March 17, 2015

When have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take?

It's my hypothesis that people take the positions that are comfortable to them. Living in Madison, Wisconsin, I often wonder about the depth of the political opinions that seem to be everywhere. To express an opposing view would take some effort and maybe even injure your personal life, so it's easiest to go along and get along, even to adopt the views of the people around you and to avoid exploring the possibility of thinking something else.

These beliefs, then, which seem so entrenched, are actually  shallow beliefs. The behavior patterns and commitment to getting along may be deeply rooted, but the ideas themselves are fairly insubstantial. The engagement with politics itself is insubstantial. Why pay so much attention to politics when deviating from your comfortable point of view would only expose you to pain?

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences? Or has all your political posturing displayed you in a position that your friends and neighbors find appealing?

You know what got me thinking about this topic? Basketball! Over there in the basketball thread this morning, garage mahal — a Madison person — said: "The time of year when Republicans don their Badger wear proudly.....of the university and city they would like to see destroyed. On Wisconsin!" And I took a shot at that: "Oh, you know damned well the lefties would abolish college sports if they could."

That is, I tried to turn it into a political debate. I'm a little weird in that I enjoy being a spectator to political competition and making a lot of random observations. But I think most people don't enjoy fighting about politics. Sports is a refuge from that. It's perfectly easy to be on the same side as everyone in your vicinity. And the competition is fun and real — out there to be seen, not brewing and festering in other people's head — you can watch it and gab about it and feel cozily comfortable without any nagging sense that you should be thinking more deeply or showing some courage and individuality.

112 comments:

BDNYC said...

In many places -- too many places -- political conformity is a prized social value. It's an easy way to signal that you belong, that your neighbors can trust you, etc.

Life is more enjoyable if politics is not front and center. The less people think of politics, the better. Think about your family. Think about your friends. Think about the normal, small, everyday stuff of life in your community. You might find surprising common ground with people who would otherwise scream at the top of their lungs disagreeing with your political beliefs.

The political echo chamber doesn't just close minds, it pollutes them.

I think America would be a better place if people felt less sure of their political beliefs, and cared less about them too.

tim maguire said...

Appealing? My friends and neighbors usually find my political beliefs appalling. I've kept my mouth shut, in fact nearly always do, but I've never believed something I don't believe to keep the people around me happy.

Brando said...

I'd say frequently--very few of my friends share my political beleifs, and while many can argue respectfully there is an ugly trait among even otherwise nice people where they just can't fathom intelligent, moral people disagreeing with them.

This fixes itself over time--exposure to people you like who you disagree with gets you from "I don't see how Brando can hold such beliefs and be otherwise reasonable" to "maybe you don't have to be an ogre to believe those things."

I've never jeopardized a job or my well-being with my politics, though, as such things should never mix with politics.

rhhardin said...

Listen to Epstein on the administrative state.

He argues not politics but first principles.

From that you he gets politics.

rhhardin said...

In short, it's a women's argument that politics is shallow.

Paco Wové said...

"I tried to turn it into a political debate"

You didn't "turn it into" anything. GM had already established that tone with his initial moronic comment.

rhhardin said...

"Well, don't talk to women," as a boss once said to me.

I had the wrong opinion on feminism.

tim in vermont said...

Conservative in Vermont.

I don't express my opinions at parties, for example, because they would reflect on my host in ways that he or she would not like. I don't really give a crap what this or that lefty idiot thinks, but they do and I respect my friends' feelings. So I shut up and speak in whispered tones with people I have come over the years to find are like minded.

BarrySanders20 said...

It's a tribal thing. Both sports and politics. And religion.

We have our tribe and when challenged by outsiders, we need to rally together for protection. Those who question the rightness of the cause are made to feel awkward because it challenges the dogma and plants seeds of doubt.

Sports allows the politics barrier to drop, usually. Except when athletes or fans make political statements or when a societal issue intrudes into both, like race. otherwise, sports allows those divisive issues to be forgotten for a spell while we attack some outside group of morons from a different sports tribe.

damikesc said...

In SC and as a conservative, I wasn't beloved for advocating removal of the Confederate flag off the State House (we lost the war, it was an exceptionally dumb idea in the first place, and it had no benefits and tons of negatives).

Also advocating legalizing prostitution and marijuana has led people who vaguely know me to assume I partake in both. I don't, but as I tell friends, freedom isn't just what makes me comfy.

rhhardin said...

You can't convert leftists. They have to get mugged or otherwise notice that perverse side effects are the chief effects of direct action.

Growing up can do it.

CarlF said...

I am convinced this is a major reason so many Republicans sent to Washington moderate over time. To get invited to social events requires the person to not challenge the popular opinion, which in Washington society is liberal. Therefore, Republicans do not speak out in social settings for fear of being objectionable. Eventually, this "reasonableness" seeps into public settings.

sparrow said...

I'd say I do this all the time because conservatism is counter cultural. Lefties will often punish you for non-PC thoughts while conservatives typically let things pass. That said I only rarely speak about politics at work.

Nonapod said...

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences?

No. I'm a generally pretty risk averse person to begin with, and I've held the same general political beliefs for my entire adult life (with perhaps some minor modifications here and there). The only thing that has changed as I've gotten older is a deepening of my conviction that I'm correct. I know that as people age they become more and more immutable, so I'm sure that's part of it.

MadisonMan said...

People aren't really interested in hearing someone else's opinions on Politics, they're generally seeking consensus, an affirmation of their own beliefs.

Like Tim in Vermont, people who know me don't know much about my Politics. It's none of their business and I don't care to enter into debate with a close-minded individual who thinks me likewise. ;)

gerry said...

Well, here is a fact that must be making a Wapo columnist very unpopular in his political caste.

At least he had the guts to admit his error in promoting a lie.

Roughcoat said...

In Chicagoland's white ethnic neighborhoods where I live and grew up the only political issue on which everyone can agree is this: mow your lawn so your front yard looks nice. Because if the front yard for one house on the block looks trashy, property values will plummet for all houses, a bad element will start to move in, the whole neighborhood will go to hell, and you'll have to find a new parish to live in.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. Erin go bragh.

MadisonMan said...

So I guess the answer to althouse's question is: No.

Bill Peschel said...

"Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences?"

I was a political moderate on a newspaper copy desk. Does that count?

I even had one of Those Conversations with another fellow there. He was raving on about the war in Iraq and he came to a point where I knew something more than he did (I think about the presence of poison gas that Saddam still possessed). It was something I had read on the wire that day. Pointing it out to him caused him to stutter, shut down, then change the subject.

I didn't expect to change his mind, but it became apparent at that moment that a) he was a curmudgeon, period; and b) he needed to vent his bile at anything, and Bush was available.

(As for the political moderate, I know for this for a fact. One day, someone passed around a quiz on the issues. It was pretty wide ranging and everyone took it. The result was charted on an x/y grid: liberal to the left, moderate to the right -- can't remember what was on the y axis. Anyway, every person on that copy desk was to the left of 0,0 -- dead center -- except for lil ole me.)

traditionalguy said...

When in Rome do as the Romans do... or start a fight as Braveheart did.

The Atlanta Braves seldom play American league teams, such as the Boston Redsox. But I was given some high priced tickets off a ticket broker's site for the Redsox's visit. And we found ourselves surrounded by drunken Boston fans who were proud to be rowdy and hostile.

It was strange watching them claim that section was all theirs, and glorying in their mob strength in numbers.

I've noticed racial issues bring out a similar reaction from commenters on this blog.



President-Mom-Jeans said...

Bitchtits says something stupid about a University he didn't have the academic chops to get into? (or any college or university for that matter?)

I'm shocked, shocked.

Dare I say, I find that "ugly."

Ann Althouse said...

"He argues not politics but first principles."

Do you assume that the order in which a speaker presents arguments is the order in which the ideas were formed in his mind?

That would be naive in the extreme, but it's your setup to take another shot at women. What's at the foundation of your ideas about women? I'm pretty sure it isn't the first thing you will choose to write in your answer to this question.

Brando said...

"Well, here is a fact that must be making a Wapo columnist very unpopular in his political caste.

At least he had the guts to admit his error in promoting a lie."

Yeah I was pleasantly surprised to read that. I think it's important to note when you realized you made a mistake, and certainly hucksters like Sharpton could never do so.

rhhardin said...

Do you assume that the order in which a speaker presents arguments is the order in which the ideas were formed in his mind?

You didn't listen to it. You may not know that there are principles.

As to order, they probably are the order. Listen to it.

My ideas about women, try the chapter "Beastly Behaviors" in "Bandit" by Vicki Hearne, whose ideas they are.

What interests women is different from what interests men. They think and reason differently.

Althouse thinks its surface reasoning, and I don't. It's a sexual difference.

buwaya said...

I live in San Francisco, so I am not in sync with prevailing opinion, to say the least.
My wife is of a different political outlook also.
I have made a practice of remaining silent.
I have found quite a few similarly "silent" people. We know each other from surreptitious glances, expressions, and expressed interests.
I have found that almost anyone with a deep interest in history, for instance, can be expected to be a conservative of some sort. So are nearly all practicing religious people, Christians or Jews.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Professor Althouse: It sounds like what you're describing is what Tyler Cowen calls the fallacy of mood affiliation

In a related vein, I wonder sometimes if a comedian like Jon Stewart is ever embarassed by the audience's eager response to some of his tendentious cheap shots--unless you actually hated the targets of your ridicule, wouldn't unfair shots/low blows get a bit old and feel a bit cheap after a while?

Simon said...

Well, just look at that last thread, in which I'm (hilariously) simply presumed to be a Democrat and attacked as such. Any time you continue to apply a neutral principle that was lauded under administration X, you're going to be attacked by those same people if the partisan valence reverses under administration Y.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

rhhardin said...Listen to Epstein on the administrative state.

damikesc said...
In SC and as a conservative, I wasn't beloved for advocating removal of the Confederate flag off the State House (we lost the war, it was an exceptionally dumb idea in the first place, and it had no benefits and tons of negatives).


Interestingly I just listened (re-listened) to a Richard Epstein Econtalk podcast where he stated that the US administrative state was in many ways restrained by compromises necessitated by slavery, and that once the Civil War was over those restraints were lifted, leading to a vastly expanded admin. state.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Do you assume that the order in which a speaker presents arguments is the order in which the ideas were formed in his mind? That would be naive in the extreme,

Your assertion is undoubtedly correct for the vast majority of people, Prof, but I'm not sure it holds for Richard Epstein!

buwaya said...

As for whether my political position was hard to take - I don't think I ever had a choice in the matter. My political outlook was formed long before I came to the US, and it was that which was typical and natural in the society I came from.
So in my new land (of 25+ years), I am still very much a foreigner. Its easier I suppose if one was brought up as a foreigner, which all us colonial people were. Being foreign comes naturally.
You natives in a land of natives probably have a harder time.

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative who grew up the son of a union man, with a liberal Canadian family who voted socialist in every election, did a master's degree in English, and now live in California. My whole life has been a political position that's been hard for me to take.

Unknown said...

Once upon a time I thought that it was unconscionable to make a woman who was raped bear the consequences and therefore was pro-choice. While my sympathies still lie with the woman, I now feel the consequences of abortion on demand are too great for society to bear and my acceptance however insignificant in the scheme of things was grossly immoral.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences? Or has all your political posturing displayed you in a position that your friends and neighbors find appealing?

I think the question can also be answered without reference to one's social life. What I mean is that I personally haven't faced capital C Consequences for political views, but then I have a pretty solitary social life. In college several of my buddies were more Left-liberal than I, but the most that ever amounted to was some joking and name-calling.
I do hold, though, some political positions that are hard for me to take, in the sense that I'm uneasy with the necessary reconciliation between my beliefs/values and the pratical political position. I doubt that's rare--I imagine many people are uncomfortable with the idea of easy access to abortion, for example, but nonetheless don't want to make all abortion illegal. On a survey they'd count as pro-choice right along with dedicated, cheerful Planned Parenthood-ers, but for the former group at least this is a much harder political position to take. As a weaker and slightly different example: I'm pretty close to a personal-freedom 2nd Amendment absolutist, but I recognize that position (if widely held and adopted) could result in a larger number of innocent people harmed than might be under a different (politically-created) legal reality. In other words I recognize there's a non-zero chance that some policies I prefer could, if implemented, have some harmful consequences. If I thought nothing bad could possibly happen from adpotion of a political position it'd be easier (for me, internally) to hold, and I'm sure that's why most people have such a difficult time imagining or acknowledging the downsides of their positions--leading to the prevalence of so many perfectly predictible "unforseen consequences!"

garage mahal said...

GM had already established that tone with his initial moronic comment.

Conservatives are so sensitive. There wasn't anything untrue about my comment whatsoever. I could link to a dozen or more Republicans wearing Badger gear when they are traveling the state, during major UW sporting events. But, they all hate Madison and they all hate the UW. Not exactly a secret.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

buwaya said...I have found that almost anyone with a deep interest in history, for instance, can be expected to be a conservative of some sort

That reminded me of the Robert Conquest quote: "Everyone is a conservative about what he knows best."

Sebastian said...

"It's my hypothesis that people take the positions that are comfortable to them."

Because perceptions of comfort differ, this hypothesis is hard to test or refute, and therefore not very informative. Of course, some people like "showing some courage" and "dealing with consequences," not all of them "a little weird" for doing so, and therefore are "comfortable" taking unorthodox positions.

Even if "take" is taken as "express," the hypothesis needs qualification, for example because, as some have said upthread, it is very common for conservatives who are comfortable in taking their position to exercise tact and good judgment in keeping their mouths shut.

cubanbob said...

You know what got me thinking about this topic? Basketball! Over there in the basketball thread this morning, garage mahal — a Madison person — said: "The time of year when Republicans don their Badger wear proudly.....of the university and city they would like to see destroyed. On Wisconsin!" And I took a shot at that: "Oh, you know damned well the lefties would abolish college sports if they could."

That is, I tried to turn it into a political debate. I'm a little weird in that I enjoy being a spectator to political competition and making a lot of random observations. But I think most people don't enjoy fighting about politics"

Whats that saying about trying to wrestle with a greased pig..... so much for wrestling with our garage. On a more serious note, not everything lends itself to political debate. One has to avoid the temptation of seeing everything as a nail when the only immediate tool available is a hammer.

YoungHegelian said...

Since I turned to the conservative "Dark Side" later in life, and also since I'm self-employed, I haven't taken too much grief living in the blue-ey DC suburbs.

My nerves, now, that's a different story. What bugs me is not how lefty liberal many of my friends/alumni/whatever are, but just how stupid they are about it. I'd love to have them post on FB about the tome on Standpoint Theory they just read. Hell, I'd be thrilled to have them post something from Mother Jones or the The Nation. But, no, I get stuff posted from bottom feeder lefty sites that simply MAKE STUFF UP, and when you point out that the posting is incorrect, silence.

I read this stuff again & again, and I think to myself "We sat around the table & did Number Theory & read Kant & did Greek together. How & when did you get so stupid?"

SteveBrooklineMA said...

"To express an opposing view would take some effort and maybe even injure your personal life"

Yes, and I wonder how many people are wary of making political contributions because of it. Who wants potential harassment from loons who see online that you gave $100 to someone they hate?

Who wants his car keyed for having the wrong bumper sticker?

harrogate said...

"Oh, you know damned well the lefties would abolish college sports if they could."

That was just a silly comment anyway.

MRG said...

I work at UW-Madison and have hobbies that include interacting with a lot of non-student Madisonians. It's been pretty easy being a conservative. Just don't talk politics and it will rarely come up. Don't watch local news or read the incredibly stupid local papers. Also "unfollow" all your Madison Facebook friends so you miss reading their moronic opinions. All-in-all, Madison is a fine town.

buwaya said...

"I read this stuff again & again, and I think to myself "We sat around the table & did Number Theory & read Kant & did Greek together. How & when did you get so stupid?"

Most people have little personal stake in political positions, so these are usually adopted as a package with general adoption of the norms of the local society. It takes an exceptional personality to reject this, or a political issue that has personal resonance.

I don't think that your friends have thought much about politics, or philosophy, or economics, read much of these, or want to, no matter what they were required to do in school.

YoungHegelian said...

@buwaya,

But, many of these people are by any standard quite intelligent, and went on to get graduate degrees from "good" universities (it's amazing what can squeak by at Harvard!). Whether or not these people wanted to read "politics, philosophy, economics", they were forced to. I was there with them in the force-feeding.

I'm not asking them to buck the local lefty-trends where they live & join Young Americans for Freedom. I'm just asking them to be a learned & articulate lefty wimp! I know they got it in them!

Think said...

Being a Mormon who openly supports gay marriage (or questions non-doctrinal traditions within the church). It would be an easy position around many young Mormons, but not so easy around the orthodox.

Or, being the libertarian in law school. "No, I don't believe the Constitution protects the right to free housing for the poor..." I never expected that to be a controversial position, but from that day forth, I was the guy who hated poor people.

buwaya said...

"force-feeding"

Thats the key. Are they however actually interested ? Are they curious ? Do they like looking under the hood and figuring out how this all works ? They might have an aptitude to doing the work, but its no use if they don't want to.

Julie C said...

I live in the liberal San Francisco bay area so I usually keep my mouth shut. As others have said, we know who our fellow conservatives are and every once in a while we talk politics just to stay sane and know we aren't alone.

My liberal FB friends are something else. Just will not stop posting stupid Huffpo or TPM or Maddow screeds.

I have a leftist friend who works in marketing for a major household products manufacturer here in the Bay Area. She continually posts crap about boycotting Walmart! Her company's products are sold by Walmart!! I finally blocked her posts because I couldn't take it anymore.

tim in vermont said...

It is amazing that garage believes that the University of Wisconsin is wholly and completely a leftist organization.

No, it's not amazing, but it is remarkable.

Think said...

Or being a global warming skeptic in the company of scientists at work (skeptical about the seriousness of the problem, the ability to predict it, and about the risk/benefit analysis and appropriate political response).

garage mahal said...

Nobody gives a shit about your political opinion in Madison, or anywhere else. I've never had a political debate when out and about in Madison. You're not a martyr because you hold conservative views and live in Madison. You're not brave. Stop acting like you are. NOBODY.CARES.

garage mahal said...

(Nobody cares about my political views either)

tim in vermont said...

liberal FB friends are something else. Just will not stop posting stupid Huffpo or TPM or Maddow screeds.

I just shut off their feeds the same way I shut of the feed of a nephew or whoever, that gets constant "I love you" type messages on his wall from his girlfriend.

Rusty said...

Once you decided to eschew emotion and embrace reason and logic to view the world around you, you soon realize that you are in a very lonely place.

dustbunny said...

I made some contrarian remarks when I first joined facebook, mainly in response to the nonsensical lefty comments so common on my feed. I was under the mistaken opinion that people were looking for a debate. I found out quite quickly that it is just a cheerleading site, those folks just need constant likes and agreement. Also I was labeled as a brain dead rightwing bottom dweller for even gently suggesting there might be another more valid POV. I know this is common knowledge about FB and leftists but it surprised me at the time. So back then it wasn't hard to make the comments but now it is as it seems pointless to argue with the closed minded.

Balfegor said...

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences? Or has all your political posturing displayed you in a position that your friends and neighbors find appealing?

No, because if my political opinions are going to upset people I usually try not to express them. That's what voting (and the internet) are for, after all. And I was raised to be agreeable, and conceal my thoughts from outsiders.

That said, my coworkers have noticed that I'm conservative because they joke about it from time to time. I suspect they still don't quite realize how conservative I am, though, given that all the usual socio-economic indicators (well-off, California upbringing, lawyer, multiracial, urban, atheist, no car) would tend to suggest extreme leftism.

tim in vermont said...

garages is swimming neck deep in liberal privilege in Madison, so deep, he is completely unaware of it.

buwaya said...

Secret makers for right wingers in leftist circles - San Francisco Bay area, but may apply elsewhere -

- Owns a gun. Almost 100% reliable.
- Smokes. Easily 75% reliable in San Francisco anyway. Nearly 100% if its cigars.
- Owns a fast American car.
- Owns a panel van
- Owns a small business - 75%
- Is a contractor - nearly 100%
- Is a policeman or fireman - better than 80%
- Knows anything of military history.
- Shows any sign of having read Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas - just knowing who Aquinas is is almost 100%
etc.

paminwi said...

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences? Or has all your political posturing displayed you in a position that your friends and neighbors find appealing?

Yes, in local politics! I lived in the Verona School District and was on the City Council at the time I took a stand against building a new school. This was based on a school space utilization that a group of us in the community had done, after interviewing teachers (their comments presented anonymously in our statements) and many I worked with in this group had been on parent/teacher groups that helped develop budgets for each school within the district. We also had school board members in our group.

I was one of the more outspoken people from this group and the elementary school one of my children went to actually had a flyer about me and my family on the counter in the principal's office about me and my family and how other parents needed to help "shut me
down!"

I had threats phoned into my home and some were so bad that the police actually put a call tracer on my phone line. When I went to City Council meetings I was asked to call the police department when I left my home so someone could escort me from the parking lot into City Hall because of some physical pushing that had happened one night after a meeting and keying of my car.

We lost the referendum but it was a very close vote.

Ultimately, my children paid the price in the classroom for my taking this stand. They did tell me often things that were said to them about their mother by teachers and support staff. My kids still remember this time in their lives and I have been told by both of them they are proud of how I held my ground and how they learned to deal with people who want to bring you down for a stand you are willing to take even if it makes some uncomfortable.

I also learned from this instance when TV reporters want to interview you they generally know little to nothing about the actual issues and really have no desire to actually educate themselves about specifics. From that point on I put most local TV reporters in the "I don't believe you" category. Local anchors are not any better.

garage mahal said...

garages is swimming neck deep in liberal privilege in Madison, so deep, he is completely unaware of it.

Nobody in Madison cares what I think, what Althouse thinks, or what anyone else thinks. It's not hard being a conservative in Madison. It just isn't.

Krumhorn said...

I've been in the tv and film industry in NYC and LA for a long time, and I, don't conceal my conservative views. Of course, I don't advertise them either.

It's not hard. I believe that there are two reasons why Hollywood types are libruls:

(i) It's a purely emotional response to their social surroundings; or

(ii) They believe they can buy themselves some peace when the Bolsheviks gets the idea that they make too much money and live too opulently.

And it works. The street mobs with the pitchforks descended on the homes of the bankers, not Sean Penn's or George Clooney's multiple homes.

However, it was wonderfully ironic to see a staunchly librul writer and his wife descend in their Escallade with their friends from Beverly Hills to guns stores during the Rodney King "disturbances". They were determined to shoot rioters of color in large numbers if they ever left their burning wreckage in Korea Town to visit the western parts of LA.

- Krumhorn

mccullough said...

Garage,

The U-W is an enormous institution. Just because someone doesn't like the majority of faculty in the college of liberal arts or the chancellor doesn't mean they hate the U-W. Maybe to them, the U-W is the professors they liked in college and their classmates and hanging out at the lakes. Maybe they have fondness for students at the school who roam the campus they once did.

Just as people conflate an institution with a person or person at the institution they don't like, people conflate an institution with their own positive experiences.


MRG said...

Nobody in Madison cares what I think, what Althouse thinks, or what anyone else thinks. It's not hard being a conservative in Madison. It just isn't

The psychos care. The ones that make threats and vandalize. In movies, they're right- wing caricatures. But in real life, they're always lefties.

"WE WILL FUCK YO UP"

B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Internal, external, or mutual comfort? It's not easy challenging the established orthodoxy on almost every issue.

carrie said...

I never express any political opinions at all. I live in Dane County where freedom of thought and expression is not allowed. Many years ago we did post a sign on our yard opposing the building of a new school and it was stolen (censored!).

Anonymous said...

There is a reason why liberals/Democrats are found in the city centers and Republicans/Conservatives are found in rural areas.

The liberal position is for the shallow thinker. Hence the saying, "If you're not a liberal at 20 you're heartless, if you're not a conservative at 40, you're brainless." Or something like that.

When you're surrounded in a packed city with people you know are liberal, you keep your mouth shut, your head down, and trudge through. This gives the perception that everyone is liberal and therefore, people only hear one side of the argument. I mean, is there even another side?

But when you go rural, people are left alone with their thoughts. And when this happens, people tend to realize that liberalism is wrong headed to the extreme.

garage mahal said...

When you're surrounded in a packed city with people you know are liberal, you keep your mouth shut, your head down, and trudge through

Oh gawd. Just stop.

Brando said...

Facebook is a breeding ground for a special kind of stupidity. I try to avoid politics there, but it's hard--the latest bit of stupid was several people claiming that despite Hillary's e-mail scandals, they prefer the Clinton years' economic growth over the Bush recessions. When I asked why they thought Clinton made the economy strong and Bush did the opposite, they actually said it was because Clinton didn't get us into the Iraq War and Bush did, which crashed the economy.

These are people who have the right to vote.

I Callahan said...

After reading this thread, I've come to a conclusion: conservatism lost.

No one on the right side of the aisle is willing to share their opinions. Therefore no one hears them. Therefore, no one has a chance to understand a different view.

Conservatives. The Stepford wives of the political spectrum.

I Callahan said...

It's not hard being a conservative in Madison. It just isn't.

I think Garage is right here. But it's for the reasons that 99% of the commenters in this thread say: they keep their mouths shut.

I Callahan said...

Facebook is a breeding ground for a special kind of stupidity.

In addition to the stupid politics (I have a FB friend who believe EVERY single conspiracy theory that exists, no matter how implausible), there are also the scolds who tell you the bad things about all the things you may enjoy (the evil poisons in McDonald's Shamrock Shakes, how Joe Schmoe ate 2 Big Macs in one week, and now has cancer, etc.).

Those in particular are especially grating to me. I even commented on one recently with "Facebook, where people suck the joy out of life one internet meme at a time".

Balfegor said...

Re: eric:

There is a reason why liberals/Democrats are found in the city centers and Republicans/Conservatives are found in rural areas.

I think it's more that cities require people to live in very, very close proximity to one another. In an isolated rural area, why would anyone else care whether your shack is built to the highest fire standards? In a city, how could one not?

In high density cities, people necessarily have to share a lot more property in common -- apartment walls, common spaces of the apartment building, sidewalks, public parks, etc. -- which necessitates sacrificing a lot of personal liberty with respect to one's space and the use of one's personal property. If you live in an apartment building with 200 tenants, can you just trust that every one of them is going to take proper care to shut off the gas so your building doesn't blow up? That every workman will take proper care? Torts and contracts are great, but the amount you can squeeze out of a workman who does a sloppy job that leads to a building-wide disaster is miniscule compared to the damage. Better to have someone doing regular inspections for gas leaks and insects and other issues. Better to have regulations requiring that workmen be insured, so you aren't at the mercy of a condo board that decided to cheap it out. And so on. City life is anonymizing, such that one naturally has to place more trust in faceless bureaucracies and arcane legal forms to resolve disputes with strangers.

All this naturally renders urban dwellers more receptive to omnipresent regulation that infringes heavily on personal liberty. The authoritarian element in modern liberalism is, I think, a natural fit for urban life.

I also think urban living provides a weak push towards social liberalism, largely just by concentrating enough people together that like can find like. For example, the incidence of homosexuality in the population is extremely low, so if everyone were living in tiny rural villages, the likelihood of successfully matching up with another gay or lesbian would be quite small. A lot easier for homosexuality to become visible in a city with hundreds of thousands of people.

But the push here is much milder. I think cities intrinsically invite a certain amount of liberal authoritarianism. I don't think the same is true of social liberalism.

garage mahal said...

Do conservatives normally go up to people in public and ask strangers what political views they hold?

Balfegor said...

Re: garage mahal:

Do conservatives normally go up to people in public and ask strangers what political views they hold?

No, that's never happened to me. It's always (a) progressive activists with clipboards waiting to pounce on people getting out of the subway, and (b) people just randomly telling me about their progressive opinions apparently in the mistaken belief that this is a good icebreaker because I will agree with them. Never had that happen with a conservative, ever.

I live and work in pretty liberal cities, though -- I suppose it might be different if I lived in Salt Lake City or something.

dreams said...

"But I would slightly amend Ann’s characterization of their beliefs as “shallow” and say that the amount and quality of the logical reasoning behind those beliefs may be shallow, but the beliefs themselves are extremely and deeply entrenched—and that’s because, as she writes, “The behavior patterns and commitment to getting along may be deeply rooted.” For people who hold beliefs mostly for that reason, it’s a very powerful motivation."

http://neoneocon.com/2015/03/17/althouse-asks-have-you-ever-taken-a-political-position-that-was-hard-for-you-to-take/

buwaya said...

Blogger garage mahal said...
Do conservatives normally go up to people in public and ask strangers what political views they hold?

No, we usually look for subtle signals that identify others of our kind. Raised eyebrows in the right circumstances, the smirk at the decisive moment, a glance, a veiled reference. Its really all quite surreptitious.
Perhaps we need to adopt a handkerchief code, like the gays used to have. Granted, it may lead to confusion with such gays as may still use that code.

garage mahal said...

No, we usually look for subtle signals that identify others of our kind. Raised eyebrows in the right circumstances, the smirk at the decisive moment, a glance, a veiled reference. Its really all quite surreptitious

So conservatives signal gang signs to each other in social settings to let each other know.....that there other conservatives nearby? Strange.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Balfegor said...
Re: eric:

There is a reason why liberals/Democrats are found in the city centers and Republicans/Conservatives are found in rural areas.

I think it's more that cities require people to live in very, very close proximity to one another. In an isolated rural area, why would anyone else care whether your shack is built to the highest fire standards? In a city, how could one not?


It's a chicken-and-egg argument. I don't think city living makes you liberal. I think liberals are just more willing to surrender personal freedom for the cradle-to-grave welfare state, the security blanket of concrete walls and comforting sirens in the night. They know they can't take care of themselves, so they congregate where the state dominates. Conservatives, not so much. The rural does not frighten conservatives.

garage mahal said...

I think liberals are just more willing to surrender personal freedom for the cradle-to-grave welfare state, the security blanket of concrete walls and comforting sirens in the night

Or because that's where all the jobs are and where the opportunities are.

Madison/Dane County doesn't need rural Wisconsin for anything. I wish we would could secede from the rest of the idiots in this state.

Balfegor said...

Re: Tyrone:

I guess the question would be whether people who move to cities for primarily economic reasons drift from right to left in their political opinions. Has anyone ever looked at this?

buwaya said...

"So conservatives signal gang signs to each other in social settings to let each other know.....that there other conservatives nearby? Strange."

True !
It does break the ice.
A few exchanges of the "signals" and we can verify that we are in a safe communication zone, and we are free to talk of rifles, the %&*%^ governor, and etc.
I tend to get this among groups of fellows outside of San Francisco. A consultant from "the city" shows up and everyone is impersonal and distrustful. A bit of signalling, and everyone gets the OK signal to let their hair down.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann wrote:
Living in Madison, Wisconsin, I often wonder about the depth of the political opinions that seem to be everywhere. To express an opposing view would take some effort and maybe even injure your personal life, so it's easiest to go along and get along, even to adopt the views of the people around you and to avoid exploring the possibility of thinking something else.


A Community of Cowards, then?

buwaya said...

Cities like Madison, and most certainly San Francisco, New York, etc., are parasitic on the productive economy of the hinterlands.
This is not a new observation at all, and was in fact quite a left wing trope for many years.
Essentially a city like this in the modern sense, which lives on services and not manufacturing, is really a collection of rentiers, direct or indirect. That is, people living off revenues from productive assets. Aristocrats collecting rents from their serfs, etc.
The natural split, rather, is for the hinterland to expel the city.
This situation has many implications.

grackle said...

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences?

I was run off a poetry forum because I expressed an opinion that was interpreted as pro-Israel. I knew it would cause some kind of negative response but I did not expect to be banned. The ad hominem before the actual banning was weird in its level of ferocity. No one on the forum came to my defense. Lefty poets really, really hate Israel.

Also, I chose to leave a blog(much like this blog) where I was characterized as mentally unbalanced by the owner, who is a professional counselor, because I debated commentors who were urging violence against the Left. If you are a blog owner it's easy to get rid of me. Just let me know I'm not welcome and I'm gone.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

It is actually pretty easy to be a Conservative, because, unlike Liberals, we have mentally integrated our principles, and have few if any contradictions. Thus, our minds are more at peace.

For example: our position on 'monopolies'. We're against them. Everywhere. In business. In government.

This means we are 'pro choice'. Give people choices. Monopolies are the very antithesis of that.

Free markets create consumer choice. We're for them. Crony capitalism (marriage of companies and government favors), we're against that. Strongly.

Forced 'joining' in a Union Shop? We're against it. Such a Union is a monopoly. Give the workers the choice.

Government? We're for it, at 50 individual State levels and countless locals. The huge Federal government has all the features of a monopoly. We're against monopolies, so we are against a leviathan Fed.

Consistent. Integrated principles.

Something a Liberal just can't do. Their views and 'principles' are all over the place. That's why their head hurts. That's why they are so angry all the time. It's called cognitive dissonance. And it hurts.

Beldar said...

My grandfather, father & I were all Republicans in Dawson County, Texas, during the long decades when Texas was a one-party state run by the Democrats.

None of our positions were comfortable.

Anonymous said...

No, that's never happened to me. It's always (a) progressive activists with clipboards waiting to pounce on people getting out of the subway, and (b) people just randomly telling me about their progressive opinions apparently in the mistaken belief that this is a good icebreaker because I will agree with them. Never had that happen with a conservative, ever.

This is pretty common in Seattle. If you want to say, loudly, what a terrible President Bush was, you'll have no issues.

If someone ever talks about Obama though, it's generally in hushed tones or followed up rapidly with, "He's just as bad as Bush!"

Quaestor said...

rhhardin wrote: You can't covert leftists.

Swift put it succinctly, "Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired..."

Anonymous said...

I park in a parking garage with 8 floors downtown Seattle.

For approximately 4 years I had a bumper sticker that said, "Honk if you're paying my Mortgage." that I got from the TN Republican party all those years ago.

I still get a lot of flack for that today. Everyone knows who the crazy Tea Partier is in the building. It's almost funny how people think I'm the caricature they have heard about on SNL and the way they approach me.

It's also interesting how some people secretly and a bit nervously tell me that they agree with me.

The liberal view is celebrated, the conservative view? Not so much.

garage mahal said...

Cities like Madison, and most certainly San Francisco, New York, etc., are parasitic on the productive economy of the hinterlands.

Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find.

buwaya said...

On the social atmosphere of liberal cities -

This is a really excellent film -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridicule

It describes our situation today almost precisely. We live in a state of intra-aristocratic competition, much of which is through the mechanism of social ostracism. This decadent system sits on top of, and oppresses, the productive hinterlands. We have not just one court of Versailles, but many, large and small. They all work more or less the same way though.

buwaya said...

I don't have to, I do the same across rural and small town California.
The economy there has been depressed for 20+ years, and is not improving. The coastal cities have just been accumulating rentiers making their living elsewhere.
And I have done the same across North Carolina, Texas, etc. I have seen thriving industries in industrial parks, thriving agriculture, heavy traffic moving goods, all one would like to see.

damikesc said...

It's not hard being a conservative in Madison. It just isn't.

Simple question:

How the hell would YOU know?

You aren't a conservative. Just because YOU think you're brainwashed lemmings are pleasant enough doesn't mean people they don't agree with are treated as well.

Looking at the Act 10 protests, I can't imagine why anybody would ever want to go to Madison.

garage mahal said...

What a bunch of babies. LOL.

Curious George said...

"That is, I tried to turn it into a political debate."

Seems garage did that first.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
I think liberals are just more willing to surrender personal freedom for the cradle-to-grave welfare state, the security blanket of concrete walls and comforting sirens in the night

Or because that's where all the jobs are and where the opportunities are.

Madison/Dane County doesn't need rural Wisconsin for anything. I wish we would could secede from the rest of the idiots in this state."

This is a perfect example of how stupid you are. Madison/ Dane county is flush with cash because of two things...the UW, and State government. The vast majority of the money comes from outside Dane County.

Moron.

garage mahal said...
Cities like Madison, and most certainly San Francisco, New York, etc., are parasitic on the productive economy of the hinterlands.

"Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find."

You drink milk? Eat cheese? Corn or soy in it's million forms? Hunt, fish, hike?

All products of a productive economy you twit.

Really, you make morons feel special.

Revenant said...

This is pretty common in Seattle. If you want to say, loudly, what a terrible President Bush was, you'll have no issues.

That was my experience when I visited Seattle in the early 2000s. It seemed like every store -- whatever else it might have had for sale -- was guaranteed to have some sort of "Bush sucks" merchandise.

Nice city, though, apart from its politics.

Meade said...

garage mahal said...
"Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find."

Bullshit! No, I mean it — manure that is, black gold, Sheboygan tea.

Kin folk said "garage, move away from there."
And so he did. (Durn fool garage.)

n.n said...

eric:

The untold truth is that fiscal liberals are a fairytale, similar to storks that deliver babies, and dodo dynasties. There is no one who welcomes involuntary redistribution schemes; political schemes that exploit the product of personal labor; other than those who receive a positive return on minimal and even negative investment. This is why so-called fiscal liberals prefer to realize redistributive change at higher levels, preferably at the federal level where labor and capital are cheap, and the consequences of devaluing each are diffused and removed.

Drago said...

Today's Madison lefty, garage sputterd: "Nobody gives a shit about your political opinion in Madison, or anywhere else"

and "Nobody in Madison cares what I think, what Althouse thinks, or what anyone else thinks."

And yet, and yet, we have this.

Now, 2 points.

1) We have evidence, and then we have garages online "testimony". The conclusion thus becomes obvious.

2) That is some heavy "not caring" going on!

Drago said...

garage mahal: ""Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find."

Steel I-beams, which by the way cannot be melted by fire, arise magically right out of San Francisco bay and float majestically to their intended touchdown points.

Food grows untended and profitably on the sides of tenement homes in Cleveland where the bounty of the concrete jungle is gathered up amidst the giggling and squealing of our delighted children.

Who among us doesn't rejoice at the land within Detroit city limits that have been returned to the agrarian splendor that God intended.

Somewhere Pol Pot sheds a tear of joy.

Drago said...

BTW, whatever became of vbspurs?

Big Mike said...

When have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take?

Leaving out the times when I've had to admit to myself I was wrong about something, the answer is "never." I don't trim my sails according to who's around me. Liberals have to worry about groupthink. I despise them and their political correctness.

Anonymous said...

When has it been otherwise?

I grew up and lived in blue central and held a libertarian position for many years (which, of course, is misinterpreted as a Republican or conservative position there). My sister still gives me shit at Thanksgiving for positions I took at 15 years old.

As I became involved with online, conservative-leaning communities, I still held deeply, pro-female, pro-choice POVs that were anathema there as well as any traditional religion I got near.

As I gained economic and business experience, I slowly grew more radical on some issues until I'm now much closer to a Occupy/Chomsky libertarian socialist than I ever thought I would be.

So yeah, never been anything, but uncomfortable as far as that goes. I haven't paid attention to it in years.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find."

Add paper to the rural mix...huge industry in WI. Hell, huge in your hometown.

Moron.

Simon said...

Drago said...
"BTW, whatever became of vbspurs?"

Sometimes active on Twitter.

Original Mike said...

"garage mahal said...
Take a drive through rural Wisconsin and you let me know what productive economy you find."

Fracking sand, iron ore, ... oh, wait.

You would prohibit them from producing resources people need and would pay for.

MisterBuddwing said...

When I was a kid, I read a juvenile edition of John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage." (Yes, I know, most of it was supposedly ghost-written by Theodore Sorenson, but most of "Six Crises" was ghost-written as well, no? But I digress.)

The chapter that impressed me the most was about Edmund G. Ross, the Kansas Republican whose vote blocked the conviction of President Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial.

I recall Kennedy/Sorenson quoting Ross' recollection of the moment he prepared to say "not guilty":

I almost literally looked down into my open grave. Friendships, position, fortune, everything that makes life desirable to an ambitious man were about to be swept away by the breath of my mouth, perhaps forever.

Now, I'm fully aware that some historians argue that Ross' 'no' vote was not so much the result of personal courage but rather political chicanery and backroom dealing.

But, in keeping with the Professor's original question, I wonder how many of us, should we be faced with looking down at our open political grave, would have the guts to do the right thing.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
I could link to a dozen or more Republicans wearing Badger gear when they are traveling the state, during major UW sporting events. But, they all hate Madison and they all hate the UW. Not exactly a secret."

Lets make it easy. Name one.

EMD said...

Well, there was that time when I was the only one in my 11th grade economics class to raise my hand when the teacher asked "How many of you think there should be no minimum wage?"

(after asking if it should be raised or kept the same.)

David Wharton said...

Some people are contrarians by nature and like to take views opposing those of their peers. I think this is in some way easy for them, because they enjoy conflict, and for them that outweighs the negative social consequences.

I'm thinking of people like David Horowitz, Nat Henthoff, or Andrew Breitbart.

Marc Puckett said...

Have been thinking about this off and on since yesterday, and can put my finger now on what had unsettled me about the question, and, sorry, haven't had time to read all the comments, so perhaps this is just repetition by this time. For those of us for whom 'politics' has limited significance, politics in the sense 'government policy, partisan politics', well, I'm fairly sure I've never lost a night's sleep over any political decision that I've made or that anyone has made. The actually hard decisions are religious in nature and ethical, and from that perspective one circles back to the political, in the larger, Aristotelian sense that puts the common good at the forefront. So one loses friends or the friendliness of acquaintances because one won't be silent when someone else is going on about the glories of abortion rights, or about how the Catholic religion victimises homosexual people, or about one's supposed right to an affluent, consumerist lifestyle because 'this is America!'. From my perspective, disputing those ideas, when one prudently can, isn't a 'hard political choice', but it may fit what AA is asking about. Friday last week.

Kirk Parker said...

buwaya,

Oh please stop with the 'parasitic' nonsense. I abominate the 'progressive' project as much as, or more than, any other red-blooded American, but seriously: brokers, financiers, etc actually perform useful service! The alternative is we all go back to being subsistence farmers or hunter-gatherers. Is that what you want? (I ask this as someone who actually did spend half a decade of his life living among actual subsistence farmers in the fourth world. It's neither easy, nor pretty... nor has a high life expectancy, for that matter.)




Rev,

"Nice city, though, apart from its politics. "

Indeed it is, but they're working overtime to change that (e.g. $15 minimum wage, one anti-car move after another, etc...)