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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On the notion of "closed-minded Conservatives"

Being an ideologue shouldn't warrant a scarlet letter.

Doesn't it stand to reason that a person's mind is - and ought to be - open during the time period in which they are searching for the conclusion? But then, upon finding an answer - or at least a formula with which to reach conclusions (i.e. an ideology) - there's no reason to be indecisive (i.e. "open-minded?) any more?

What those who mock ideology seem to be saying is that if you pick a side you're necessarily "closed-minded." Because if picking a side isn't "open-minded," then we're only left to conclude that it's "closed-minded." Why? Ever heard someone assert the euphemism that they pick sides on an issue by issue basis. Fine. Is that not then, itself, a formula? And why is it the case that simply because I am consistent with my picking of stances on issues (such that I continually find myself on the conservative side of the fence) that I - or any ideologue for that matter - must then necessarily be "closed-minded?"

Everyone's mind is open to the range of possible answers of a math or science question until they reach a verifiable and sound final answer. Why should political or social science be any different? Why can't it be the case that my mind was reasonably open during my younger years - when I'd yet to do my own research and form my own understanding? Why is it the case that because – after years of work in the field – I now have a formula for answering political and social science questions that works for me - one I've verified and re-verified with every single study or article I've ever done - that I (or any ideologue) must necessarily be "closed-minded" and ignorant and the indecisive and noncommittal “moderates” must necessarily be praised for their magnanimity?

Being closed-minded means being unreceptive to the facts and their context. It means forming an opinion on a specific issue before understanding that matter at hand. Those who are closed-minded are those who believe something, are unable to articulate why, and unwilling to consider/weigh other opinions. That's not what an ideologue is - that's what moderates and independents demonize ideologues and pundits to be because it makes them feel superior and more intellectually honest – which is, itself, intellectually dishonest. An ideologue is someone who has what they feel is a working formula to resolve the issues before them. My formula works. I've been pounding the intellectual and political pavement, crunching the numbers and the facts for about a decade now. I'm allowed to say, "Look, I've done a lot in this field. I use this formula because - time and again - I've seen it proven as valid and sound."

So, yes, I am unapologetically conservative. And while moderates and liberals may get a kick out of slapping each other on the back, pretending their superior to us - we're the ones weighing through hundreds of news articles and research studies every week to better understand the world around us. I never really saw my liberal peers in college taking the time and effort to consume the raw amount of political information I did. So to suggest that the antithesis of ideology (specifically conservative ideology) must be open-mindedness is, to be frank, insulting and completely without merit.

Look at it like this: in political science there are many formulas and schools of thought, amongst the two most broad are liberalism and conservatism. We take pleasure in noting the successes of the conservative formula and the failures of the liberal formula. We also take joy in proving wrong the frequently inaccurate assertions of liberals when they think they've identified a failure in the conservative formula.

And I might also note that it's not a "formula" because we mindlessly repeat its axioms with rigidity and ignorance. It's a formula - like any formula in math - because we can put variables into it and get predictable results – favorable results. It's a formula because it explicates a general relationship between quantities and qualities.

Formulas aren’t used when you portend to know all the answers - they're used precisely because you don't. So if anyone's closed-minded, it's the self-righteous, latte-sipping, holier-than-thou "independents" and "moderates" who use faux intellectualism as a means for ripping down the principled among us simply because we've found a formula that works and will admit to it. Ironically, moderation is – itself – a formula. So moderates aren’t just condescending when they rip on ideologues, they’re hypocrites.

Truly, "Liberals [and apparently independents] claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." --William F. Buckley, Jr.

In other words - it's ok to think what you want and do what you want... insofar as you think and value the same things as the super kewl people on t.v. Otherwise, if you get a kick out of something like the Federalist Papers or Federalism or *gasp* Conservatism, you're a mindless, opinionated, arrogant, condescending, closed-minded ideologue who hasn't come to tout an ideology because you engaged political science and found it to be the soundest formula - OH NO! that couldn't be it! - but because you're just too stupid to be a liberal or moderate.

That's the difference between conservatives and moderates/liberals. We mock commies/statists/socialists/liberals because they’re wrong and we can - and regularly do - prove it. We get mocked because our value system is different from theirs.

I've said it time and again, I am perfectly content to let people differ in their valuation of the facts, but I'm primarily concerned with making sure the proper and accurate facts are being discussed. I think that's true of most conservatives. Liberals want homogeneous valuation of what they want to present as the facts, and then get infuriated when someone provides an alternative analysis (a la the way Fox News is treated... “lol Faux News, har har har”).

Moderates and Independents invariably have a value system that - truth be told - could place them on either the Left with Democrats or the Right with Republicans - but they enjoy the self-inflated superiority of being "above it all:" more sensible than the ideologues, they take issues on a "case by case basis." The implication, of course, is that everyone but them does not. Indeed, the euphemistic assertion that they are "moderates" necessarily implies that everyone else is "extreme." Oh the chutzpah.
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