The Truth behind the Leftist Stereotype
By Esther Hartstein
January 2, 2002
Before the political realm met and merged with my own, I harbored many preconceived illusions about Conservatives and Liberals. These images, in defiance of their factual nihilism, still cling to me today. I believe them to be a result of my overactive subconscious that had been thirstily drinking up the subtle stereotypes presented in the media.
In these illusions, Liberalism was the dashing cause of heroes and movie stars. It was partly a gift bestowed by the compassionate, and partly a title reserved for the educated, tolerant, brilliant, and free-flung. To me, the very word, "Liberalism", yielded images of hippies cavorting in the streets, intellectuals fervently protesting on campus, and America's with-it crowd passionately devouring the proffered assets of the free world.
In the dull outer recesses of this mental picture, there sat the Conservatives. What an ignorant bunch they were! They were the culturally abandoned suppressors of all that was hip and modern, the predictable reactionary refuse accompanying the emergence of our wonderful, liberated culture. Characterizing these Conservatives were the impressions that they were semi-literate and generally not college educated; that they recognized no institutions other than church and family. To them, "The Family" was a narrowly defined entity consisting of a wife, suppressed by demurity, who spent her days slaving after screeching kids while her fanatical, no-thrills husband worked some job involving cows and/or tractors. This was an essentially obnoxious element that lived to preach, to suppress, to scorn, and overall, to hate.
This illusion was completely, bereftly ignorant of the existence of Right-Wing thought or ideology on any level. The very concept of "ideology" supposedly belonged lock, stock, and smoking barrel to the Left, along with the virtues of passion, tolerance, fun, the Liberation of the Female, and good sex, over which the Liberals held a monopolistic practice.
In short, my mind's eye saw only the "future" (Liberalism), and the black shards of America's ugly past which stood crumbling in its way (Conservatism).
On my way through adolescence, I quested for deeper explanations of the two ideologies. I discovered what I recognize as the truth: That Conservatives respect one's property and the liberty of its private use, while liberals do not. That Conservatives see the fruits of merit, while Liberals see only the journey through the forest of sacrifice. That Conservatives hold the long-term interests of the economy at heart, while Liberals turn their hearts unyieldingly in favor of the next welfare check regardless of societal costs. That Conservatives are patrons of civilized Epicurean Hedonism, while Liberals angrily fight for their right to spread destruction through an unfettered, purely Egoistical Hedonism.
And thus, I became a Conservative. I learned to hunger for the wealth of Conservative aspirationisms that I never knew existed. I knew the validity of Conservative theory with my intellect, but because of a lack of involvement with other Conservatives that was hindering my full outlook, I did not see the truth of Conservatism with my eyes. My Conservative ideology failed to transcend an exclusively rational level of belief, and therefore, I still held on to my old illusions. As I quoted the likes of Ronald Reagan and John Locke, I still, on some irrational level, believed myself to be "ignorant" for it. As I shouted slogans, debated as if my life depended on it, and wore humorous T-shirts, I believed myself to be dried up and passionless, because weren't all Conservatives? This rationale led me to believe that despite my A average, I was "unenlightened" and "uneducated", that despite my shocking tattoos, I was a prude, and that despite my blazing ambitions (and gender!) I was an unempowered enemy of Wo men.
These illusions met a crushing defeat during the Bush campaign (which I had my house egged once for supporting). Sometimes, I would look from our side to theirs and notice the contrast, not just between the Conservatives and Liberals, bt between the reality before me and the illusions that the media had hitherto been feeding me. The illusions were now patently delusions. On the Conservative side, I did not see any "bigots" or illiterate trash. I saw a lot of blond hair, a lot of spirit, a lot of wealth (even opulence), high degrees in all fields and a warm abundance of gentle politesse. On the Liberal side, I saw a cruder element of ugly NOW advocates, poverty-stricken high school dropouts, drooling seniors, sentimental, anti-gun soccer moms, etc. I saw a stark incongruity of politesse among the two camps, as well as one in the education department. The contrasts were astounding.
Not only did the Liberals reveal themselves (as being not that educated, refined, modern, and liberated after all), they downright turned themselves in with the self-betraying tone of their campaign. I mean, here was the self-proclaimed Cream of the Enlightened Crop hurling thoughtless articles of bigotry at the man who is now our president. Like a gang of nasty, enraged playground bullies they were! They redefined the word "slur" to my privileged, right-wing-pampered ears. "Stupid southerner". "Semi-literate white trash". "Coke-snorting klansman".
The words echo in my ears even now as an ode to the person I once was; a trusting child in a world of promulgated deceptions.
Copyright 200 by Esther Hartstein. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.