Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Anger Mismanagement

In the last week I've had two good conversations with two good friends about the 2016 Presidential election. They are both center-left, both upper-middle-class, and both wondering why the Republican electorate seems to be so ANGRY this year. The theory I worked through with both of them is that the normative conservative American is angry because they're sick and tired of being told to sit down and shut up because they are conservative. I've set up four strawman conversation snippets below to help me make my point:

Conservative: "I think that we should have better controls and management on who comes into our country, and that people who aren't here legally shouldn't have the right to drive, vote, or get government benefits."
Response: "RACIST!"
Conservative: ", no, it's our country. Shouldn't we have a good idea of who comes in and why they're coming and...
Response: "RACIST!"
Conservative: "..."

Or try this one:

Conservative: "I think that human life begins when sperm meets egg, and that abortion (while sometimes medically necessary) shouldn't be paid for by the government since it ends a human life."
Conservative: ", no, I understand that only women can get pregnant but human life is something that should be protected and..."
Conservative (under his breath): "...fine whatever..."

What about this one:

Conservative: "Marriage has been the union of one man and one woman for the whole of human history, and I think that it should stay that way because a married mother and father is the best way to produce good children."
Conservative: ", no, I don't really care what two (or more) consenting adults do, but the societal ideal of marriage between one man and one woman is worth protecting and defending because..."
Conservative (a little louder): "...OK, whatever..."

And how about this:

Conservative: "There are about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and even if only 1% of them believe in Jihad against non-Muslims that means over a million potential enemies are out there. Maybe we should tightly screen people coming to America from Muslim-majority countries."
Response: "ISLAMOPHOBE!"
Conservative: ", no, not all people who practice Islam are terrorists, but that's the pool they're coming from so maybe we should..."
Response: "ISLAMOPHOBE!"
Conservative: "...OK, that's how you want to play it?"

See a pattern here? If you're a normal conservative American who holds those views the response over the past two decades has been, "Shut up, racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe!" After a while people get tired of being called something that they're not and they're going to fight back.

In 2016 some have latched on to Donald Trump as their champion. I disagree with this decision, but I understand it. The consequences are playing out in real time and I hope that the Republican Primary voters come over to Ted Cruz as quickly as possible, because if they don't we're in for 8 years of President Hillary Clinton, and I'm not looking forward to that at all.