Friday, October 14, 2005I had dinner with some friends from exurban Indiana last night, and they were bemoaning how hard it is to be a liberal in such a right wing area. They said what I've heard (and experienced) so many times before: that conservatives don't want to engage in argument, that they refuse to hear contrary evidence, that they have an almost religious faith in their leaders.
It is the psychology of conservative voters that makes the Republican party so dangerous. When your supporters will believe anything they're told and will trust you no matter what happens, it means that there is simply no accountability - that they have absolutely blank checks. And it precisely here that the corruption problem appears. No man (or woman) has an unquestioning claim to my loyalty- it has to be earned. The Theocons seem to find it comforting to have someone tell them what to do and what to think. This is scarcely the attitude of someone living in a Democracy.
So how do we deal with them? How do we talk to our friends, neighbors, and family that have drunk the kool-aid? Well getting angry won't help, and neither will yelling. It might be easy to ignore them or just change the subject, but this is abdicating your responsibilities to someone else. Here's what I believe - you engage them with the Socratic method, patiently revealing to them all the inconsistencies and delusions. And you do so with an eye not necessarily to persuading them (because that's not easy), but to demonstrate to everyone watching how ridiculous their opinions are. Because the people we really need to convince aren't the right wingers, as hard as that is, but the undecideds - who are just Democrats that haven't realized it yet.