I am pleased to introduce a great friend as the first addition to the writing stable here at Modern Age Revolution, the electrifying Humberto Guida.
He might have the talent and charisma to save the world from injustice, but chose a career in media and entertainment instead. He enjoys covering everything from pop culture to politics and has distinguished himself as a writer, producer, and comedian. Humberto is based in Los Angeles by way of Miami, where he first made a name for himself as an alternative columnist after a manic-yet-supportive Cuban-American upbringing.
Welcome to the Modern Age Revolution team, Humberto. Glad to have you on board. — Teddy Tutson
I’m doing stand up in a Marina Del Rey bar the other night. Two tourists – a white, middle-aged, Middle American couple, both of whom have the same short haircut – enjoy the free comedy show during their steak dinner and Coors. I can’t help it. I ask whom they are voting for. “Anyone but Obama,” the crew cut donning, blonde woman replies. “He’s a jerk.”
After assuring the crowd that a black man doesn’t have a chance with them, to which they smirk, I ask why they thought he was a jerk. “He doesn’t have American values,” she says. Now, I’m something of a mind reader. So I playfully exclaim, “You’re not a Newt Supporter are you? I can see it in your face.”
They both nod yes.
I yell, “No!”
I try asking the woman if she sees any conflicting logic in thinking President Barack Obama, a man who is a model husband and father (we know this because if he so much as popped a boner at the thought of another woman or if his kids ever did anything remotely rambunctious, Fox News would have run a marathon news cycle about it by now), a man who by all accounts made a success of himself through his own hard work and talent, a man who rarely even raises his voice when confronted by his enemies, that he could be the antithesis of American values.
Yet Newt Gringrich, a man who left one of his three wives, the cancer-stricken one, on her hospital bed to run away with his current, glassy-eyed mannequin, a man who has asked for open marriage, a man who sparked a government shutdown during his term as Speaker. Somehow he’s the one with “values”? The redneck woman just nods.
“I just know this country is going in the wrong direction,” she says.
I can’t do it anymore. I don’t have it in me to get into it with conservatives on any level. Speaking to a brick wall gives me a better chance of getting through to someone. Maybe it’s because brick walls are less dense than today’s conservative thinkers (pardon the oxymoron).
As recent polls show, today’s conservatives are farther to the right than they’ve been since the mid 1800’s. A radical, outer fringe Republican circa the 1970‘s wouldn’t even sniff a primary win these days. Not even in California! Meanwhile, liberals remain as close to the middle as ever. We just want balance.
Republican voters continue to view the political spectrum in this country as far right versus far left. What they fail to see is that the far left is very much a disproved thing of the past. Far left is communism. Only Cuba and North Korea can truly say they’re still embarking on that failed experiment.
Modern day American liberals want a balance between public and private interests, not a totality to one side or the other. We are, by most counts, centrists compared with the current incarnation of the Republican Party. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making money. I just think it should be taxed at the top to give the bottom some help up, and to keep the middle from falling any further down.
But conservatives, veering to the right like Mario Andretti on the final turn of the Indy 500, increasingly believe in near total privatization. That’s what is radical. And don’t get me into the social conservative angle. That’s just ridiculous. More and more, conservatives continue to purge any sense of moderation in their rank and file. Their absolute aversion to any middle of the road solution is not just stubborn, it’s irrational.
The irony of their contradictions is often lost on them, as displayed when Tea Party members carry signs in one hand that say “Keep your Government hands off my Medicare”, while holding the lever to an oxygen mask in the other hand, paid for by the same government insurance program that gave them the motorized scooter they ride on.
What is the matter with these people? Are they out of their minds? Well apparently, they’re at least stupid. According to a recent article published on the Huffington Post by Jessica Seares discussing the study of IQ’s among conservatives, most of their problems lie in their simpleton minds:
“The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood…
Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience…
Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.” — Huffington Post, February 2012
The thing is, when you’re that prone to being dense, there’s no rational argument, no set of facts that will move you off your flawed positions. Recently, Republicans put women’s contraception in their crosshairs. They also want to roll back Roe vs. Wade. You’d think that better access to contraception leads to less abortions, but why let logic get in the way of conservative thinking?
Most conservatives, like the redneck couple at my comedy show, live in a vacuum where no one questions their faith in things like faith and not facts. They want it that way. Which is why they won’t even give the real Obama a chance. These people turn off the TV when he comes on. They brag about not being able to stand hearing him speak. They only read or listen to his sound bytes through the lens of Fox News. They refuse to form an opinion based on the real man. So they make up some abject commie, Muslim, Black Panther dictator to take the country back from.
Here’s what Bill Maher had to say on one of his recent New Rules segments on his HBO show, Real Time:
“You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X. And he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet, Saul Alinsky!
Run down the list of complaints about “fantasy Obama”: he wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it. And read terrorists their rights. Yeah, like he did [to Somali pirates]
You see, the difference is the Republicans’ hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do, what he’s thinking, what he secretly wants to change.” –- “New Rules”, February 2012
So where does it come from? Why have conservatives flipped their collective lid? Why does it seem all Republicans are white, Middle Americans who “want their country back” from some evil villain? Did you know some of these people even used to be Democrats? It’s true. But as many of them say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me.”
Understand what they mean by that? You see, these conservatives aren’t really against government funding infrastructure, supporting workers rights, hell, even issuing “entitlements”. That’s what the Democratic Party was all about back in the day. It was about helping the little guy against those greedy Scrooges who crapped all over Jimmy Stewart’s venerable town in It’s a Wonderful Life.
They understood it’s the Democrats who helped shape the America we have today, a country where people who aren’t rich, or white, or male, can have an opportunity. Where the old are taken care of, and the poor and immigrants are treated with dignity and respect. Where women and minorities, and gays, and (God forbid) Muslims have rights.
And there’s the rub. That’s where we lost these people who today rant and rave a backwards ideology about freedom and liberty, while assailing a woman’s right to choose, gays’ right to marry, or anti-discrimination laws that prevent restaurants and hotels from turning away someone who is black or brown. When government began to look out for those “other” people, groups who were once stepped on by the rich white class with impunity, that’s when government became the problem and not the solution it had been from the New Deal through the Great Society.
President Lyndon Johnson famously said after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “We have just lost the South for a generation.” Hippies didn’t help. But the notion that the South is bought and paid for by Republicans thanks to the rise of social liberalism is still true today of course, as one-time Southern Democrats who’d vote for liberal things like protections of miner unions, now run Republican. And with that, they’ve turned over their minds to the ideas that with less government, more can be done about the infestation of poor, non-white, non-Christian people in this country. It’s not something they acknowledge, even among themselves. But sometimes it comes out. Mostly, though, they’re in denial.
Matt Tiabbi puts it best in his telling look at the Tea Party in the November 2010 issue of Rolling Stone:
You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don’t see what the problem is. It’s no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what’s real to them is the implication in your question that they’re racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it’s an outrage that binds them together…
The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can’t; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.
I have a family member who represents a lot of conservatives to a tee. He is actually someone I’m very close to, and he helped shape my liberal leanings. Yes, like many of today’s Republicans, he used to be a Democrat. A bleeding-heart, JFK-revering, anti-Reagan, environmentalist, vegetarian, liberal! Until, that is, the 9/11 catastrophe. That’s when he flipped. Just like Dennis Miller. Exactly like Dennis Miller.
All of a sudden, my family member went from a guy who voted for Bill Clinton (twice) and Al Gore in 2000, to a George W. Bush supporter, who believed Muslims should be dealt with militarily before they get him and his kids. But it went beyond the national security concerns. Little by little, he began to digest the conservative Kool Aid so many men his age drink. It wasn’t just Muslims, it was the welfare queens living off his hard-earned wages through excessive taxation. It was environmental activists somehow keeping him from driving an SUV. It was the queers indoctrinating his kids into God-knows-what kind of depravity.
He began believing the bullshit one must believe to live inside the conservative bubble. Where he felt safe. He bought into the unfortunate ruse that if you defend the rich and white from whiny poor people and minorities, than trickle down economics will reward his middle class existence with a well-performing 401-K or some shit. Oh, and he’ll be safe from the boogeyman too.
It got worse. A few years after he re-registered Republican, he began to think climate change was a hoax, public schools should be done away with, Mexicans are over-running this country (keep in mind my anti-immigrant family member is an immigrant himself), and–I couldn’t believe this one–he recently questioned evolution saying, “You expect me to believe we came from some slime in the ocean.” He’s not even religious!
The evolution denying was like a punch in the gut to my respect for the man. The conservatism was infecting his train of thought. I thought it was sad because he slowly but surely disavowed most if not all of his remaining liberal beliefs. He became a different person. He literally used to be smarter when he was liberal. And more likable too! He was fun and adventurous, now he’s bitter at and fearful of the world.
A string of contentious emails going back to the last presidential election broiled into an all out shouting match last Christmas. It began after a few whiskey straights, Then he starts with the rant against Obamacare and Medicare and Social Security. Mind you, he’s in his 50’s, and has a hip condition. Those things he hates are all things he’ll be depending on in the years to come. I couldn’t let it pass.
I cut in the conversation. And I explained that thanks to Obamacare, his pre-existing condition will not prevent him from obtaining insurance coverage should he lose his job and need to switch his insurer. He talks over me and continues to rail against the abject socialism and infringement on his God-given American liberty that Obama and the Democrats have embarked on in his lifetime. To my discredit I raised my voice and it went downhill from there.
Most of us have a similar situation with conservative friends and family. It’s hard to fight with someone you love. It’s hard to have contempt for half the people in this country. I like people. I really do. I’d also like to think blood is thicker than politics. But after a yelling at my beloved family member at the top of my lungs during Christmas dinner, and after dropping more than few of my conservative Cuban friends from Miami from my Facebook account so I wouldn’t have to deal with being called a commie (not cool for a Cuban) or a fag every time I questioned a Republican move or defended Obama, I’ve decided to sing to the choir for a while. If I interact with conservatives I wll finally listen to my mom and not talk politics or religion.
Maybe I’ll be ready to scrap in the coming months of this very important election year. But for now, a moment of brevity, a moment of sanity.