Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Who Speaks For Me, Again?

Lately I've noticed a trend of sorts, or perhaps it's a theme that has always been there: liberals think that famous conservatives are speaking for the great unwashed masses of dittoheads [beware idiotic link], as if conservatives were looking for a leader to tell them how to think. 'Taint like that at all.

I think the error comes from a fundamental difference between liberal and conservative world views: are you an individual, or part of a group? Conservatives see people as individuals first, while liberals see people as members of groups. Conservatives tend to believe it takes two parents to raise a child, while liberals tend to think it takes a village.

Another possibility is that liberals want someone to speak for the downtrodden, and get used to the idea that leaders speak for the group.

Thence the annoying misconception that conservatives look to their leaders for moral and ideological guidance. Conservatives (and for the purpose of this post, libertarians) want someone to articulate the things conservatives as individuals already independently believe.

The conservative movement is all about ideas, not personalities, coalitions, or leaders. There are conservative groups, of course, but their beliefs are not coordinated or cross-checked. The notion that a message would come down from on high about what to believe is so silly it feels like a straw man, yet that appears to be how liberals think conservatives get their beliefs.

  • I like Rush Limbaugh, but I'm not his parrot
  • I enjoy Ann Coulter's wit and fearless disregard for backlash, but I'm not her groupie
  • TV preachers get tarred with the brush of every scandal that any of them triggers, and many of them are intelligent, wise, and good people, but I'm not part of their flock
  • I'm a 2nd Amendment hardliner, but the NRA doesn't speak for me
  • As far as I can tell Toby Keith is a great American, but he doesn't speak for me, either
  • No columnist, pundit, blogger, nor anyone dunked in a think tank speaks for me
  • And Bill O'Reilly definitely is not my spokesman
No one has exactly the same viewpoint on every issue, and even if someone shared my beliefs perfectly, I would not want them to take my rightful place on my own soapbox. My voice is my own, and while I may lend it, I will not yield it.

But then, I don't speak for all conservatives.

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Jimmy said...

Wow, Socrates. Do you write for a magazine, newspaper or any op-ed media besides this one? If not, you should.

Indeed, there are many points of view being reduced to two, glib and usually incorrect positions in American politics. I hate it, too. Does the mass media think we're TOO LAZY to think? Or aren't interested? Or did Madison Avenue of the 50's and 60's take over our public discourse with their 15 second commercials and then several generations of Journalism students were taught it and bought it?

The "Who speaks for me?" and "The Search for Like Minds" goes on almost as acts of desperation for millions of us.

Keep up the good work.


HMIL said...

Nicely said! Please count me in your "non-group" group, K? Having grown up on the Left Coast for most of my life, I'm pretty much used to thinking and speaking for myself, thank you very much, and no celebrity (especially no leftist celebrity troll) can even *begin* to speak for me.

*Must* link to this post on my blog!

[\steps off soap box now]

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