The title says a lot about where we were going during the few last decades of rule by conservatives without conscience (CWC). It also suggests there is something we can do about it.
What is it about the CWCs that brought us to this point where fixing a wrong is not an option?
These CWCs are more about “me” than “we the people.” If you’re not like them, “you’re on your own.” They love labels and label all those not like them as an enemy. They have so many enemies, they need unrestricted wiretapping to keep an eye on them.
They made the rich the mega rich. They see not just progressive taxes but ANY taxes as evil instead of the foundation for the common good of the nation. They are so into ‘me’ and individual responsibility, they see taxes as theft. It’s mine. How dare your take it for protecting and empowering everyone?
They approved torture but when torture came to light they hid behind those they had put in the “bad barrel” called Abu Ghraib. They’ve lied so many times, and continue to do so, we’ve given up counting.
They are all about staying the course regardless of any evidence to the contrary.
They contribute to or are members of some of the most powerful lobbying groups, such as the NRA, yet they insist that lobbyists have no effect on our ‘individual’ congressmen. They also claim that government makes businesses do stupid things – yeah, like creating credit default swaps.
They need wars and a broken public education system to control the masses. They don’t listen, they tell you what you need to understand and will repeat it as often as necessary. The Noble Lie is a favorite tool. Dick Cheney has finally come out of his undisclosed location to defend the indefensible – over and over.
They have had the empathy beaten out of them by strict fathers and believe unquestioningly in the purity of profit. They are so intent on individual responsibility and discipline, so you’re on your own, and so devoid of empathy, they can’t comprehend that they are affected by many outside forces. For them, systemic causation doesn’t exist.
Some want their religion for all – regardless of freedom of choice. They hold science in low esteem, especially when it conflicts with their beliefs.
They believe in corporate welfare and that they too will become rich, but ‘you deserve what you get’ since you’re not like them. They are not their brother’s keeper. They deplore checks and balances on getting rich, abusing power, rewarding their friends, or limiting ‘their’ individual freedoms like owning guns to protect themselves from those not like them.
They create issues that aren’t: CO2 is not a pollutant. Who said it was? It is, and always has been, a greenhouse gas. Obama’s supreme court nominee is too insert-your-favorite-descriptor. But there is no nominee. Senator Obama “is a Moslem.” How many times does he have to disprove that?
They consider empathy a four-letter-word. But that shouldn’t be a surprise since those without a conscience lack the ability to empathize. Their strict father upbringing ‘beat’ it out of them.
They have Fox Noise, Talk Radio, Christian based law schools, and Rupert Murdoch’s mega media machine to promote their cognitive policy. They know and repeat the daily ‘talking points.’ They love to spread fear with television and emails because they know fearful people will do stupid things – like believe their lies. (These tools of fear, and other high tech tools, were not around in November 1963. What might these tools contribute to now or in the future? See table below.)
Three Fearful Murderers Without a Conscience
|Jiverly Voong||An American citizen, shot 13 people on April 5, 2009, and fantasized about the assassination of the president. His two guns were licensed by NY state.||Joshua Cartwright||After scaring his wife into taking refuge at a hospital, he killed two sheriff’s deputies at a gun range on April 27, 2009. His wife said he had been severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President.|
|Richard Poplawski||On April 4, 2009, he opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them. A friend, Edward Perkovic, said the gunman feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.”|
And, they are not going away. They were the Loyalists during the American Revolution. They fought to keep slaves during our civil war. Later they wore white robs as they lynched those not like them. Now, a few wear suits in our Congress and governor’s mansions, or claim to be a rich plumber.
John Dean described them this way in Conservatives Without Conscience:
Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds. They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. … And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going away.
They are a seething threat upon which we must keep a very alert eye. They still have a well established, but floundering, conservative worldview music box that will continue playing their tune. Like a pied piper, they intend to recapture the minds of those who have strayed and add others who have yet to hear their siren.
What to do?
Here’s how George Lakoff puts it in The Political Mind:
Progressives have a lot of tilling to do – and maybe some heavy-duty roto-tilling in conservative soil [soil that has taken over 35 years to prepare.]. It will take time and concerted effort.
Lakoff also provides these suggestions for getting started:
What ever the topic is, bring in the progressive moral vision and what the role of government is. American is about empathy and responsibility: people caring both for themselves and for one another, and acting responsibly on that sense of care Government has two roles: protection and empowerment for all its citizens. Nobody makes it on his own …. And then frame whatever the issue is in these terms. Taxes pay for continued protection and empowerment …
If progressives can stick to these basics, activate empathy in our fellow citizens, and frame issues so that they notice all the protection and empowerment that government affords in their every day lives, then we have a fighting chance that the minds and brains of our countrymen will align once more with the fundamental values and goals of American democracy. We need to say over and over that this is what true patriotism is.
Here are some frames Lakoff suggests to emphasize how the progressive worldview is constructive to our democracy:
America says we are all in the same boat. America makes the least of us secure. America says you are safe from government oppression. America says your personal life is your own. American stands for liberty.
Until progressives quickly learn that conservatives have perfected their cognitive policy over the previous 40 years, we, as empathetic and responsible citizens, can’t relax and wait for the next election.
Progressives need to develop and promote a progressive cognitive policy to erase the neural connections of the conservative, strict father, conscienceless worldview and reinforce the weakened connections for responsible and empathetic progressive concepts like common wealth for the common good.
Progressives need to emphasize that we are each not just responsible for ourselves but for others – there is no place for “me” in “we the people.” We need to reframe the discussion from government that is big, expensive and wasteful into a discussion of how our government should be protecting and empowering (the common good) all of its citizens – not just the mega rich. We should be emphasizing the need for progressive taxes to build the common wealth and fund the national programs that will protect and empower us: checks and balances, education, Internet, energy independence, reversing climate change caused by consuming fossil fuels and other national infrastructure. We don’t need more tax breaks for the Paris Hilton’s of the world?
How would would we recognize the success of a new progressive cognitive policy?
Here are some guidelines from the last chapter of The Political Mind:
We would understand that our brains evolved for empathy, for cooperation, for connection to each other and to the earth.
We would embrace the fact that empathy is at the heart of American democracy.
We would see how empathy is also at the heart of ecological consciousness.
We would recognize that the two major American modes of political thought – strict and nurturant – exist, but in nonintersecting realms.
Progressive thought would be understood as having as its moral base the politics of empathy, with the responsibility and strength to act on that empathy. The role of government would be seen as protection and empowerment.
Conservative politics would be recognized as being the politics of authority, discipline and obedience: …
It would be understood that conservatives are not going to go away, … The question of whether American politics should be based on empathy or authority will not disappear.
The vital importance of childrearing would be recognized. … Advocates of strict father upbringing – like James Dobson and Dr. Laura – would be recognized as harmful to children.
Privateering would be a recognizable conservative strategy. … Deregulation and privatization would be understood not as the elimination of government, but as a shift from a government with accountability to the public to a government without accountability to the public, from public government with a moral mission (protection and empowerment) to private government with only the mission of maximizing profits.
Health would be seen as a matter of protection, not insurance.
Education would be seen as a matter of empowerment … Teaching to the test would be abandoned, replaced by the teaching to think on one’s own.
The immorality of the vast divide between the ultra-wealthy and the middle and lower classes would be manifest.