Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unsilencing of a point of view...

Recently, I've been observing that a number of people on the other side of the ideological aisle have run amok online describing how "unsafe" and "scared" they feel.  They think that the country has taken a step back, and things are no longer as good as they once were.

First, I'm old.  I've seen more than a few elections.  I understand the feeling on election night of being on edge during the count, culminating in either a sigh of relief when your candidate wins, or the uncertainty of having a president elect that doesn't champion your values.

However, I remember when I was in college in 2000, and people didn't feel this way.  They grumbled that W won the election, but nobody ran around feeling like their country was in danger in any way.  I was on a fairly liberal campus, and, besides the usual "effing Republicans", there wasn't a huge outcry, especially considering the election was literally decided by fewer votes than the people in my dorm.

So, while it would be easy to say, "Well, Trump/Pence are just THAT evil", if one steps back and looks at the changes to the country at large, we might be able to piece together some other major contributing factors.

First and foremost, there is a push to make people as thin skinned as possible.  The rise of the theory of "intersectionality", third wave feminism, "triggering", "safe spaces", offense at not using arbitrary pronouns, etc. has resulted in people that are incredibly unable to take a critical view of their own beliefs, lest their self-induced identities be jostled.

That entire line of thought ensures that people with opposing viewpoints co-exist without having to challenge one another.  So, the idea that anything would not go their way, or that people might inherently disagree with their point of view, is incredibly difficult to handle.  After all, in their relativistic world, they are right 100% of the time.

And it doesn't end with their viewpoint.  They attempt to enforce it on everyone else I.E. if you don't agree with them, you are painted as racist/sexist/homophobic/hate speech/etc.  You can have your own identity within their walled garden, but don't you dare attempt to climb out of your intellectual gilded cage.

Now here's the thing:  for 30 years, This kind of talk has effectively killed any form of discussion.  The conservative viewpoint has started with an inherent disadvantage.  Before a debate can even begin, they have to justify how they are not deserving of the label of racist/sexist/etc.  This means that the conservatives have been on defense in the public discussion arena for a very long time.

The fact that this tactic has been so effective at silencing conservatives demonstrates the level to which people are not racist:  the idea of even being thought of as racist is enough to dissuade people from engaging in political discourse.  As such, it has been professionally and personally dangerous to hold anything but the liberal point of view for some time now, due to the wide paintbrush of racism/sexism/etc. for anyone that dares step off of the ideological reservation.

What we are seeing in this latest election is the rise of a different breed of conservatism.  These aren't people that are willing to let accusations dissuade them from engaging in political discussions.  They know they aren't racist, sexist, etc.  So, when the left trots out its usual paintbrush, the response is, "No, that's not me.  Please try again."  They aren't racist, and aren't going to roll over and play dead from the usual bag of tricks.

Even attempts to double down using hyper sensitive labels and concepts like "toxic masculinity", "institutional racism", "white privilege", etc. are met with incredulity, scorn, derision, and the loss of an election.

Additionally, conservatives have typically been reserved when it comes to making their political points, relying on typically dull presentations, following laws/rules/analyzing the math/etc.  The other side has not felt the need to maintain themselves along those lines, and enjoyed the ability to be disruptive/rude/shocking/etc. and make their points typically via emotional appeal, which is seductive, in that it provides good feelings over facts.

What is surprising is that fact-based political commentary is providing the best counter this time around.  Granted, it is in a new package that makes it much more easier to present and digest.

People like Ben Shapiro are leading the charge, providing targeted, concise facts to support the conservative point of view, without being mild or gentile about it.  His key phrase is, "facts don't care about your feelings", a phrase which strikes at the very heart of the left's appeal.

As a counter for the more outrageous, they are met by Milo Yiannapolous, who delights in being a provocateur.  He punctuates his talking points using edgy language calculated to troll the other side of the ideological aisle, as has been done in reverse for 30 years.

So they are being met on the high road intellectually, and the low road with the name-calling.  They don't enjoy the smug superiority they once had anymore.

I can understand why the left is now scared:  now they have to defend their viewpoints, and can't shut down their opponents with emotional manipulation.  Their opinions can now be scrutinized for content as opposed to relying on people's sympathies.  Additionally, they are no longer the sole owners of edgy political discourse;  It is now possible to be edgy as well as conservative.

And on that, I can sympathize with the left:  it is an enormous feeling of loss and worry to have been dominating a field for a long time, only to have a serious challenger appear.  I felt the same way when x86 systems had effectively killed Macs, only for the first generation iMacs to appear all over campus.

I look forward to the next few years.  The spell has been broken, and conservatives are now free to come out of hiding and express their viewpoints without reprisal.  There is an open marketplace of ideas that is now ripe with true variety.  Only the close minded would mourn such a rich diversity of thought.