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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 12:36 AM

"Putting Faith in the Conservative Creed"

Putting Faith in the Conservative Creed

by Amanda Marcotte at the American Prospect



Part of the problem is the word “believe.” In many cases, "believe" can be used interchangeably with words like “know,” “understand,” and “accept.” I believe that my dinner will be a burrito. I believe in the theory of evolution. But the word also stands in for ideological stances. Then there are “beliefs” that serve to align individuals with other conservatives. Believing that climate change is a hoax, that Obama is a foreign national, or that ACORN stole the 2008 election: These beliefs have more symbolic than literal meaning to those who hold them. They are to being a conservative what believing in the Virgin Birth is to being a Christian.

The mind-set, reaffirming core principles in every conversation, has become the dominant way of communicating in conservative circles. Some of this stems from the heavy overlap with evangelical Christianity, where evangelical-specific urban legends run rampant. Religion blogger Fred Clark used as an example the Christian myth that Proctor & Gamble was run by Satanists, pointing out that people who share this story do so to prop up their identity as loyal evangelicals more than to make a factual observation about the world. Liberals understand very well how conservative nonsense serves political ends—by rationalizing attacks on reproductive rights or stalling regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions—but equally important is the way that bullshit plays this role in establishing that the bullshit-believer belongs to the conservative club.

The devotion to untruth serves right wing’s emotional needs as well. Movement conservatives take discomfort with the changing nation and channel it into a belief that everyone outside of the conservative tribe is out to get them. Everything else flows from that. If the real world is out to get you, reality-based knowledge—especially that mediated by perceived “liberal elites”—becomes suspect. So many urban legends in conservative circles center around the idea that the outside world is conspiring against them, such as fevered claims of “voter fraud” or Reagan-era claims of welfare cheats making three figures defrauding the taxpayer.

From characterizing everyone Not-Them as “moochers” to the persistent suspicion that Obama faked his birth certificate in an effort to take the presidency from someone who actually has a right to it: Conservatives fantasize that the mostly older, white population moving further and further to the right is being oppressed by the various groups liberals have forced them to power-share with. To give that up would be to completely reorder their world. As painful as it is to grasp the reality of Obama’s win, it’s safe to say they’re going to go right back to putting their faith in fantasy instead of the realities that the rest of us live in.


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Reply "Putting Faith in the Conservative Creed" (Original post)
applegrove Nov 2012 OP
sigmasix Nov 2012 #1
Zoeisright Nov 2012 #2
applegrove Nov 2012 #3

Response to applegrove (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:06 AM

1. CS functions as a wink and a nod

It sounds like the writer is saying that conspiracy theory mongering from the right wing is more about self identity as a "conservative", than an honest attempt to understand an increasingly complicated world. Given the right-wing personality types that I have experience with on a personal level, I'm inclined to agree with this supposition. The millenialists are a different sort of creature though- they dont identify with a political ideology as much as they do with neo-Christian American fundamentalism. I think it's safe to say that the "end of days" wack-o's actually believe the conspiracy theories that they propagate.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:43 AM

2. A better word for their "beliefs" is "screed".

Not "creed".

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Response to Zoeisright (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:53 AM

3. Absolutely.

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