Talking Past Each Other
Tod’s post on changing tides and social conservatives made me think of a few observations.
1. Conservatives feel like their positions and worldviews are straw-manned and parodied by liberals.
2. Liberals feel like their positions and worldviews are straw-manned and parodied by conservatives.
3. Both sides feel like this would end if conservatives just talked to liberals with an open-heart and/or liberals just talked to conservatives with an open-heart.
4. The Big Sort might be preventing this from happening. Patrick made this observation in Tod’s thread:
What is really odd, to me, is that I hear these things the *loudest* from people who are not urban, still live in overwhelmingly religious communities that are staggeringly monolithic. So they’re bemoaning the downfall of an America they don’t see, don’t experience directly, and largely don’t give a damn about except for their tongue-clucking.
On the flip side, the urban, diverse, increasingly secular part of America that complains about *them* largely doesn’t give a damn about them, either, except for their disdain for the hicks.
Basically the biggest fighters in the culture war, whether on the right or the left live very far from each other. Rod Dreher lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Wiki tells me that St. Francisville is home to 1,712 people and the town is 71 percent white. He is not near the San Francisco or New York that he decries as Sodom and Gommorah.
So what do we want from our opponents? Do we want them to exist in silence and shut-up? Do we expect them to become conservative or liberal? I suspect that conservatives and liberals are attracted to different frames of liberty. Conservatives seem to prefer the negative liberty frame and liberal prefer the positive liberty frame. Most people don’t seem very good at rhetoric. The average political debate seems to follow this path:
Samantha: I believe in X because of 1, 2, 3.
Angela: I believe in Y because of 4, 5, and 6.
Samantha: OMG! How can you believe in Y? I just can’t even.
The language of rhetoric often seems to be different as well. The right-wing or at least parts of it often seems concerned about whether they are arguing from formal tools of rhetoric and logic. The right wing often speaks of first principles and/or the use of various Latin debate terms. Liberals are more concerned about beliefs being based on fairness, justice, and other more vague but warm sounding concepts. I don’t really care about whether my view points or arguments can fit into Latin phrases and follow rhetorical styles from hundreds of years ago. I don’t really understand the extreme importance conservatives and libertarians place in first principles either, it seems too rigid. But I’m a liberal, I would think that, wouldn’t I?
Is partisan rage just another part of the anger of rejection? Conservatives don’t understand why liberals are rejecting the really good stuff and vice-versa as stuff that is unwanted and not needed?