Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, March 30, 2012

If you’re not careful, not drinking will turn you into a liberal?

Rolling Stone Magazine once relied on Hunter S. Thompson’s paranoid genius and drug use to caricature Republicans. Now, it employs a stable of highly educated political psychologists who rely on questionnaires. Thompson was more fun, just as convincing, and less expensive all round.  

Chris Mooney’s reports on a recent study in his article this week: "Can Drinking Make You Conservative? (and Other Questions About the Political Brain.)"

“The researchers were actually outside the bar – a bar in New England – where they flagged down exiting patrons with quite the request: Would they get their blood alcohol level tested and fill out a short questionnaire on their political views? Eighty-five of them consented to share their level of agreement with statements like "Production and trade should be free of government interference" and "Ultimately, privately property should be abolished." Then came the breathalyser.

“When the scientists collated the results, it turned out that, on average, the higher the subject's blood alcohol level, the more likely he or she was to express conservative opinions. This was true of liberals and conservatives alike; both groups appeared to shift to the right.”

Rather than retreat, Rooney explains why it all makes sense—along with a short advertisement for his new book The Republican Brain.

Apparently, you think like a conservative when you’re slightly and severely incapacitated—when you’re gut is taking over and you have no time for subtlety. On the other hand, the liberal mind loves to reason, to see the other point of view, and imagine unintended consequences. Liberals care about poor people, climate change, and unregulated markets—conservatives and drunks much less so.

Will his next book be called The Republican Body? Will he suggest that Republicans not be allowed to drive after even one drink?

The populist Republican Party might as well accept the stings of Rolling Stone. It has chosen on several issues to say very simple things to be popular (think: climate change, the source of rising gasoline prices, the benefits of cutting people's taxes).

However, conservatism in the true sense of the word isn’t coming out of the mouths of those kids at that New England bar and it isn’t being measured by these political researchers/pollsters.

Historically, conservatism has always been too intellectual and never competitive with liberalism emotionally. Conservatives, ironically, have been very productive in this liberal age because they’ve been its greatest worriers.

Look back over the last fifty years and at many of the policies liberals champion—individual mandates, carbon taxes, guaranteed annual incomes, the indexation of pensions and income tax deductions, and détente. These ideas didn’t come from the guts, but the brains of conservative minds.

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