pro con


I once belonged to a Facebook Group that was ostensibly about the Founding Fathers and dedicated to the free exchange of ideas about who they were, what they believed and what the intent of the Constitution originally was. The reality was very different. The site was run and moderated by admitted Tea Party members and their posts were always those that supported their (very narrow) interpretations.


For well over a year I debated issues, point for point, always determined to keep the conversation non-personal, making sure never to insult or use verbiage that could be construed as condescending. Needless to say, I never changed a single mind and they only strengthened my own opinions. BUT I learned a lot, so much in fact that I now consider myself an "expert" at being able to play devil's advocate on their behalf when discussing issues with my progressive friends.


In almost every topic, once all of whatever the latest items that made it "news" had been dug past, you came to the very foundation of how each side chooses a position:


  • For the progressive; there are things like belief in vague but meaningful concepts such as freedom, equality and justice.


  • For the conservative; there are also deep moral foundations. These are expressed in words like freedom, liberty and independence.


On the surface it would appear that both sides believe in similar American values. In reality, once the specific definitions are realized (as applied respectively by each side) they are actually in irreconcilable opposition.


For the progressive, the foundation is almost always based in history, science and well, facts. Few "beliefs" enter the picture which cannot be changed if new information is found or discovered. We "believe" in evolution because there is overwhelming scientific evidence. We believe in manmade global climate change, because the evidence is overwhelming. I have absolutely no doubt that if new evidence became available, was checked and re-checked by the best minds the world has to contribute and the conclusion was that global warming was not man made, progressives would turn on a dime and revise their conclusions. Obviously that has not and probably will not happen, but it serves as an illustration of logical thinking, the impetus behind most progressive decision making.


For conservatives the process is reversed. Most conclusions are based directly on faith in the literal word of the bible. Yes, many will then cite studies (usually done by "conservative" non-think tanks) to back their positions, but the bottom line is any fact or evidence that does not conform to the pre-established belief will quickly be declared as liberal propaganda, derided or simply ignored. For them the very essence of the word truth has a meaning so contrary to how a progressive would define it, as to create a chasm so deep. its crossing seems impossible. Truth for the progressive will be the sum of observation, substantiated by other impartial observer's, tested and re-tested, in short a version of the scientific method. For the conservative there is only one, unchanging everlasting and indisputable truth, i.e. "the word of god".



Inherit the wind


So how does someone who is aware of how many species currently inhabit the planet, take seriously anyone who claims that EVERY life form was able to fit on one single wooden boat, when ten modern aircraft carriers would not be able to contain such a menagerie, no less the food to keep them alive for 40 days and 40 nights?


How does someone who is even slightly familiar with the fields of archeology, anthropology and genetics take seriously someone that claims the universe is only 6K years old and has only some strange math based on "begats" in the Old Testament to support that view?



holy constitution

Even the more current issues such as abortion, gay rights and all the other culture war topics have no more substantiation than "the bible tells me so" when the claim is made that something is wrong or evil. No amount of study, statistics or proof will change the mind of someone who has only one source and that, a book written by people who had no idea where the sun 'went' at night.


Even more disheartening is that conservatives now approach the Constitution the same way as they study the bible. They are strict literalists and the only interpretation allowed is one based in "original intent" by the founders. That document has become "sacred" and its writer's equivalent to saints. No matter that much of what the founders wrote actually goes against modern conservative thinking, any document that would make that point is discredited or the person pointing it out told that it is being used 'out of context'.


Conservatives say we are as stuck in dogma as they are and I say a most definite NO. There is no progressive dogma, only an insistence to use reality as a basis for discussion, to provide sources, to back up your statements with evidence, to hold conclusions until the facts are in. The very essence of dogma is that it is unchangeable and forever, which is precisely the proud claim of conservatives that say the bible represent that very truth.


There was a time that the main difference between Republicans and Democrats was an economic one. That made it abstract and debatable because it was removed from daily life and it was possible that a particular issue might have effects which might be enough to persuade the other side or at least provide room for compromise. Today, that has changed. Yes, there are still differences in budget considerations and expenditures, but there is something deeper and in the long run far more worrisome. There is disconnect on how almost half of the electorate views, defines and interprets reality itself.



Jose Rosa

Jose Rosa

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