It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the plight of those such as Bookworm who are Republicans (or Independents, or at the very least non-liberals) living in mega-blue areas such as Marin County, and who choose to keep their mouths firmly shut about their politics for fear of social rifts.
The temptation to “pass” for liberal is very great. I understand; I do. I even feel your pain.
But I have come to believe that the costs of keeping silent are much greater than the costs of speaking up—both for Bookworm and her fellow closet Republicans, and for our country. And yes, even for her liberal friends.
It is the start down the slippery slope, where soon enough even the leftists will turn on their own for not being ideologically pure enough. There's certainly enough historical precedent to show where that path will lead.
Maybe the problem is the closed-mindedness of many of the left, where fact holds no sway, but emotion triumphs over all reason. Goodness knows I've found more than a few of the Left that show no original thinking when it comes to their political beliefs. They parrot the words they've been taught without thinking about what it is they're actually saying. It's a conditioned response.
Not all liberals are as bad as those Neo writes about. I know too many who are dyed-in-the-wool liberals, but can debate and reason and argue with well thought out positions. They are passionate about their political beliefs, but they don't let their emotions sway their decisions. They can change their minds when presented with facts that go against their viewpoints, but are proven valid. I have no problem with that kind of liberal Democrat. (I have a confession: my youngest sister falls into that category. While we do not see eye to eye on a number of social and political issues, we have a great time debating them. Sometimes she changes my mind. Sometimes I change hers.) It is the close-minded type with which I have a real problem.
The comments to Neo's post were fast, furious, and numerous. Some tried to debunk the scenarios painted by Neo and Bookworm. Others cited their own experiences being forced underground in order to remain employed, or to get good grades at university, or to prevent their kids from being shunned. Frankly, I never thought I'd see any part of America become so indoctrinated in such a morally corrupt, neo-fascist ideology. But places like Marin County certainly seem to be havens for such beliefs.
More than one commenter pointed out the definitions of the two factions – leftists and conservatives – need to be redefined. The best one I read about this was by someone going by the nom du wordprocessor Occam's Beard:
“Conservative,” “right-wing,” and “reactionary” originally (19th century) referred to monarchists and pro-clerical movements in France, whereas “liberal” and “left-wing” referred to those opposing them. (Hence the John Stuart Mill quote much beloved of contemporary liberals and now quite anachronistic that “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”)
So the terms are meaningless today. Let’s use instead the terms “individualist” or “collectivist,” which put the characterizations on a more sound operational footing, and avoid conundra such as having to characterize Brezhnev, Kim Jong Il and Castro as right-wing or conservative (and Che Guevara as left-wing, or radical). They are all collectivist, that is to say, subordinate the individual to the state, rather than the converse.
By that standard, all of the totalitarian regimes naturally fall on the collectivist side, as of course they should. Taking individualism to an extreme would lead to anarchy, not totalitarianism.
Frankly, I believe the new definitions are far more descriptive of differences between the two camps, so I will use them more often from now on.
Political beliefs span the spectrum between these two political ideologies. But at the extremes, specifically the collectivist end of the spectrum, the push for government to control of every aspect of people's lives, except for the lives of those in power, is strong. And so is the desire to quash dissent. That's what's been driving this move to 'blacklist' conservatives in bastions of leftist/collectivist group think. The individualists disagree with the politically correct dogma of the collectivists, and therefore must be punished, whether it's though loss of a job, social status, or even recognition that they are alive. It's no wonder a conservative underground has formed, even though it may not be the right approach to countering the close-minded group think that prevails in places like Marin, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and San Francisco, as well as Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, just to name a few places. Hiding away and keeping silent only proves to them that their way, their ideology, is right because there's no one out there saying otherwise. They may be close-minded, but there are plenty of others out there that can be persuaded that the collectivist vision is wrong and should not stand unchallenged. Neo is right. It is more costly in the long run to keep silent. It allows the bastards to win without a fight.