When we’re talking about the conservative/progressive spectrum we’re not talking about political positions or policy ideas or tax cuts or whatever. What we’re actually discussing is the percentage of people who feel relatively safe versus the people who don’t.
When this type of psychological study is performed (oh those studies, aren’t they fun to blow out of proportion and consider fact?) the conclusion is consistent. If people are subjected to fearful situations, they act more conservatively (*voice of the gun lover* “gotta protect me and my own!”), when they feel safe, liberal (*voice of the oppressed underclass* “hey, how about we treat everyone like fucking people you fucking assholes”). Intuitively, we all knew this. Conservative media is just a smorgasbord of terrorism and government coming for your guns and blah blah blah. Imparting that amount of fear, injecting it directly into the shriveled genitalia of people staring down the scythe blade of death, inspires conservative behavior. Not just that, but when people are afraid, they run to a trusted source. Ironically, of course, that source is the one that inflames their fear, creating a feedback loop of stupid. This is, to a relative extent, regardless of the conservative/progressive spectrum. Recall W.’s approval rating after 9/11. What a group of fucking morons humans are.
What’s a more important of a feedback loop, and a far more destructive one, is how easily we are manipulated when we are afraid. The theme of conservative policy runs pretty simply: increase fearfulness. Conservatives are warmongers. Conservatives cut taxes on the rich, paying for the tax cuts with cuts to programs that benefit the poor (seriously, fuck Reagan). Conservatives dismantle regulations that protect the environment. Conservatives LOVE guns, and the businesses they love most profit more when they’re used on innocents. Conservatives privatise prisons, creating demand for more prisoners, demand the militarized police happily supply. Conservatives inspire fear of immigrants, fear of the other, fear of a lost white majority, and perhaps the greatest fear of all, irrelevance.
Conservatism is now (Dan and I disagree on whether or not it has always been) a morally desiccated husk of imaginary principles driven by the engine of an exploitative fear machine that purposely creates the conditions necessary to propagate itself endlessly, paid for and built by the corrupt oligarchs who benefit. It’s a magnificent con. When the oligarchs successfully combined racism, tribalism, and religion with economic policy immediately following the Civil War, they created generation upon generation of people willing to vote against their own interests, not just that, their own suffering. Best example? Roughly 25% of Latinos voted for Trump. For realsies.
All of this is, of course, the most ironic. Who complains most about liberals wanting safe spaces? The people who are most afraid. Who bitches most about PC culture? The people afraid of being called names. When these people vomit their implicit racial bias into the explicit and see liberals getting angry at it, they misinterpret it as fear because that is all they know. They think when someone is triggered it’s a sign of weakness, when it’s the signal of a survivor. Conservatives project their insecurity on the rest of us, and so imagine what I can only describe as the upside down world, where they are the strong, the controlling, the powerful, the smart. Trump is not an aberration, nor a mistake, he is the avatar of the modern conservative. Paranoid, illogical, distrustful of empathy, worshipping of wealth, and truly incapable of understanding the pullies and levers of complex systems, instead imagining that “common sense” will solve things.
What I’m saying is I’ve figured it out; all we have to do is convince conservatives that there’s nothing to be afraid of.