Yes, we understand. We conservatives understand what you are saying, what you propose, and why you propose it. You don’t understand why we object.
You want laws governing “hate speech” because you want to protect the victims of such speech. You want laws governing “misinformation” to tamp down conspiracy theories. You claim we object because of a desire to protect (or even embrace) hateful language and conspiracy theories. Untrue. We object out of a desire to protect all speech. You refuse to acknowledge that such laws might be used against you. You refuse to tell us how any speech would be “classified” as hateful or as misinformation. You conveniently ignore misinformation when it comes from progressive politicians, pundits, and the media.
You want more firearms regulation. You want to ban semi-automatic rifles. Some of you want to ban all firearms. You propose these things because you want to enhance public safety and you are horrified by news reports of innocent people being shot (as we all are). You claim conservatives oppose these measures because we don’t care. Untrue. We believe the right to self-defense to be as important, if not more important, than any other human right. You refuse to acknowledge that such laws would only impact law-abiding citizens (they are not the problem). You refuse to acknowledge that an “assault rifle” ban was already tried, was in place for a decade, and according to the federal government had no impact on crime or violence. You refuse to tell us how you propose to deal with the millions of firearms already in circulation. You refuse to acknowledge the fact that the technology to build a semi-automatic rifle is over 100 years old – and is very much in the public domain. You refuse to address the single most important aspect of this violence – the role of the shooter (unless of course, the shooter happens to be a police officer – the police officer you want to “defund”). There are solutions to crime and violence that do not involve disarming law-abiding citizens, you don’t want to listen to them.
You support BLM and the teaching of Critical Race Theory because you want to right a social and historical wrong. You want to protect and enhance the rights and opportunities of oppressed people. Any objection is dismissed with a single word; “racist”. Untrue. Conservatives oppose these because we object to racism. Progressives refuse to acknowledge the fact that CRT is racist. Any ideology that categorizes and groups individuals based solely on race is racist. You refuse to explain how the idea that fighting racism with more racism is intended to work, we see that as making about as much sense as fighting hunger by restricting food supplies.
You want everyone covered by government health insurance because you want to protect the health and well-being of those that can not afford it. You say conservatives oppose this because we don’t care about the poor or that we are in the pocket of monied interests such as pharmaceutical companies. Untrue. We care, we care about the well-being of all Americans. We object to your approach. You don’t talk about reducing health care costs, you talk about insurance coverage. Providing universal insurance coverage does not address costs of care, it provides instead an unlimited supply of money to the demand side of the equation and provides no incentive to the supply side to cut costs. It will, and to the degree implemented already has driven costs up. What do you suppose would be the impact on the price of a new car or a house if the seller knew that the buyer had an unlimited supply of money backed by the federal government for this purchase? It is axiomatic, the price will go up.
The list of these items and issues is endless. Green New Deal, free college, and other forms of income redistribution. You dismiss all opposing viewpoints. The news media doesn’t bother to ask any of the questions or bring up any counterpoints that I’ve listed here. When the media covers a conservative speaking to one of these topics, they simply interview a progressive politician or pundit that does nothing more than reiterate the single word or single line dismissal. When we bring up cost, the response is typically something like “we can’t afford not to”. We never hear you talk about unintended consequences. I do not ever recall a progressive ever using the term “self-defense” in the context of the Second Amendment.
We understand your motivation, you don’t understand ours. We see an appeal to emotion, not reason. You on the other hand refuse to accept facts, data, or any motivation on our part other than your preconceived notions.
There is some evidence beyond my humble opinion to support the idea that conservatives understand progressives more than progressives understand conservatives. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Robert Mather summarizes some studies from 2020. As Dr. Mather points out, the studies at the time had not been thoroughly vetted. And in the interest of accuracy, I will point out that what was covered was not the detail of the points I’ve made here. The studies related to Democrats and Republicans evaluating the electability of candidates based on demographic groups. Please read the full article, but to oversimplify, the Republican’s evaluation of Democrats was more accurate than the Democrat’s evaluation of Republicans, in some cases by significant margins.
Why is this?
Short answer, I don’t know. It may be a result of echo chambers, the most significant of which is the mainstream media. It may be that conservatives are better at thinking things through (we pay more attention to questions of cost and unintended consequences). It may be that progressives are unduly swayed by emotional arguments. It may be that the media fails miserably at asking the right questions. It may be that progressives are less inclined to engage in debate. It may be that arguments from emotion are simply easier to embrace. It may be any of these things, it probably is all of them.
A generous conservative might attribute all this to well-intentioned people on the left that are simply uninformed or uneducated. Those that support socialism are simply unaware (too young or too ignorant) of the history of socialism and the horrific results obtained in every case, everywhere it was tried, throughout history. The less generous among us might attribute this to a desire to create the same socialist hell here in the United States as has been played out in the rest of the world for the last century. The less generous conservative might decide that progressives need victims to exist – real or imagined – because if they don’t, progressives don’t have much to talk about.
In cities like Seattle, homelessness is a hot topic. There is much talk (by progressives – the Seattle City Council is composed of everything from McGovern Democrats to avowed Marxists) of affordable housing. Absent from this conversation is any mention of public housing as it was in the last century. Have any of these folks ever heard the term “the projects”? In cities like Chicago, these public housing projects were a complete disaster by any measure. Most if not all have since been blown to the ground with dynamite – a fitting end to a disastrous idea that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people still deal with to this day. I hear nothing from these progressives about this topic. This, like firearms bans, has been tried, it didn’t work, worse – it caused enormous harm to the very people it was designed to help. Any unintended consequences here? Any lessons from history here? The folks that put forth “the projects” were well-intentioned, and absolutely, devastatingly, wrong. But when conservatives bring this up, it’s because we don’t care about the plight of the homeless. If what happened with “the projects” is any indication of progressives “caring”, I’ll pass.
Societal norms such as politeness, civility, tolerance, and respect are worthless and completely meaningless unless they apply to everyone. Our Constitutional protections such as free speech, self-defense, due process, and privacy are worthless and completely meaningless unless they apply to everyone. Conservatives understand this. Conservatives understand why progressives say what they say and promote the ideas they promote. Progressives don’t.
Dr. Robert Mather, March 12, 2020, “Democrats May Overestimate Republican Prejudice in Elections”, Psychology Today.