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Fri May 21, 2021, 06:39 PM

Were old conservatives right?

Like many Americans I have been perplexed by what has happened to the Republican Party and why so many in the "boomer" generation, the GOPs largest pool of voters, seems so....out of touch with reality. And I have one hypothesis that has been slowly developing in my brain that I am trying to make sense of and I figured you fine folks might have some insight or opinions on what's been rattling around in my head for awhile.

I had a bit of an epiphany on this while actually watching an episode of Mystery Science Theater, of all things. It was actually one of their short films that they would sometimes watch before an actual movie. It was an educational movie from 1950 called "Are You Ready for Marriage?". Stick with me here. Sure it was low budget and cheesey but the information was actually pretty spot on from a relationship counseling point of view. A bit antiquated in some ways but shockingly the core information actually holds up 70 years later.

However, what dawned on me is that the characters on MST3K making fun of this educational video were attacking it from the angle of "look at this crusty old nonsense. What does a government funded video know about relationships?! This is just quasi fascist propaganda!". The entire thing was dismissed because this is the nonsense their parents were taught in school. Really, what could "experts" in the 1950s know about relationships love? The film was probably just written as a way to indoctrinate kids to follow whatever the rich and powerful wanted them to follow. Just conformist nonsense!

I mention Mystery Science Theater because the people who were on the show and wrote for the show in the 1990s were part of that boomer generation and a lot of their criticisms of the period before the counterculture of the 1960s does come down to , and this is me paraphrasing, "look at all of these 1950s sheep in lockstep and not thinking for themselves! They were oppressed and didn't even know it". What's interesting about the people who made that show in the 1990s is that they by and large hardcore Republicans today. It seems odd that 25 years ago they were saying "our parents generation were just a bunch of conformists" but today being "conservatives" in a political party that could be argued has some pretty overt fascist beliefs.

Now of course I'm not basing anything I'm about to say on a single show from the 1990s but instead a trend I've been slowly recognizing has been around in this country certainly for my entire life (I'm in my mid 30s). And that trend is, being very skeptical of or even hostile toward authority. What if that is the reason why we have so many problems in this country today? I'll admit I've had the same beliefs in the past. Why should I trust politicans? They are all corrupt and they are all lying criminals. Why should I trust economic "experts"? They don't know how things are in the real world. Why should I trust the BLS when they say the unemployment rate is at whatever percent? They are probably lying. Why should I trust a pharmaceutical company when they say a drug is safe and effective? They are only out for money and profits. A few years back, I would have said the attitudes of liberals in the 1960s were 100% correct and the stuffy old ways of doing things were wrong.

That does make me wonder, what if the older people in the 1960s and 70s who were uneasy about the changes in attitudes amoung young people at the time (the boomer generation) were at least party right? Now of course I'm not saying the civil rights movement was bad or feminism in the 60s and 70s went too far. But what if other aspects of the counter culture were infact dangerous for the United States? Especially as older Americans would have said back then, a disrespect for authority?

Just look at the Republican Party today. It's filled with those people who 40-50 years ago grew up in a counterculture movement that said authority needs to always be questioned, don't trust anyone with power, fuck the system, etc. Now they are paranoid lunitics. They think the entire government is out to get them, that big pharma is putting mind control microchips in vaccines , that elections are being stolen all over the country, and that sinister shadowy forces are controlling the world. They live in a reality where it makes more sense that fake ballots were flown in from China and that a long dead central American dictator meddling in our election is the reason Biden won and not simply that Trump legitimately lost. Or where a global pandemic that has killed millions was all just part of a plan to make Republicans look bad. Could this be the end result of a generation that took a counter culture against the way things were done in the United States too far, as was warned about by older conservative people in the 50's, 60's, and 70's? Maybe they were right to worry about where the country was headed because it seems like we have ended up in a pretty bad place.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 06:55 PM

1. Those old conservatives led the Republican party right where it is today.

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Response to Autumn (Reply #1)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:04 PM

3. Would a conservative I'm 1960 like the modern GOP?

They might be down with all of the racism but everything seems pretty foreign to what a conservative 40 or 50 or 60 years ago would believe.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Reply #3)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:15 PM

5. They, like Cheney might not like it but this is what they are. I'm from the hippy generation and

I don't remember of know of any Hippies being conservative and the ones I still know are progresive.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:02 PM

2. Sorry, but your theory is flawed

There's a misconception among people from younger generations that the 60s generation was a monolith of hippies and antiwar and civil rights activists. In fact, most of the younger people then went off to war, to jobs and to college. Many of those who did go to college and were against the war weren't joining communes. They didn't want to die for a stupid cause and when it was over, they joined the rat race, and in the 80s voted for Reagan. THEY are the ones who make up the repub party today.

Your other theories are flawed as well. No, the conservatives were not right. Questioning authority was the right thing to do because authority was the reason we stayed in a war no one believed we could win, and the authorities kept killing people of color even though Nixon and the rest knew it was unwinnable. If you don't question that, or question why black people can't vote, or hold jobs, then what do you think should be questioned. Questioning Victorian era rules regarding sex was just as justified.

Are some former hippies in Q Anon now? Probably. But I guarantee there are many more from your generation who are caught up in it. I don't generalize about all people in their 30s because of it. But I know it's popular among younger people to blame everytthing on the Boomers, even the ones who right tried to stop an unjust war. But this is really a stretch.

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Response to Doc Sportello (Reply #2)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:18 PM

6. But the boomer generation went heavy for Trump

And my fellow 30-39 now year olds went pretty heavy for Biden. Sure there are young people who voted Trump and old people who voted Biden but people over 65 were the only age group who end more for Trump compared to Biden. Boomers were the core of Trump's support in 2016 and 2020. Maybe the old hippies aren't all Republicans now but the people who grew up in those years are.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Reply #6)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:48 PM

9. Bite your tongue

I am the end of the boomers. I am 63 now, never voted for a repuke, especially not lately. None of my friends voted for any of the sh*t going on now with the repukes either. They all hate it. My next door neighbors are total tRumpers. I stay away from them. But all of my friends, etc are not. All voted for Biden.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Reply #6)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:58 PM

11. No, the did not go heavily for drumpf

51 to 48 for drumpf:
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1184426/presidential-election-exit-polls-share-votes-age-us/

YOUR generation voted 45 percent for drumpf. So not heavily either way. And where did you get "but the people who grew up in those years are" repubs? No, they are not all repubs and the numbers are closer than you think. It's just that age group votes in larger numbers.

You are basing your whole "theory" on watching a 90s comedy tv show and an ignorance of the 60s and of electoral facts. Making generalizations is not a good idea generally and there are plenty of histories about the time that will give you a fact-based take on the 60s rather than stereotyping an entire generation, either taking them to task for being anti-authoritarian then or how they vote now. You can't just make things up; that's what the other side does.

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Response to Doc Sportello (Reply #2)

Fri May 21, 2021, 08:03 PM

12. This

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:08 PM

4. I'd say today's right wing nuts are more shaped by Ronald and Nancy Reagan

That whole era was about destroying our government. Boomers rebelled against everything. But we did believe in truth. We grew up listening to rock ‘n’ roll, not, “just say no”

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:43 PM

7. I'm something of a hardliner on this, so I often find myself disabusing people of old fallacies

This usually involves William F. Buckley, and the persons I have in mind when I say this usually have his old show Firing Line in mind when they praise him as an "old school" conservative in contrast to absolutist modern varieties.

I have to remind them that Firing Line ran from 1966 to 1999, and that their memories usually involve the first half of that run (the 60s thru early 80s) when Buckley had to advance his arguments in an environment that did not knee-jerkedly accept conservative talking points. The environment was more liberal and he had to take pains about how he presented his arguments to avoid looking like a ranting crank. But his arguments were, and have largely proven to be, ideological crank material.

He was also one of the people at the forefront of turning the Republican party into what it is today. He's one of the people who in 1952 was raring for a Republican to turn back the New Deal, and was apoplectic when Northeastern Establishment Republicans outmaneuvered the "cancel the New Deal" Taft backers and made fine-with-New-Deal-structure Eisenhower the Republican candidate for President. He's one of the ones who entrenched the idea that the 1960 election had been "stolen" from Nixon because of what ever Daley might have done in Chicago, conveniently ignoring that if Illinois had gone Republican Kennedy still would have won.

He was committed to breaking up Democratic voting blocks. One of the things he is most lauded for, sidelining the Bircher leadership, he did because, a mere 20 years after the Holocaust and still very much within living memory, he saw that the "Jewish-conspiracy" prone Birchers would prevent splitting any conservative Jews away from the Democratic party.

He courted racist Southern conservatives with the same political calculations.

He was a founder and leader of the conservative movement that considered compromise to be betrayal and appeasement of a greater evil. He helped found New York state's Conservative Party as a tool to push the state Republican party rightward, to deny them victory if they did not tow a sufficiently conservative line. He was instrumental in destroying Rockefeller Republicans as a political force within the GOP, and they have been eliminationist about those who fail to get with a "conservatively correct" party line ever since.

The Father of Movement Conservatism laid the foundations for a party that worshiped a man like Trump, so deep was his hatred for any moderation.

He just had an Ivy League education and operated in an environment where he had to play nice to gain ground. But under the facade, he was always a just a Yalie prick.

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Response to JHB (Reply #7)

Fri May 21, 2021, 08:10 PM

13. +1000

👍
👏

✌🏻

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:45 PM

8. This has nothing to do with your post and the point you are making, although relevant.

About 40 years ago I discovered that the university I was attending had bound issues of old Life Magazines, dating to when it started, in 1936. So I started reading them. Sequentially. Absolutely fascinating. I learned at least as much from the advertisements as from the articles.

I eventually got to WWII, and was able to read through the end of March, 1945. I still kind of wonder how the war ended. It's clear Germany is done, and it's just a matter of time, but it looks like we'll be fighting in Japan at least another year. Well, okay, I really do know how the war ended.

But this is my point. I'm a Boomer, very much of the anti-Vietnam War sentiment. And by the time I got to 1944, I understood quite viscerally why our collective parents could not understand that point of view. They had truly fought a "good" war, and carried that idea over to Vietnam. We, of course, had only experienced Vietnam, which simply was not a "good" war. It was a powerful lesson in how different the experiences of different generations can be.

And I honestly don't know for sure, but I hope most Boomers are not really Republicans. All of the ones I know and hang out with are very liberal.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 07:56 PM

10. Nahhh...I disagree. The way I interpret things is:

We, as a nation…as a society…are like the ugly spoiled children of a family…the grandparents and parents built a hugely successful endeavor…sacrificed all their lives to build a better life for their snot-nosed ungrateful offspring. These offspring know nothing of what it was like before, and just believe “this is how it always was, and nothing is expected of me and I deserve it all!”

Of course, this is ignoring all the pollution and destruction and waste and death that this “hugely successful endeavor” was built on.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 08:34 PM

14. Too diverse of backgrounds to yield the dangerous "Cons" of today.

Likely there are many conduits of life experience, genetic, and negative influences which evolved the me-ism, fear, anti-Science, anti-Liberal, anti-democratic Con craziness of today. Selecting the Mystery Science Theater bunch's counter-reaction to 50's, I think benign, public service clips, may have some seeds in it. But, I can not see it as a majorly motivating factor of today's Radical Right.

On an aside, Mystery Science Theater is terribly unfunny shtick and gimmicky schlock.

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Response to Dr. Jack (Original post)

Fri May 21, 2021, 08:51 PM

15. Thanks for the responses everyone

I won't really get too aggressive about trying to make counterpoints beyond some clarifications because none of what I wrote above are firmly held beliefs. It's more of me trying to challenge my beliefs, which I basically just adopted verbatim from my father when I was in high school and college, and trying to see things from different angles. I wanted feedback from all of you since I know many of you grew up in that time and have not only lived through that history but also studied it extensively. And of course our political reality in 2021 is certainly new in my life time and I'm trying to make sense of it. That is why I came here and discussed what has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now before ever expressing it to anyone else. I find many of the people here to have very valuable opinions and life experiences. So I have no planes to argue or debate what anyone is saying in a significant way. Instead I am reading all of your thoughts and will meditate on all of this further.

I'm very much in a place in my life right now where I'm really trying to challenge what I think I know and frankly figure out who I really am. So none of this is an attack on anyone here, quite the opposite. It's because, and I don't say this lightly, I highly value the insight of this group.



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