You stand in the Bracken. Your pupils expand. What was black water solidifies; forms texture; shapes coalesce. Mydrasis settles in and you the colony materializes. Countless winged stalactites hang from innumerable precipices. The darkness is shifting as sleep’s slow breath beats a silent rhythm. You cast your light at the living void and a swell of skins and furs appears. It’s too much. You douse it. But then an ember blinks open. And another. And now there are constellations in this living night sky. And these stars are staring down at you. And they are part of the black but they have their own spirit.
I’ve written a rather, hmmm, reasonable and fair-minded evaluation of the conservative White American record.
(I add the racial adjective because while there are clearly POC’s who are conservative, I’m going to tackle that phenomenon in another post.)
Despite my published opinion on conservatives, I readily grant that there are right-wing people who are low on the terribleness spectrum. Most people use the term “good”. But I can’t behind that label. I admit there are examples of conservative people in my life who I consider kind and intelligent.
The most difficult aspect of dealing with people and maintaining relationships, for me, is that everyone you care about will let you down at some point and to varying degrees. And it might be disappointing enough that you question your opinion of the person. Depending on the reveal, you might even find yourself asking if they are a “good” person or if you even want to maintain the relationship.
So why do they embrace a political and economic philosophy that has an abhorrent record of abuses directed at marginalized people?
I’ll stop. I’m not a fool. I could cite you countless documents that show how conservative policies have devastated the poor; stripping them of rights, financial means, and dignity.
But then you’ll just fire back some sort of fake news defense. You’ll say my facts are biased and your alternative ones are better. The way things stand today, we can’t even have a discussion. It’s like two boxers who can’t agree on the fight terms so they can never enter the same ring. They remain in their respective echo chambers hurling rhetorical shit at each other.
Except, you know, my side’s obviously better. Or at least a lot less terrible.
I won’t condescend to you and assert that you have been grossly misled by obscene and amoral actors who have twisted a reasonable governing philosophy. That would strip you of your agency and I just can’t say the conservative people I care about are mindless servants.
But those people are good people. I know them. They were there for me when others left me behind. I have seen them be kind and good and honest.
I can’t explain why they believe in the Right. But as is my wont, I’ll try. I feel I can do so because I used to be a GOP stormtrooper myself. I was raised in the social and economic echo chamber. I absolutely know where they’re coming from. I know all their rhymes and reasons.
And now I will gather my maybe’s.
Maybe it’s because their socioeconomic class feels they have achieved their quality of life on there own and in spite of a malignant activist government?
Maybe it’s the right’s clarion calls of self-reliance, independence, and privacy. They are really nice abstract concepts. But like their polar opposite, communism, they melt in the heat of the real world. Not to mention the Right violates its own treasured principles on a daily basis.
Maybe they are just idealists who really believe they did it all on their own and if marginalized people were FORCED to do it that way, they would come out of that crucible enlightened with big checks ready to donate to the GOP?
(Yes, there certainly are poor and working-class whites who are loyal conservatives. But I wouldn’t agree that their lot is as severe or desperate as marginalized people of color. I’m not saying they haven’t been abandoned by the power elites but they can count on a much more generous institutional bias in their favor.)
Maybe, in the final calculus, it’s because conservative ideology posits that humanity is at its core good. If left with little or no government, people will trend towards ethical and moral choices.
I present the entirety of human history as my answer. There’s not enough time for me to list all the crimes against human dignity that have been committed by human beings. But it’s my firm belief that the core nature of humanity is evil. We are beasts and civilization was conjured to keep us from eating each other.
Maybe it’s something that can’t be argued or dissected or quantified? Maybe they just have the faith that their way is the right and Right way. With faith, there’s no empirical argument that can penetrate their holy world view.
They can hear their god clearly and clearly believe they are following their god’s divine path.
But they don’t seem to be able to hear the oppressed. As they crown monsters who fashion a cruel and selfish world, they walk over humanity’s abandoned, oblivious to their cries. How much louder do they have to scream?
I think I’ll settle on that because I just can’t understand it any other way.
Heart trumps head.
Evil trumps good, again and again.
The powerful abuse the powerless, as it has been through time immemorial.
I can see this.
I can hear them cry.
Or they will not.
The result is an ideological impasse that cannot be bridged.
Is the chasm really insurmountable? I hope not. But there’s not much hope.
My only way forward is to keep loving them. They are a critical part of my life. Maintaining that is too important and they are too important to me.
Before you think I’m going to go give 45 a hug, I have to add that my love isn’t free and it isn’t universal. In their reactionary tribe, there are creatures of light and creatures of night. Some have love in their hearts. And they are valuable and necessary. But I won’t turn my back on their evil brethren.
Love the good.
Smash the evil.
That is my compromise.
I’ll finish with Dr. King’s idealistic words. I’ll never be able to believe them but I’m very grateful there are still believers in this fraught nation.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.