Draconian Conservatism


For this discussion, I'm going to focus on what it is that drives conservatives to such extreme and draconian ideas of governing.

A piece on the psychologytoday.com website list these "beliefs" as defining the mindset of conservatives:

  • American exceptionalism and the need to protect it by strict immigration policies;
  • Anti-abortion under all circumstances ("Life begins at conception");
  • Pro-capital punishment;
  • Pro-gun rights;
  • "Law and order" attitudes favoring harsh penalties for criminal behavior; Supporters of the "war on drugs;"
  • Anti-affirmative action;
  • Anti-reductions in nuclear weapons;
  • Anti-entitlements; anti-gay;
  • Anti-science (e.g., denial of evolution and climate change);
  • Belief in the promulgation of "Christian values" in schools, courts, and public ceremonies;
  • Reverence for people in uniform; given to patriotic display;
  • A fondness for military solutions to international problems;
  • Biblical certainty in matters of morality;
  • A conviction that those who disagree politically should be the objects of coercion; A view of oneself as beset by evil forces conspiring to take what one has;
  • The equation of compromise with "weakness."

I have absolutely no qualifications that would license me to argue with the good Dr. Livingston, but then I've never let the lack of qualifications or education hold me back from speaking my piece.😁

I might argue that the items above are "triggers" and that they are indeed topics that can inflame the brains of conservatives, but why is that? What is it about the conservative brain that takes in the exact same information that my liberal brain takes in and twists it into these nightmarish imaginings of our world coming to an end?

According to sciencebreaker.org, there is something physiological going on here. Conservatives and liberals can take in the same information and reach very different conclusions about what they've just seen or heard. Their studies suggest that there is a "neural basis for partisan biases in interpreting political messages, and highlights the effects these biases have on attitude polarization."

While I don't understand a damn thing about neural pathways and how they function, I do know that what you are taught, intentionally or coincidentally at a young age changes the physical construct of the brain and causes it to process information differently than the brain of young people who weren't exposed to the same beliefs and programming. We gave this a name a very long time ago; we called it brainwashing, a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.

The term brainwashing emerged in the 1950s as Webster explains: "In the early 20th century brains would sometimes be washed, generally as part of a cure for an illness. It does not appear to have been common enough that brain-washing became a fixed part of our language. Until 1950, when we imported a new sense of the word from Chinese (taken from xǐ nǎo, which in the Beijing dialect means "brain" and "wash"), and suddenly the word was all over the newspapers."

A little more explanation and we'll move on; "This is what Chinese papers graphically term "washing one's brains," or "laying one's heart on the table." There was a case of a school teacher in a small town between Shanghai and Nanking who was summoned to a "brain-wash" before a large audience, partly consisting of his pupils. When asked to speak he confessed his sins for some ten minutes, and then stopped for lack of more ideas. He was begged not to be so brief. And was then forced to go over his mea culpa for some two hours."
- The Times of India (Mumbai, Ind.), 23 Jan. 1950

There is intentional brainwashing, such as the radical Muslim madrassas do with children to radicalize them, as well as some of the fundamentalist protestant religions, do in the United States, both at home and in the church to indoctrinate children in their beliefs. And, there is the coincidental type of brainwashing. This can take place in the home when adults are carrying on about people of color, or the LGBTQ+ community, or Muslims, or any number of topics that rub people the wrong way.

Sitting at the table or on the couch while small children, say age 2 to 8 or 9 are playing on the floor, seemingly uninterested in the adult conversation, adults spew graphic and bigoted comments about a news story or the events of the day. Their diatribe may be laced with racial and discriminatory references that are being absorbed by the children's brains, almost subconsciously. The kids are playing; they probably don't understand many of the words that are spoken, but those words go into their memory banks just the same, along with the adjectives and invectives that accompany them.