Not long ago, a woman whom I know fairly well had quite a bit to say about the misguided effort by liberals to equate men and women. Women are not equal to men, they are different from men. They can do things men can’t, and can’t do things men can. Liberals should stop trying to make them the same. She’s solidly anti-abortion, believes husbands are the undisputed heads of households, finds homosexuality distasteful, is utterly baffled by the transgender thing, and so on. She supported Trump’s campaign based on what she was led to believe he would fight for, but don’t be too quick to judge. She’s also one of the best young moms around, fun to know, a well trained R.N., kind to everyone, and an enthusiastic lover of life. It would not be a good idea to put her in a pigeon hole.
I don’t know where she got the idea that liberals want to equate men and women, because she’s equally upset that men in positions of power would dare to tell her what she can and can’t do, or that the worth of what she does is not what a man is worth doing the same job with the same level of skill and experience. My suspicion is she pays too much attention to right wing propaganda. It appeals to her conservative politics. It feeds her rumors about liberal agendas to destroy America’s core values. It exaggerates germs of truth into fantastical camp fire horror stories. It declares contrary evidence to be fake news. Once you’re sucked into a propaganda machine like that, it’s hard to get out, and even harder for anything else to get in.
It creates a strong fortification nearly immune to breaching from any angle. Broadsides of fact checking just bounce off. Well reasoned arguments are deflected into scatter shot, and then, poof!, there’s no reasoning at all. Even carefully crafted emotional appeals fail. Inside the propaganda walls, life is secure. Outside of them the world is full of unknowns and conflicting claims to truth.
So why bother? Why not let well enough alone? Everyone’s entitled to their opinions.
The reason bothering remains worthwhile is that serious issues of justice are at stake. Core American political values are at stake, values enshrined in the Constitution that have evolved slowly and painfully with each succeeding generation to include more people, more equitably. Genuine conservatives, like liberals, are committed to them, and have something positive to offer in the debate, but who and where are genuine conservatives? Tea party populism helped build the propaganda fortress walls, and locked them out of the political arena, at least for now. Locked inside are people who could be genuine conservatives but for their incarceration.
Genuine conservatives, not taken in by right wing propaganda, are reasonably informed by the facts, aware of issues that must be addressed collaboratively, and cautious about the downside of elaborate schemes liberals are prone to come up with. They tend to be favorably inclined toward corporate business interests, suspicious of higher taxation, worried about over regulation, have different demands for accountability, and are reluctant to put too much trust in social programs. In other words, they create obstacle courses to be navigated, and that’s not a bad thing. It keeps things in perspective, and requires liberals to prove their points.
In today’s electoral environment, would be genuine conservatives such as my young friend, have been highjacked by far right Trumpian neofascists, and led to believe that’s what being conservative is. I’ve heard all the reasons for the rise of far right wing populism marching down the fascist road. Knowing the reasons is no reason to let it go on. It has to change. Apparently, it’s up to liberals to restore a place for genuine conservative voices. The lies of the far right have to be made clear, not to liberals, but to conservatives in right wing captivity. They don’t have to be convinced that liberals are right. They have to be convinced that there is a better way for conservative voices to be expressed. Genuine conservatives remaining free of captivity must be given respect, and not treated as if they are simply right wingers in disguise.
It sounds counter intuitive, but liberals making room for conservative voices is part of what we need to do to restore integrity to our democratic processes.