped with no resolution.

Hopefully there will be some resolution in season 3.  Yes there will be one.  Netflix has a far better grasp on how many people are watching their shows than a regular Nielsen dependent network does, so there must be many more people who agree with me.

Those Interracial Right Wingers

Part two of the interracial Cheerios commercial was released for the Super Bowl, and of course, it’s adorable.

Of course, this was seen as yet another opportunity to pointlessly race-bait by MSNBC, which released this now deleted tweet.

Eventually, MSNBC apologized which is a minor victory in itself.

But they didn’t apologize before they had pissed off a lot of interracial conservative families, prompting this twitter hashtag # MyRightWingBiracialFamilyThat brings us round to the Volokh Conspiracy law blog, now run by the Washington Post.  In the post, New Evidence on the political views of mixed-race adopted and step-families, they break down the data on mixed race families using the GSS data, one of the largest social science surveys on the US population.  In fact some bloggers do nothing but mine the GSS data for interesting tidbits, so just about any sort of social science query on Americans can be teased out if you have patience and a familiarity with statistical methods.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.  The gist is that there is virtually no statistical difference between liberal and conservative mixed race families.

“Thus, there is no evidence in the GSS data that Republican, conservative, or conservative Republicans who were living with step-children or adopted children were less likely to live in mixed-race households than Democrats, liberals, liberal Democrats, or moderate Democrats in adopted or step-families.  Indeed, in each instance the point estimates for living in a mixed-race household were insignificantly higher for the right side of the spectrum than for the left side.

This is not really a surprise, unless of course you work at MSNBC.

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