A person I know has been known to say that being conservative is a difficult thing. What he means of course is that one must get past the emotional desire to help everyone (known as the bleeding-heart syndrome) and recognize that such a thing is economically impossible.
Of course the truth is that being a conservative is a very easy thing to be. No one put it better than John Kenneth Galbraith in his famous quote:
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
The difficulty is in fashioning a good excuse as it were. The excuses were helped along wonderfully by the Protestant work ethic (something to do with the devil finding good use for idle hands), rugged individualism, and pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. The work ethic comes from Calvin and his belief that successful people (i.e. hard workers) were the identifiable chosen of God. Rugged individualism arose during the Hoover administration and was some sort of plea to every day people who their success was in their own hands and presumably not in the disaster that was coming at them from a failed American and world economy. The last about the bootstraps arose from a tall tale that finally became another euphemism for working hard to succeed.
This of course was all immeasurably aided when a group of “elitist” Eastern scholars decided to expropriate Darwin’s evolutionary “survival of the fittest” to explain why some people succeeded and why others did not. Mix them all together and you have the perfect storm of excuses for why I’m wealthy, and you not only are not, but don’t deserve to be.
I would argue that the average business entrepreneur is anything but a true conservative. We like to think of conservatives as being people who don’t like change, who harken to the “good old days”, albeit as seen through rose-colored glasses. This cannot be true of the business person of course, since nobody who thinks like this is likely to risk their all on some belief that they have invented the new wheel of the day. Business persons simple vote for and support those that promote the kinds of policies that most protect their interests.
Of course all these terms don’t explain anything at all. One may ascribe to the belief that some of the great titans were perhaps brilliant in some way, but more likely they are men who had an inordinate desire to (a) make fabulous sums of money, (b) acquire fabulous amounts of power, or (c) acquire fabulous amounts of accolades for being “successes”. Actually all three feed each other. And with that personality in tow, they happened upon the right idea at exactly the right point in history. The rest is as they say, history. Imagine the poor hunter-gatherer who happened upon a pool of black sticky goo. He might have dreamed of using this substance in some way that would power his lifestyle, but without either the steel, refinery or car awaiting, it’s unlikely he would become Chief Rocker-negie.
These “conservatives” were a different sort of course than the ones we have today. They cared little about social issues, the rabble could act and interact within their tenements in whatever manner they chose. And they were and are not the same as those “new conservatives” known as the neo-cons, who have applied survival of the fittest to the very nation itself, and given our superior American exceptionalism, the right to fashion the rest of the world to our liking, even if it means by force.
No, the “New” new conservatives suffer from a much different issue than the mundane guilt facing the average conservative of old, assuaged as was by the phrases above, expropriated to their cause of “me first, you probably never.”
I am of an age, when we were taught that each generation in America did better than the one before it. Each family wished better for their children than themselves, and they expected that. We are the first for which, for many at least, that was not so. In fact for most, staying even has been the best we could hope for.
This leads to the inevitable question of why. And that question scares the bejesus out of the rich. For if the rabble in mass discerns that it has lost at the hands of those who have profited by our misfortune, the wealthy cannot withstand the onslaught. They know it and they have worked tirelessly to avoid that question being turned to them.
The corporate interests, flush with their bulbous bank accounts, bought up the media, and in some cases created their own. The chants began. If you are feeling left behind by the American “dream” then look left.
It is the fault of the blacks who just maybe (hints are everywhere) aren’t as capable in the first place, and are genetically lazy. They are the “takers” the “lazies” the 47%’ers. The subsist on “freebies” and from the Santa Claus syndrome, making a “good” life while aspiring to be nothing more than they are.
It is the fault of the browns, the “illegals” who take our jobs from us, and are prone to being lazy and takers as well. It is all the more horrific because they don’t have any “rights” having entered this country by nefarious and illegal means.
Recognizing that there is a strain of Bible Belt Christianity, you can turn your ire upon the “non-Christian” especially those who look different, are brown, and follow Islam. They are intent upon bringing their hate religion to our shores, taking control of our government and forcing us into their mosques. They are out to destroy American and everything we hold dear.
It is the fault of uppity women and gays who demand equal rights and are surely a part of that “One World Government” thing, that sounds un-American and sinister to boot. It all means that white men are losing their grip on power and money in this world.
Throw in a good dose of government is bad because it just is, continue the mantras of work ethics, and you have a supper to be served to the rank and file American who spends little or no time reading books or articles that deal with real issues in the world.
Soon you have a strange mix of folks who don’t want to pay taxes for all those “others” and who have managed to extricate from their King James’ Bible, plenty of justification for blaming it all on everybody not white, not male, and not Christian.
YOU COULD MAKE IT IF YOU WORK HARD AND IF IT WERE NOT FOR THEM.
The angry mobs will elect people who spout this, and assure them that they are right in their new-found angers and hatreds. A new cadre of grifters are paid to stir the pot daily, assuaging your guilt that tugs at your heart from time to time, making you feel just the slightest bit petty and selfish.
State legislatures across the land become engaged in bizarre bills to destroying women’s reproductive rights, limit the rights of immigrants, legal or not, ban gays from equality, pass looser gun laws (just in case we need them against the government), and otherwise suggesting that life outside the US of A might be better for all, and other secessionist blather.
These bands of ignorance can be found all over America, calling themselves “patriots” and other misbegotten appellations. They are no party, but a band of misfits of no particular ideology other than “stop taking my money” and “it’s not my fault I don’t have the life I dreamed of.” Those two ideas drive all their so-called “opinions. They know nothing, and care to know nothing.
But to call them the Know Nothings is to do a disservice to another time and place and to misrepresent the meaning of the term when used. They deserve their own name, these “new, new” conservatives.
I coin the phrase The DICKS© to define them. They are the Determinedly Ignorant Conservative Koalition, or DICKS.