Conservatives Are Scared. What’s A Progressive To Do?

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Photo: Alex Haney On Unsplash

America is changing and conservatives are scared. They have plenty of reasons to feel that way. But that doesn’t make them what many progressives call them.

Indeed, a recent Pew Survey found damning evidence of conservative fears about the future. In nearly every way you look at it, conservatives seem pessimistic about the future. A future where America is MUCH browner. Where most older Americans will be broke. Where healthcare for all (single payer) becomes the norm. And religion becomes less important.

It’s no wonder conservatives are lashing out in incredibly irrational, violent, ways. What is surprising is non-conservatives reacting to this fear and violence with fear and violence of their own.

Progressive judgement exacerbates problems America faces. Conservatives are mostly helpless about it. Stick around I have sound arguments why this is so. And why progressives control what happens next.

Photo: The Author


The Evil Psychopath Who Also Is American

Some progressives I know call conservative Americans “evil”, “psychopaths” and “garbage”. Many progressives will not even consider dialogue with conservatives. Even though such dialogues, approached with compassion, grace and open minds, could benefit both sides. I’ve had many of these and all have been fruitful though I don’t consider myself on either side.

And yet, one side or the other must bring compassion and grace to the table. How else is America going to get past what is rending our national fabric?

Conservatives probably feel and believe progressives should take the first step.

I agree.

Here’s why.

First, I don’t believe conservatives are garbage. They’re not psychopaths. Nor are they evil. They’re scared. Calling them names doesn’t sooth their fear.

Understanding where they’re coming from can.

I’ll repeat myself: These folks are scared. Think about what that means.

They value traditional ways, preserving the past/what’s working (for them). Study after study after study show conservatives lean negative. They do not like “new” no matter how much better that “new” promises. Particularly if that “new” upsets what has been.

Conservatives may not admit it or feel it, but they tend to live in fear, worry and insecurity. They follow authority, which makes them easy to lead and organize. That’s one reason why the Republican Party is so great at political messaging.

So given all this, why aren’t progressives more compassionate towards conservative Americans? Why don’t they understand conservatives face a future threatening everything they hold dear?

For god’s sake! Look at the world today. It is changing before our eyes in ways not seen since the early industrial revolution! In conservatives’ view, those changes are not improvements.

Our changing world confronts everything they value. It’s been happening for a long time. But the changes have gained steam. Conservative leaders were wary of these threats long ago. They’ve been trying to stem the tide ever since.

They’ve succeed in small ways. In modern day: Trickle Down Economics, Citizen’s United, current Supreme Court appointments, and Trump’s White House win are signs of that. Given these wins, you’d think conservatives would be feeling better. But these successes can’t assuage the long-term fear that they’re still losing.

Which they are.

Even if you tally all their victories, including owning some dominant media outlets and upstarts such as, Brietbart and others, conservatives are losing ground in almost every major theater:

On Race: Brown people are winning. By 2050 America will be a majority “brown” nation. That’s a massive threat to conservatives, particularly white ones, because “brown” people trend progressive and for good reason. They’re usually on the wrong side of conservative agendas.

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Pew Research results showing glaring differences between priorities of the left and right.


In other words, intentionally or not conservatives have made themselves brown people’s enemies. Which brings me to the next point…

On Immigration: Immigrants are winning. It may not look that way right now with the Trump Administration’s walled-America machinations, deportations and detainment facilities, but immigrants are advancing. It’s no surprise “immigrant” and being “brown” coincide. That double whammy makes a win impossible for conservatives on immigration.

Witness recent congressional wins. AOC and Ilan Omar are just the tip of the spear. More and more women, LGBT people and other minorities are taking political offices. It’s a rising tide threatening The Establishment’s conservative core. A core that sees themselves as patriarchs of minorities and women.

On Economics: people who want something other than capitalism are winning. Wealth inequality is working in favor of those on the losing side of it. Just four years ago, it would have been laughable to think anyone other than Bernie Sanders would offer proposals so radically left leaning. Today, they’re not so radical anymore.

A $15 minimum wage, Citizens United Repeal, and single-payer healthcare for all are mainstream proposals today. AOC’s Green New Deal is becoming one too. Economically, conservatives face many issues, issues gaining significant traction. Conservatives are still asleep concerning proposals such as Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend“. If Yang, himself a minority, gets to the debate stage, some think he’ll light America on fire. This clip is funny…

On Culture: (especially on college campuses) “Progressive” ideals are winning, LGBTQ people are winning, and non-christians are winning. Conservative fears that US Universities are progressive bastions is factually verified. Conservative voices on college campuses are minority ones often drowned out by a 10-1 margin. LGBTQ people are finding their voices made more relevant via conservative backlash against inclusive bathroom policies. Popular television shows now feature so much interracial, gay and tans sub plots…the culture already has changed.

On The Environment: Environmentalists are winning. No matter how strident conservatives try, the environment is now front and center. This isn’t a “progressive” issue. But it demands changing so many ways the country runs, it threatens many conservative ideals. Including preserving US energy industries (gas and coal and oil). Emotional churn over climate change is so intense, even children are taking action. Parents can’t ignore children when they organize rallies, stage education strikes and confront elected officials on their supposed inaction. AOC’s Green New Deal may sound like a far-fetched idea. But 10 years ago, so was a $15 minimum wage.

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This tweet says it all (Source: Twitter)

On Culture Dominance. The patriarchy is losing. “Patriarchy” is the perceived (white) male dominated perspective shaping America since forever.  It sees women, minorities, immigrants and the poor subordinately. It exalts the mythical “rugged individualist”. Today it is being threatened by “we’re all in this together and we want a world that reflects that”. And given all the above and more, more wins are in store for change.

On The Future. The future itself is winning. Artificial Intelligence is going to destroy the establishment. The establishment’s basic foundation, debt-based economic theory, is on its way out. Early-warnings already are being sounded. No matter how much we try to prop it up, the status quo is over. What will conservatives do when automation destroys jobs their political base depends on, jobs conservatives campaign on preserving? It’s possible to cloak American coal and manufacturing job extinction behind political rhetoric. But other industries, especially retail and trucking jobs, and many more will disappear too.  It’s going to be impossible to conceal this.

On Sides: Americans are trending progressive. There was a time when Conservative Americans far outnumbered progressives. But that’s changing fast. Given all the above, the trend is going to continue. According to Gallup:

“The long-term pattern is one of a growing proportion of liberals, offset mainly by fewer moderates.”

· · ·

Take any one of these alone and conservatives might prevail. Taken together, they each amplify the other. They represent too many battle fronts. That’s why conservatives are scared. That and they see the signs. And because they’re scared, they’re fighting from Malcolm X’s playbook: by any means possible.

When people are scared, they act scared.

Think about what America did with Japanese Americans in WWII, what’s happened to Muslim Americans since 9/11. What’s been happening with Black Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation.

Conservatives can’t lynch, concentrate, or bomb into oblivion their perceived enemy. That’s because what they fear is not an enemy. It’s America’s future.


What’s A Progressive To Do?

Progressives need to understand that future’s inevitability, then act from that. Think about it. Do you humiliate and demean a child when they fear going to sleep when you know sleep is going to be good for them? Of course not.

You help the child fall asleep, right? You don’t call that child evil, violent, or a psychopath, no matter what kind of tantrum they throw.

You understand.

Bad behavior born of fear and insecurity doesn’t make the actor a psychopath, evil or garbage. Even when they resort to violence. The more scared conservatives get, the more violence the rest of us should expect.

That’s what desperate people do. Particularly if they feel unheard.

But that doesn’t make them “violent people”. Or “evil people”. Or “psychopathic people”. It just makes them scared people.

That is why, now more than ever, non-conservatives face a crisis. It’s a crisis of perception. Progressives are seeing their fellow Americans through unhelpful distortions.

Conservative perceptions and fears are distortions too. The future coming will benefit them. They can’t know that because their distortions and fear feel real and justified: they face losing a lot to get what they’re gaining.

I think what people on both sides need to do is bring to the table more understanding of the others’ point of view and less commitment to their own.

Is it fair to expect conservatives take that first step? Fairness has nothing to do with it.

Conservatives are SCARED. They CAN’T take the first step.

So who is it going to be? Who is going to bring compassion and understanding first?

Not the better person, the less scared person.

In today’s situation, that’s progressives. Not conservatives.

Conservatives are people. Scared people. They need help embracing the inevitable: that their world has changed already. They no longer get their way like they have in the past.

Progressives need to help them cope. You can start by not attacking them. Or calling them names. Try to understand them.

As a progressive are you scared? Get over it. Why should you? Why do I not show you compassion? Because you don’t need it.

You’re winning.

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