A Closeted SF Conservative

A little over 8 years ago some friends said that they were going to stage an intervention on me. They were gravely concerned about my mental state due to a decision I made. That decision was to vote for John McCain instead of Barack Obama. In 2008 well meaning college educated friends thought that voting for an intelligent, selfless, well meaning conservative was an intervention worthy action equivalent to shooting heroin or having a mental illness. I subsequently ruined a number of social gatherings just by mentioning my political preference. Friends who were laughing w/ me opened the trapdoor beneath me and unleashed their vitriol the moment my opinions became known. I’ve been called a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a flat earther, selfish and everything in between — by friends. By association, the media has called me worse. I wrote a bit on the internet and social media but stopped due to the swarm of hate and the fear that I might one day lose my job the way the Mozilla CEO did. Over the years I just stopped talking politics at all except in the company of family and the few friends mature enough to stomach an alternative viewpoint.

Many things led to Trump. But the vilification of legitimate conservative opinions is chief among them. John McCain and Mitt Romney were made out to be Death Star pilots. That doesn’t leave many metaphors left to describe someone worse than them. So is there any sense in trying to win liberals? Why not nominate someone who — whatever his qualifications — can at least win an argument on the internet? He’ll be trashed as dumb and evil no matter what. I did not vote for Trump. I was never even close. But I totally get why people did. The Non-TED-Talk Americans just stood up and hit our intellectual culture over the head with a frying pan. On that I say, “well struck and well deserved.”

In the bit of time I’ve spent in agriculture, I’ve realized that I’m much more likely to talk to someone who understands basic economics and complex systems in cotton field in Arkansas than I am w/ someone with a million dollars worth of education in San Francisco.

Economics:

Arkansas: “More cotton, same demand means lower cotton prices.”

San Francisco: “More housing does not necessarily mean lower prices. You know people aren’t rational. Have you heard of behavioral economics?”

Complex Systems:

Arkansas: “If I spray herbicide today and it rains tomorrow, the weeds will flush and grow two inches per day. The crop canopy will not outpace that so I’ll have to spray herbicide again. If it’s hot and it doesn’t rain, the field will dry in time for a second pass…”

San Francisco: “Ben Bernanke knows how to set the exchange rate. He has so much data.”

Our intellectual culture mocked and denigrated people in part for properly understanding the governing dynamics of the world we inhabit. That’s not to say that many comments I’ve heard in cotton fields don’t deserve denigration. Many of them do. But neither “side” is playing w/ a full deck. Ivy League Education + TED Talks + NYT + New Yorker does not yield anything close to “working knowledge of the world.” Conversely, good working knowledge of the world gained through trial and error does not excuse racism and homophobia.

There is no innate truth to the liberal elite echo chamber in which we live. It’s just a bunch of smart people saying the same thing. Some of the things are true. But a lot them just aren’t. So rather than hitting refresh on Huffpo / Vox / NYT / Slate to make sense of the election why not go check out the National Review or the Weekly Standard? There is no rule that you have to agree w/ what you read. If you can’t figure out why a person would think that “universal healthcare” is a bad idea without attributing malicious intent to them, then you have some work to do. If you have never heard a compelling argument for why Keynesian Economics is similar in validity to rain dances, then buy a book about the Austrian school of Economics. While you may not change your mind, hopefully you’ll realize that these issues are more complicated than “people who think those things are dumb and evil.”

Forming a strong opinion about how the world works has been one of the great joys of my life. Sharpening it by sharing it with others and testing it against their arguments has made it better. Hopefully myself and other conservatives like me will be able to do that openly again. It seems that today many are recognizing that this intolerance is a problem. So I’m briefly poking my head out of the closet to say, “yes, it is.” I love this country, I love my friends, I know you mean well and I know you’re not happy w/ how things worked out. So we can start this sad day on something conservatives like me and liberals like you agree on, “neither am I.”