Monday, November 22, 2004

Yet another backlash has begun

I recently complained about the lack of real diversity on my campus after an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education did the same for the average US campus. I have since discovered that the Columbia Spectator has complained about this two days before me, the New York Times did it a week later, and so has today's Wall Street Journal. Now there's diversity for you.

But the story gets worse. To democrats and liberals this lack of diversity is either a good thing or simply a joke. (See the famous Brandom quotes about liberals just being smarter. . .) However, it is the same kind of joke that got Bush elected, and will start coming back to bite these people in the butt pretty soon. Using the American university as a large liberal indoctrination center will encourage lots of blowback (unintended consequences). How so? Well, today's NY Times has a piece on Liberty School of Law. The school's founder the Rev. Jerry Falwell said that "If our graduates wind up in the government, they'll be social and political conservatives. If they wind up as judges, they'll be presiding under the Bible." This, frankly, scared the hell out of me. But they are attracting students and justifying their existence on the grounds that there are not two sides presented on campuses in any discussion on any issue. There is no liberal and conservative view, but rather just a liberal view, and they are providing the conservative one. So we will end up with two types, liberals and conservatives, and this country will get locked in to ever murkier battles about some fundamental issues and we will be so polarized that half the country will be essentially democratically disenfranchised.

Liberals would do well to realize what is going on and not react by becoming even more liberal. That has been the strategy till now, and all it got them is a very conservative Executive branch, a very conservative legislative branch, a soon-to-be very conservative judicial branch, and a very large chip on their shoulder. It is time for liberals to take stock of themselves and their causes.

Here is some advice:
1) As many of my friends would say: "Stop hatin'". Get over the fact that you lost and stop hating Bush and conservatives. Stop patronizing them as if you know better. Most likely you don't. If you do, you certainly aren't smart enough to convince conservatives of it.

2) Prioritize. Find out what is important and pursue it. Do not pursue every single cause you think goes with the liberal package. If you think the environment is really the most important thing on the national agenda, pursue it. Tell us clearly why it is so important and how you will fix it. Do not blame anyone for not doing it, just pursue those issues. Do not think you will win every battle though. Do not then go for the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the FCC, tort reform, gay marriage, socialized medicine, more money for everything, bigger government, smaller military, more museums, abortion promotion, feeding the whales, helping the Palestinians, ignoring the Sudanese, supporting the UN, ending globalization, and whatever else liberals are vigorously pursuing these days.

3) Compromise. Realize that if you have any long-term interests, there will be short term compromises that you will have to make. Moreover, you are already making them because you have no choice, so you might as well look magnanimous doing it. Pretend to talk about how silly the gay marriage idea was. Agree that the Patriot act might help prevent some terrorism. Realize that Saddam was not a good guy and should have been removed regardless of whether he actually was in bed with bin Laden, or he just gave large sums of money to suicide bombers.

4) Listen. In a non-patronizing way, take a conservative to lunch. Find out what he or she cares about. Do not read a pamphlet called something like "How to win a debate with a conservative" beforehand. Do not try to be right. You will just end up realizing you are right, and the person you had lunch with will realize why he hates you and wants to screw over everything you hold dear. You will come off as sanctimonious and arrogant, like you usually do. This time, really listen. Realize that you two share the same country, and right now, he is on top. One day you might be, but now he is. Even if you disagree, you must learn to respect his point of view. This is what we have been teaching liberals since J. S. Mill. It is about time liberals take their own advice.

5) Think. Think about a) why you are a liberal and b) what that means to you. You might just find that you have accepted a whole package of ideas just because they were bundled together by Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, or the Village Voice. How many people out there really believe in every last one of the liberal dogmas? I certainly do not. Nor could I possible believe in every conservative dogma, nor could any sane human. Allow yourself the freedom to have your own opinions about everything. Assume that there are some things you might agree to if you can make a conservative friend. It won't hurt, I promise.

All of these will win you points with conservatives, will not change much anyway in "their" favor, and might get you a concession or two on something important. Moreover it might stem the flow of people leaving liberal and Democratic camps in droves.

Universities like Falwell's thrive on being the "alternative viewpoint". If liberals wire a bit less to the left there would be no need for such strong alternatives, and they would loose momentum.

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