I Used to Be a Conservative


sexy elephant 

One of the things that makes political conversation so difficult nowadays is the fact that many people see political orientation simply as a matter of cultural happenstance.  Liberals, people think, are Liberals because they were raised by liberal parents, and Conservatives are Conservatives because they were raised by conservative parents, and all merely go through life loyally representing how they were raised and where they’re from, as if opinions were ethnicities.  As a result, there are many who not only view all influence on opinion as inherently pernicious, but all attempts to influence opinion as both futile and presumptuously self-centered.  As someone who runs a website largely devoted to trying to get people to change their minds about various things, I am aware that many people take offense at the project solely for this reason, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with any or all of the positions here.  This guy believes what he believes because he just always has, many people think, and other people believe what they believe because they just always have, so why should other people change their minds and agree with him?

Since this objection is, however flawed, a common one, I feel honor-bound at this point to bring readers through a first-person history of the development of my political outlook, and thereby demonstrate that what I now believe is, in fact, not what I have always believed, and therefore no mere accident of birth or circumstance, but rather the result of many years of societal and self-examination.  Though there will still be those who disagree with me, I hope at least that this essay will make it clear that I do not demand of others anything that I have not already demanded of myself.

I wish to make it clear at the outset that not every position described here is something that I am at all proud of having once believed.  Some of them will be silly, and others shocking.  Some of them may make readers who are familiar with my present-day positions wonder aloud how I could have been so stupid, which is of course the same reaction my present-day self has to them.  And even though I am embarrassed about virtually everything I’m going to talk about here, that’s why it’s so important that I talk about it — to show not only that people can change, but that, with a lot of work and a little luck, they can even change into me.

So let’s get started.  Now, rather than jump around from this issue to that issue, I think the most honest and illuminating method is to start with the big picture and then break it down into its component parts, since this is pretty much how people pick their political orientations in real life (though they might believe otherwise).  Specifically, I'll start by admitting that I used to be a Republican.  Since my current pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-gun-control, atheist self is one of the most un-Republican guys around, this probably surprises you.  It may even make you like me a little less.  Or a lot less.

In case it cuts any ice with you, I should probably mention that I was nine years old at the time.


Like many Americans roughly my age, the first place I ever heard the words “Republican” and “Democrat,” or got any indication of what they supposedly meant, was on the classic ’80s sitcom Family Ties, starring Michael J. Fox in his breakthrough role as Alex P. Keaton, the young Republican eldest son in a family of far-less-funny hippies.  As you doubtless remember if you’re old enough, the show didn’t really ever get that specifically into actual political issues.  What it did get into was the fact that Alex was smarter than everyone, and really into being smarter than everyone, and made jokes at the expense of the people than whom he was smarter.  Awesome, hilarious jokes, against which there could be no viable defense.  And this, in a nutshell, was me.  Seriously, that episode where Alex somehow ended up getting an “F” on something and was so traumatized that, whenever he attempted to recount the tale, he couldn’t even bring himself to pronounce the letter “F”?  So totally me.

And since Alex referred to himself as a “Republican,” whatever that was, I figured I was one of those too.

Over time, it became apparent that it had something to do with liking money.  Alex liked money, talked about it constantly, and planned to have a lot of it when he grew up.  And this made perfect sense.  After all, Alex (like me) got the best grades in school, and the person who gets the best grades in school grows up to get the best job, and as a result has the most money, right?  And if anyone doesn’t grow up to have a lot of money, it’s because they did dumb things instead of their homework, such as talking on the phone and hanging out at the mall, like Alex’s dumb sister Mallory, right?  Being the smartest equaled having money, and being dumb equaled not having money and subsequently making up a lot of crap about how some things are more important than money because you are jealous of the people who have money because you are not as smart as them, which serves you right for talking on the phone and hanging out at the mall.  It all made such perfect, perfect sense.  It also jibed seamlessly with the other components of my nine-year-old worldview, since my other hero at the time, Scrooge McDuck, also liked money.

Hell, who doesn’t like money?  Nobody, that’s who.

There was one episode where Alex defended cops when other people were making fun of cops, which was fine with me, because both my parents were cops.  I started reading about U.S. Presidents, and found out that the Republican ones included Lincoln, who was by definition only like the best President ever, and who was so smart that he taught himself to read with a shovel or something and would later go on to be used as an example of smartness in the Scarecrow’s “If I Only Had a Brain” song, and Teddy Roosevelt, who invented nature conservation and who there was a big statue of in front of my favorite place in the whole world, the Museum of Natural History, the very place where people go to get smart!

Like many smart people, the fact that I was smart was one of the first things I ever knew about myself.  And like most little kids, I based my evaluations of smartness primarily on three things:  the fact that I beat other kids on tests, the fact that I had heard of things that other kids hadn’t heard of, and the fact that everyone hated me.  Of course, it made no sense to me that everyone hated me.  After all, it’s not like I was stingy with my smartness — on the contrary, I wished to extend its awesome power in ways that would benefit others.  Like at my elementary-school birthday parties, when I would bring out my little portable tape player and play songs from the fifties and sixties that were way better than the music the other kids liked, and get pissed when people talked instead of paying attention to the music and my accompanying lectures.  Needless to say, people stopped coming to my birthday parties after a while.  But I didn’t let that get to me.  After all, if they didn’t want to be smart, it was their loss.  And besides, at least I had come a long way from first grade, when I used to hang out with the lunch aides at recess instead of the other kids, occasionally taking a quick zip around the playground in order to report back to them on stuff people were doing wrong.

And why shouldn’t I have behaved this way?  Ever since I had begun establishing to the rest of the world that I was smart — usually in the form of voluminous minutiae about dinosaurs — other kids had hated me, and adults had liked me.  The adults were the ones who protected me from the other kids, so naturally my loyalties lay with them.  I took great pride in the fact that I was more like an adult than any of the other kids were.

I realize this is lame, but I’m sure lots of good, important people were atypically annoying as kids.  If you think that overidentifying with authority figures as a kid renders me suspect as a rebel leader now, I will refer you to the early chapters of Gandhi’s autobiography where he talks about how in his youth he was the one who tried the hardest to be like the English.  That’s called a Gandhi Trump Card, son, and it just fucked you.  It’s like when you’re playing kickball and someone kicks the kickball through the basketball hoop.  Now you owe me a hundred points and a pizza party.

"Where’s my pizza party, bitch?"

So anyway, I carried on under the impression that I was a Republican.  And there wasn’t really anyone around to disabuse me of this notion.  My parents had never even voted and were decidedly apolitical aside from, you know, thinking that people shouldn’t commit crimes, which seemed like a no-brainer.  All the people in my extended family who were political were Republicans themselves, and quite pleased with my choice.  And pretty much all the families of all the other kids in school were Republicans as well.

Now, since I’m obviously not a redneck, the admission that I grew up in a heavily conservative environment may lead you to conclude that I was rich — and you’d be sort of right.  I lived in a rich area, and I went to a rich high school (it was technically a public school, but a very good one), and although my family wasn’t rich, a great number of the people around us were (how we ended up living there is a long and irrelevant story).  This was fine because, as I’ve explained, I fully expected to be rich when I grew up, since I was, after all, the smartest.

Eventually, however, I realized that this didn’t always correlate.  I started noticing that a lot of the kids who had the biggest houses and the coolest shit were also the biggest dumbasses.  At first I just figured that their parents must be smart — but then, when I got to the age where it’s possible to tell which adults are or aren’t smart, I realized that their parents were, in fact, also complete dumbasses.  My parents, on the other hand, were smart, and we didn’t even have a pool — and where I grew up, not having a pool was like being on food stamps (not that I had any idea what food stamps were).  I realize this sounds obnoxious, but remember I was in elementary school at the time, and all an elementary-school student knows is what you get made fun of for and what you don’t get made fun of for, and I got made fun of for not having a pool.  It didn’t make any sense.  My father was the smartest guy in the whole world, so why didn’t we have a pool?

It was beginning to appear as if how much money you have was not, in fact, a direct result of how smart you are.  But this was still fine with me because, when I really thought about it, it wasn’t the money I cared about.  The simple fact of being smarter than everyone was reward enough.

Okay, that and the attention.  Money or no money, I do need the attention.

Anyway, after the epiphany that smartness and money are not always directly correlated (and are actually frequently inversely correlated), other cracks began to appear in the idea that I was a Republican.  For starters, why were my relatives always making fun of people who cared about the environment?  Didn’t they know that there was a big statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside the Museum?  And why did they always get mad and shush me whenever I deduced that some religious thing didn’t make any sense?  Weren’t they supposed to praise me for being smart enough to figure that out?  After all, they were the grown-ups, and praising smart children is what grown-ups are for.

But the last straw fell during one big Holiday dinner, when I heard my older cousin, who was just about finishing up with high school, boast smugly to the cheers and approval of the assembled that he had made it entirely through high-school English without having read a single one of the books.  Now, this guy’s family was rich.  And he was definitely going to have a lot of money when he grew up.  He was a lot like Alex Keaton, actually, and growing up I kind of looked up to him.  And here he was, bragging about reading the Cliff’s Notes instead of the actual book.

I was dumbstruck.  Alex P. Keaton would never have read the Cliff’s Notes instead of the actual book, and would have been the first to make fun of those who did so.  If this was what Republicans were like in real life, then something was very, very wrong.

Luckily, at around this time I was beginning to put serious thought into what I wanted to be when I grew up — and like many people who need massive doses of attention every day in order not to collapse into a sobbing heap, I had narrowed my options down to Rock Star and Stand-Up Comic.  And the more research I conducted into these two fields, the clearer it became that very nearly all Rock Stars and Stand-Up Comics are Democrats, and so I started trying to figure out why that was.

In the case of Rock Stars, the explanation seemed to be that they like sex and do not like war.  In the case of Stand-Up Comics, the explanation seemed to be that there is a high instance of correlation between things that are funny and things that some people think you are not supposed to say because they are inappropriate.  Maybe in some cases things are a bit more complicated than this, but this seemed to be the game in a nutshell.

And all that was cool with me.  Since I sucked at sports, by early high school I was putting all of my energy into creative writing — and as a result of this, I started hanging out mainly with girls, and was soon firmly convinced that I liked sex a lot better than war.  I already knew I was funny (the only thing that ever got me in trouble in elementary school), and as for things you are not supposed to say, what need had I to fear those?  Only people who there was stuff wrong with had to fear words — my only weakness was the possibility of being beaten up, which is of course non-verbal.  All in all, being in favor of sex and funny stuff and against war and religion (which I had never actually believed in, but didn’t get pissed about until I discovered the extent to which it correlates with being against smart stuff) seemed like the way to go.  I wasn’t a snitch and a suck-up like I had once been, but I wasn’t exactly bad either.  I mean, I was fucking, so I guess I was bad in the eyes of grown-ups who thought that kids shouldn’t be fucking, but since I didn’t think there was anything wrong with sex, that didn’t really count as bad to me.  And since I planned on becoming a Rock Star, this kind of bothered me.  It’s not that I was scared of getting in trouble for things like smoking weed or shoplifting or whatever — they just didn’t interest me.  I didn’t obsess over it or anything, but every now and then I did think it would be nice if I could be bad somehow.

Anyway, by the end of high school I was identifying myself as a Democrat.  I was pro-choice, pro-gun-control, and thought Poetry was cooler than war.  I was still against affirmative action, because it reminded me of the times when other kids would get extra credit on a test for some stupid shit that didn’t really count, resulting in my only beating whoever was in second place by eight points when I should have beaten them by nine points, but overall I agreed with more liberal stuff than conservative stuff.  So, there you go.  End of story, and a happy ending to boot, right?

Wrong.  Because that was when I entered college.

There are many things I remember about those first few magical days at college:  setting up the meager book collection that would soon expand by several orders of magnitude; running around trying to find out who on the floor had a car or a fake ID; and of course, like every other male student in the freshman class, I remember having a pamphlet shoved under my door that helpfully listed all the things that, as I was a boy, were obviously wrong with me, and which I needed instantly to correct if I wanted to avoid being run out of college on a rail, even though I hadn’t done anything to anyone, and didn’t plan to.  Thank you, O wise pamphlet, for encouraging me to examine why [I] consider just shooting hoops and talking, as opposed to playing one-on-one, to be a ‘waste of time.’*  I’ve been thinking about my attitudes on this subject for many years now, and my answer, at long last, is:  What the fuck are you talking about?

    *(These were the pamphlet’s exact words.  And no, I don’t still have it.  I am quoting it from memory, even though this was twelve years ago, because the pamphlet’s words were indelibly seared into my brain by the sheer force of its white-hot uselessness.)

And when classes began, I was in for an even greater series of shocks, ones that would shake everything about who I believed myself to be.  You see, even though I had changed from being a Republican in elementary school to a Democrat by the end of high school, there was one constant in my life throughout that time:  I was good at school.  I knew the most.  I talked the most.  I sat in the front.  Good at school?  Nay — I was school!

So imagine my desolation upon “learning” that the very things that had always made teachers like me the best were now the very things that, apparently, made me evil.  The books and history I knew about were oppressive and canonical, and existed only to be struggled against, rather than praised — they were sad trash.  My “right” answers were only the viewpoints of the status quo.  The fact that I talked the most was no longer a plus, because I was obviously only talking that much in an effort to “silence” the girls.  My very desire to be good at school itself was fascist.  Good students were now bad students.  Not knowing things was now superior to knowing things.  Fair was foul, and foul was fair.

That’s from Macbeth — of which, apparently, the witches are the heroes, because they’re lesbians or something.

That sounds like an excuse for a Sexy Witch pic!

I realize now that there are bigger sociopolitical fish to fry than Campus P.C., but you must understand how devastating this was at the time.  Without school, I had nothing, and I no longer had school.  Displaced by inferiors who had not even existed until moments ago, I no longer sat at the teacher’s right hand.  It wasn’t that I was no longer the smartest, but rather that being the smartest was now a bad thing.  Right there in school, being the smartest was a bad thing.

And that’s when it hit me.  I was finally bad — just like a Rock Star.  I suddenly had limitless supplies of things to say that I wasn’t supposed to say — just like a Stand-Up Comic.  Everybody was pissed off about fucking — and I still liked fucking.  All of the liberal things that had made me switch from conservative to liberal were now somehow no longer liberal.

Just when I thought I was in, they pushed me back out.

But on some level that was fine with me, because even though it felt weird at first not to be the Official Best at School, an opportunity had finally arisen to be the Bad Boy.  And what’s more, it didn’t require me to do anything wrong, or even anything different.  All I had to do was keep sitting in the front and talking a lot, and while this behavior had made me a decidedly unthreatening nerd three months earlier in high school, all of a sudden it was somehow enabling me to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentation of the women.  Especially if I brought up anything to do with science.  Amazing!  The nerdiest thing to talk about in high school had become the scariest and most badass thing to talk about in college!  All I had to do was say the word genes, and it was like someone had flipped on a giant set of speakers blasting “Ride of the Valkyries.”

And it didn’t stop there.  Here is a very incomplete list of some of the things I got called a Conservative for in college:

—believing that anything about the way humans act is genetic

—thinking O.J. did it


—believing that there should be such a thing as the police

—believing that porn should not be made illegal

—believing that lingerie should not be made illegal

—believing that makeup should not be made illegal

—I’ll stop at three sex things that Feminists wanted to make illegal, but you get the idea

—quoting The Simpsons

—believing that there should not be a law barring thin women from appearing in films

—believing that sexist animal species should not be systematically exterminated

—believing that there was anything valuable to be learned from Freud

—believing that specific past events can accurately be said to have “really happened”

—complaining about that course where boys weren't allowed to talk

—writing Poetry in fixed forms

—writing Poetry that was on paper at all instead of doing slam

—writing anything because I’m a man and it should be illegal for men to be writers.

—pointing out the fact that if you really want all these things to be made illegal, then there would logically need to be such a thing as the police

When some girl in a Philosophy class told me that the Law of Non-Contradiction (two mutually exclusive things cannot both be true) was “just my opinion,” that was the last straw.  I started identifying myself as a Conservative again.  I didn’t want to, but that’s what everyone told me I was, so I guessed that’s what I was.  For a while, I tried pointing out that I always voted for Democrats and never for Republicans, and that this is, you know, what the words Liberal and Conservative mean — but it didn’t seem to do any good, so after a while I gave up.  As far as anyone I knew at the time was concerned, I was a “rabid Conservative” …who just happened to be pro-choice, anti-gun, anti-religion, pro-environment, pro-gay, pro-immigration, pro-global economy, pro-U.N., favored strong socialist-derived controls over the capitalist framework, and exclusively voted Democrat.  You’d think that all this would have been enough to keep me from being compared to Hitler on a daily basis, but it wasn’t, because I lifted weights and I occasionally wanted to talk about something besides Mumia Abu-Jamal, Carlos Castaneda, and motherfucking Tibet.

Now, I realize that the positions I’ve been listing here aren’t actually conservative, and so this essay may seem like just another assortment of cheap shots at stuff that a handful of 19-year olds believed a decade ago, instead of a confession on my part of anything particularly damning.  So here goes.  The silly stuff catalogued above is what I got called a Conservative for at the beginning of college… but the stuff I got into a bit later was no laughing matter.  It’s hazy, but I think I can remember hearing myself call gay sex “inferior” once or twice.  I know I went off regularly about the differences between male and female brains, way beyond the elementary stuff that can be supported by sound biology.  For a while I was even into that Bell Curve shit about there being hardwired differences in intelligence between the races.  And the more P.C. got thrown at me, the more stuff like this I would find to throw back.  Once I even sent an e-mail to this one asshole who had raped some girl, expressing sympathy for the way people had been treating him.  In short, I guess I was nuts.

But how was I nuts?  That’s what I have to make myself examine now, to try and get something out of it all.  I can remember that I never actually hated anybody.  In fact, I still liked hanging out with girls and gay guys more than I liked hanging out with “regular” guys, same as in high school.  I felt like one of the good people, but how could I really be one of them when all I ever heard was “straight white male” this and “straight white male” that?  I grew up thinking I was going to solve all the world’s problems with my smartness — but how could I solve all the problems when I was apparently causing them just by existing?  Anything good I ever thought of, no matter how good, would automatically be a step backwards because I had thought of it instead of a woman or a Black guy!  I felt like even if I cured cancer, the headlines would read “Straight White Male Selfishly Cures Cancer, Oppressively Steals Nobel Prize from Black, Women Scientists.”

School was all I had.  What else was I supposed to do, play football?  And the weird thing is, although I can definitely remember myself saying some pretty horrendous stuff, I don’t know how much I really believed it.  I simply wanted to hurt the people who had taken school away from me.  I didn’t even think any of it consistently — when I was in some stupid class getting hit over the head with gay stuff, I said anti-gay stuff, but when I heard some religious idiot say anti-gay stuff, I said pro-gay stuff.  At school I was conservative, but back at relatives’ houses over the summer I was liberal again.  I think from age 18 to age 22 I genuinely spent most of my time simply arguing the opposite of whatever the other people in the room believed.  But I had no idea what I believed.  How could I have?  If I could destroy a Liberal in an argument, and then turn around and destroy a Conservative in an argument on the same subject, then what the hell was true?

And that was my problem.  My intelligence had given me the ability to beat anybody at any argument, and my rage at the rebukes I suffered in college had filled me with the desire to beat everybody at every argument.  Sometimes, I would find myself proving and disproving the same idea in the same day.  Nothing was true, and everything was.  It was legitimately terrifying.  Not only did I not know what I believed, I didn’t even know what I wanted to believe.  I didn’t care about being good anymore because it seemed closed off to me, and being bad had only been fun for about five minutes.  I didn’t want to believe anything.

That’s when it hit me:  I didn’t want to believe anything.  That’s what had been wrong with the Liberals and the Conservatives I had known!  They were all arguing based on what they wanted to believe — that’s why I could beat them all!  They were all trying to be good, and being good simply meant believing the opposite of whatever scared them — and most of them secretly really believed the thing that scared them, which was why they all hated me!

I mean, that and the fact that I was an asshole, but still, what a breakthrough!

At this point, I had only one place to turn:  I started arguing with myself.  I would pick a topic, sit down at a computer, and take turns responding to myself, like I was two different people who had each been assigned opposite positions in a debate.  Some of these self-debates took several hours, but at the end of each one, I knew what I believed.

Pow!  There’s nothing at all problematic about being gay, and the terms gay and straight themselves are meaningless past the point of denoting preference under ideal conditions, since virtually everyone would rather fuck an extremely attractive person of their non-preferred gender than an extremely ugly person of their preferred gender, which could accurately be said to make everyone bi.

Bam!  All racist stuff is complete bullshit, since the historical territorial boundaries of the alleged “races” extend far beyond those of what could possibly constitute a coherent gene pool.

Zap!  Even if there are statistically dissimilar cognitive processes on average between the genders, not only is this information obviously not prescriptive in any way, it is also predictively useless regarding any individual to the same extent that a purely accidental statistical dissimilarity — e.g., a correlation between hair color and skill at board games — would be.

Krunk!  There’s no God, but I’ve pretty much known that since I was five.

And one-by-one, I began to assemble beliefs that I cared about again.  Not because they said something about me that I wanted them to say, but simply because they were true.  And I thought:  “Hey, maybe my thing can be believing stuff because it’s true!”  Like they say on the CarMax commercials, it’s amazing no-one’s thought of this before.

There was still one problem, though.  The stuff I was realizing to be true appeared to be virtually all more-or-less liberal stuff, which brought me back to the problem of how everyone always thought I was a Conservative no matter how liberal my beliefs were.  But then a funny thing happened.

I graduated from college, it became abundantly clear that in real life I am more liberal than 99% of the population, and no-one called me a Conservative anymore.

Weird, right?  Who knew!?  Certainly not me.  And since I know a lot of stuff (I’m smart, in case I haven’t mentioned that before), but still didn’t know that, I’ve often wondered:  How many other people who attended college in the ’90s are walking around under the impression that they’re Conservatives when they’re actually not? 

Probably a lot.  And here's what I have to say to them:

It is stupid when your English Professor tries to tell you that every single fictional character you have ever heard of from Hamlet to Bugs Bunny is gay — but you shouldn’t take that out on actual gay people.  It is stupid when your English Professor tries to tell you that a poem by a schizophrenic homeless guy is better than the Aeneid just because the schizophrenic homeless guy is Black — but you shouldn’t take that out on actual Black people.  It is stupid when your English Professor tries to tell you that contradicting yourself is superior to not contradicting yourself because the vagina is dualistic and the phallus is monistic — but you shouldn’t take that out on actual vaginas.

Wacky English-Class stuff has absolutely nothing to do with liberalism once you get out of college.  In terms of the big picture, it is utterly inconsequential — or would be, if not for the fact that it gives ammo to conservative media and gives significant numbers of people the impression that you have to believe all that stuff to be a Democrat, which is why I spend time ripping on that stuff and trying to get P.C. types to knock it off (plus, it’s funny).  In real life, being a Liberal means thinking abortion should remain legal, thinking that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, thinking that people shouldn’t be allowed to walk around packing heat 24/7, wanting to keep poor people from starving to death, and wanting to keep oil companies from killing all the animals and giving everybody cancer.  That’s about it.  It doesn’t mean you can’t play sports, like old books, or call people retards (unless they are actually retarded, in which case that would be really mean).

In other words, even if I strongly disagree with someone who tells me that I should vote for Obama just because he’s Black, it does not logically follow that I have to not vote for Obama, because I can still want to vote for him for reasons totally unrelated to the fact that he’s Black, even if there are other people who are voting for him for that reason.

I am voting for Obama, by the way, in case there are any readers for whom this was still unclear.

As brief as I can make it, here’s the lesson to be learned from the years I spent as an “anti-P.C. Conservative” (if the term South Park Republican had existed then, I probably would have called myself one of those — indeed, one of the things I’m grateful for is the fact that South Park didn’t turn to the Right until I was already old enough to resist it; if I had still been in college, I might not have been strong enough, and I may never have come back).  Yes, it is illogical when people believe things just because they make them feel better — but it is equally illogical when people believe things just because they make others feel worse.  The fact that someone wants to believe something doesn’t make it true, and the fact that you can “get a reaction” out of people by saying something also doesn’t make it true.  Some nice things happen to be true, and some not-nice things happen to be true, but you can’t tell shit about what’s true by people’s reactions one way or the other.  You can only tell by thinking, really hard, really accurately, all the time.  I know it’s less fun than making hippies cry, but hey, it’s the truth, so what else do you want me to say?

At this point, many readers are probably ready to conclude that the desire to rip on people is the problem, and that people should just not have the desire to rip on people.  The problem with that is, I don’t think we can actually get rid of the human desire to rip on people — what we need to do instead is sublimate it into positive forms, just like we have boys play competitive sports so they can get out the violent energy that would otherwise manifest itself in the habit of randomly smashing things every few minutes.  The desire to rip on people isn’t always a bad thing; it’s all about how you use it.  Sure, Jerry Falwell’s desire to rip on people had bad results, but Jonathan Swift’s desire to rip on people had good results.  Ditto for Aristophanes, Pope, Fielding, Byron, Wilde, Groucho, Carlin, Colbert, etc.  The problem recently has been that, when kids enter college with a strong, healthy desire to rip on people, P.C. professors try to cure them of the desire to rip on people, instead of guiding them towards ripping on people who deserve it.  As a result of this, some people end up thinking that the desire to rip on people is inherently conservative, and the Left loses valuable potential satirists to the Right.  But the desire to rip on people is not inherently conservative.

When The Simpsons’ Sideshow Bob gets pissed about how stuff on TV is stupid, or when Family Guy’s Stewie condescendingly goes off about some common grammatical error, it seems to make sense to people that these things would be coming from the mouths of characters who are politically conservative.  People walk around suspecting that there is all this unspecified stuff that's wrong with them, and regard Conservatives as the people who know what that stuff is, and who, although they need not be listened to twenty-four hours a day, should be listened to when the shit hits the fan, which is why people become more conservative in troubled times — it reminds them of being a little kid and listening to their parents, who were a pain because they kept you from doing fun stuff, but ultimately kept you safe. 

There are two problems with this.  First of all, being bugged by stuff that’s wrong with people is not always inherently conservative — in the case of Stewie or Sideshow Bob’s tirades about grammar, for example, in real life the people who are bugged the most by bad grammar are English Teachers, and English Teachers are on average probably the most liberal profession in American society (plus, every Conservative I have ever known in real life has had shitty grammar, so I don’t know where people got this idea).  Secondly, of course, not all of the stuff that Conservatives say is wrong is actually wrong — it’s just stuff that bugs them, and sometimes it’s actually the person who’s bugged by something who’s the one with the problem. 

Now, seeing dynamics like this presented in comedic contexts makes us more reluctant to realize this, because these dynamics are what make the show funny, and we like the fact that the show is funny.  In real life, we don’t want people to be mean or angry (at least, not to us), but in scripted comedy, someone being mean or someone getting angry is funny.  So, when I see young people nowadays making the same error I once made re Family Ties and deciding that they must be Republicans because their favorite character on Family Guy is Stewie, I know exactly what’s going on in their heads, and as a result, I can offer them the following advice:

“Dumbass!  Of course your favorite character is Stewie!  Stewie is everyone’s favorite character because he is the asshole, and in ensemble comedy the asshole gets the best lines.  This can be presented as if it has something to do with politics, as on Family Guy or South Park or Family Ties, but the same basic dynamic can also be presented in utterly apolitical contexts — e.g., everyone’s favorite character on Aqua Teen Hunger Force is automatically Shake, everyone’s favorite character in American Pie is automatically Stifler, etc.  But obviously if you knew people like Shake or Stifler in real life you would hate them, because they would be acting like Shake and Stifler to you and not just to people on TV or in a movie who aren’t you.  And even if you didn’t hate them, the stuff they do would still be wrong.  And if viewing things through this prism led you to actual support for George W. Bush, then this means that from a starting point of admiration for a character who was smarter than everyone and annoyed all the people who were dumber than him, you ended up with admiration for a fucking idiot who annoyed all the smart people.  Isn’t that the opposite?”

sideshowbob01    cartman01

       stewie01        bush01            .

One of these things is not like the others

Now, see that?  I just got to call someone stupid and point out what is wrong with them, and did it in a way that is anti-conservative as opposed to conservative.  It’s all just a matter of finding the right stuff to make fun of.

The move from Conservative to Liberal makes no sense to the majority of people, Liberal and Conservative alike.  This is because both Liberals and Conservatives tend to regard liberalism as the natural mindset and conservatism as the mindset created by society — of course, in the case of Liberals, this is because they regard the natural mindset as good and the one created by society as bad, whereas Conservatives regard the natural mindset as bad and the one created by society as good.  And this analysis seems to be supported by looking around at society and seeing that young people tend to be liberal and old people tend to be conservative.  But the problem with this analysis is that people aren’t starting the observation early enough.  This essay doesn’t trace a political development of twenty years starting at age twenty-two — it traces a political development of twenty years starting at age nine.  And little kids are really fucking conservative.

What, you don’t think little kids are conservative?  Have you ever been around little kids?  They are obsessed with their own capacities to annoy people, they are paranoiacally unwilling to share, their first reaction to every problem is to solve it with violence, the females are obsessed with babies and the males with guns, they make fun of others for every conceivable difference even if there is nothing wrong with it, and they run screaming from the room whenever people on TV start kissing.  If you can find a better avatar of arch-conservatism than a four-year old, I would like to know what it is.

Yes, old people are also conservative, but this is for basically the same reason — the same impulse that fucks up human endeavor on all sides, and which 1585 is most directly concerned with combating:  Jealousy.  Little kids are pissed that they are not older, and old people are pissed that they are not younger.  Everyone wants to be 18-34, and when they are, they can see clearly enough to be liberal, and when they’re not, they can’t.  Just as in economic terms conservatism-versus-liberalism is a matter of the very rich and the very poor teaming up against the middle class, maturity-wise it is a matter of the little kid in us and the old fart in us teaming up against the prime-of-life in us.  And so the maturation of a human in society is neither a development of Liberal-to-Conservative or Conservative-to-Liberal, but rather Conservative-to-Liberal-back-to-Conservative, with conservatism peaking at the times when one is most jealous and afraid, and liberalism peaking at the times when one is least jealous and afraid.  Those who are conservative the whole way through are simply those who never grew up.  At its root, conservatism is not a political ideology — it is a developmental disorder.

Yes, so is P.C., but as I have been trying to point out on this site all along, P.C. is not actually liberal.  It is sublimated conservatism in people who have conservative impulses but no psychological access to orthodox conservatism because they were raised in liberal environments, like how a mutated strain of a virus can still affect people who were inoculated against the most common strain.

So even when alleged Liberals were calling me conservative, they were actually the conservative ones — at least, at first, but then as a result of being called conservative when I actually wasn’t, I did legitimately become all fucked-up conservative, for a little while anyway.  This — for the millionth time — is why it’s very important that P.C. types stop telling people that things that don’t actually make them conservative, make them conservative.  I know you think it’s going to make them magically stop being boys (or hot girls), but it won’t — what it will do is make them into actual conservatives, when they weren’t before.

One more thing:  In case any P.C. types are planning to use this essay against me in the future, to try and say that I’m not actually liberal…  Don’t.  Because the truth is, as a result of having gone through everything described here, I am actually a better and a stronger Liberal than you.  You have never argued with yourselves, and never wrestled with the conservative ideas you fear beyond calling them mean and making rules against people saying them out loud within the borders of your domains.  Most of you secretly suspect that they are true anyway, and if you ever had to face them on a level field, they would consume you.

But not me.  I know this because I have gone further into them than you can imagine, and come back with their heads.  If they were capable of consuming me, they would have done so already.  Unlike you, I know how to beat a Conservative in an argument, not just make a rule against him talking.  I can do this because I understand what goes on in their minds better than they do themselves.  Their powers and their drives are my powers and my drives, but I have learned to use them for good.

Did you see that movie Blade?  Well, I’m like Blade.


So, there you have it.  I used to be wrong about stuff, then got progressively less wrong about stuff, and am now right about stuff.  But there is one thing I have always been right about, even back then.  Even back in elementary school, when I and everyone around me got our worldviews from cheesy sitcoms, there was one opinion that I am proud I had, even though I was in the minority, and got into many fights to defend it.  One belief that is as true today as it was back then, and will never stop being true, until the end of time:

Michael J. Fox is a million times cooler than Kirk Cameron.

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