The recent slate of Supreme Court decisions, which continued today and not necessarily in a way that demonstrates or doesn't that the court has moved to the "left," has brought the difference between the liberals and conservatives to the forefront once again, perhaps more dramatically than ever. Liberals support Obamacare. Conservatives decry the ruling in favor of gay marriage. Liberals are outraged that a controversial lethal injection drug may still be used. Conservatives are likely bothered that Texans have a bit more access to abortions than what was legislated.
But we are an "issues" people, and we tend to get caught up in those issues without giving too much focus on the philosophies behind those stances on the issues.
And so, I am here to remind everyone about a simple and basic truth about conservatives: they don't want things to change. They want to preserve the status quo. And if their understanding of the status quo has been lost, then they want to return to it.
That is the perspective in a nutshell, and obvious though my comments are, they are worth reminding everyone, conservatives included, what they stand for. Like I said, we tend to get lost in the issues and to forget the ideology. SIDEBAR: If some reader wants to go after the liberal mind, I leave that to them. I am too close to those positions to convey their flaws adequately.
Yes, conservatives want things the way that they were. And the way that they were tended to focus on a white male-controlled society, so anything that does not jive with that perspective is not going to fit. So if you are wondering why there is support among conservatives for ideas as disparate as the Confederate flag, a "scorched earth" immigration policy, no increase in the minimum wage or in equalizing women's salaries, or even resistance to global warming, you need only return to the original mantra: conservatives do not want things to change.
People like me often refer to cognitive dissonance in conservatives, that notion that so many conservatives refuse to believe the evidence in front of their faces if it is contrary to their long-held beliefs. But we are wrong. There is no dissonance; we just think that there should be. Conservatives see the world like a Talking Heads song: "Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was." Nothing more, nothing less.
To try to distinguish or to equivocate between various types of conservatives--social conservatives, religious conservatives, fiscal conservatives--misses the point absolutely. Conservatives want things to be the way that they were. Whether it takes limits on social programs, a lack of ideological evolution, a biblical standard, or the monetary policies of the past does not really matter. All conservatives want to get back to where they once belonged.
That is why the modern conservative, in whatever form or background, feels legitimately persecuted. It is not a pose. It is a terror. We/they/someone has taken steps to remove the world that once was and to replace it with the world that can be. Is there anything more frightening to a conservative? I don't think so. Because the world that can be is not the world that is, nor is it necessarily the world that will be. It is a minefield world where any and everything could blow up at any moment with just the slightest misstep. Back when they ran things with little challenge to their rule, they were quite comfortable with the world that was. Why wouldn't they want to get it back?
I suppose that what surprises me the most is the young person who seeks the conservative rewind. To seek a world that he or she most likely never knew seems counter to the idealism of youth. But I am misguided again, for what are families, what is society better at than creating fear? In my own liberal perspective, I love to hear the stories of, for example, my father's past, but I've never had any desire to go there.
What liberals want at any given moment is likely confused and contradictory, even for those of us who carry the torch. But conservatives? That's easy. They want the known world, the child who says "Sir" and "Ma'am," the person who knows his or her place in the established order. I may have wanted that myself from time to time, but then I laughed at myself, for I knew that it could never be, should never have been.