Flipping the Script on Conservatives vs. the Left

Flipping the Script on Conservatives vs. the Left

Everyone knows that left-wing parties are made up of uncompromising idealists while
we tend to think of right wing people as realists.

Politics is changing though. It has changed a lot. A seismic shift has occurred and the
political establishment is scrambling to draw accurate maps of the new political
landscape.

One key difference between the Old Politics and the New is that the old folk wisdom
casting right-wingers as practical realists and left-wingers as naive idealists has
reversed itself. Savvy political operatives aside, those in established political bubbles
will take way too long to realize this dynamic has completely flipped, and they’ll be
shocked when they do.

An Idealist is someone who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations or
facts. A Realist is just the opposite. Let’s take a fun example of an issue where left-
wingers want to deal with an uncomfortable reality, while conservatives are being plain
old naive idealists, putting their principles ahead of the facts.

Here’s a grim reality: we are in the midst of a massive drug crisis.

The solution proposed from the left (and now supported by the smartest people on the
right) is the use of safe injection sites. I won’t get into the benefits and drawbacks of
this harm-reduction approach because the purpose of this post isn’t to convince you that
harm-reduction works (it does) but to show how conservatives get caught up in idealism
while left-wingers are trying to address a fact.

In response to calls for safe injection sites, conservatives argue that drug use is bad
and therefore we shouldn’t support it. Even though many on the left would probably
agree, the left understands something conservatives aren’t seeing through their rose-
coloured glasses.

The drug crisis is a fact, and one that is becoming a bigger and bigger problem, and
while allowing safe injection sites might be somewhat murky in terms of ethics, it is an
imperfect approach for an imperfect world.

There are many more examples of the left pushing imperfect solutions to uncomfortable
and inconvenient problems while the right cries foul.

Can you think of more examples of conservatives being idealists while the left are
grizzled realists?

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2 thoughts on “Flipping the Script on Conservatives vs. the Left”

  • Drug policy is the obvious one. Beyond that I’d probably include certain poverty-reduction measures like minimum wage increases and basic income (although I’ve heard more than a few conservative commentators speak favourably about the latter), but I’d be careful with characterizing it as a role-reversal. There’s a relatively thin but important line between common-sense proposals to begin addressing complex problems versus the utopian gibberish still most commonly associated with the left. For every red-meat conservative telling you to get off your junkie ass and get a job, there’s an equal number of simple-minded self-professed ‘progressives’ who think that the answer to social inequality is to scrap the military and tax innovators into oblivion. You know: those folks who can’t fathom why they haven’t landed that high-paying job after simply making it through their cookie-cutter education in the 50th percentile, and have come to the conclusion that it’s the employers who are to blame.

    In any case, the ‘dynamic’ as you put it, has certainly not flipped, not least because it was never more than a silly truism to begin with. There are idiots on all sides, just as there are rational thinkers. Unfortunately, the idiots have always outnumbered the rational thinkers, and in today’s age everyone has a podium to spew their nonsense from.

    I admire your stated goal of depolarization. I would love nothing more than for my social media feed and the comments sections of internet media outlets to be filled with hearty, civil debate. I just don’t think it’s plausible. Populism and polarization go hand-in-hand because they appeal to people’s base instincts in a way that civil discourse and nuances can never match. It’s a losing battle. Today’s attention spans require shorter, louder messages. The key to depolarization will be re-packaging the calm sensibility of “old-politics” in a way that makes it seem bolder and less like a parental lecture. In terms of how to actually accomplish that of course, your guess is as good as mine. Cross-partisanship is all well and good, but I’d wager that very few people will actually have the motivation to open themselves up in such an overt manner.

    • Thank you for this comment – these are good, well-fleshed out thoughts.
      Your blog (The Radical Centrist) is also fanstastic. Good work! As to your comment…

      “Fighting depolarization is a losing battle”

      You’re correct. It’s not a winnable battle. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
      The more people we can convince to try to do this with us the better the end-effect will be.

      “The key to depolarization will be re-packaging the calm sensibility of “old-politics” in a way that makes it seem bolder and less like a parental lecture”

      Absolutely true. That’s what makes the idea of Party-Swapping, Party Crashing, and/or cross-partisan activism so special;
      it’s a way to get people involved in traditional political systems in a way that’s non-traditional, couched in terms like “infiltration” and “disruption” and also a lot of fun.
      It’s definitely not for everyone, but it has a lot to offer to the country as a whole as well as to the individuals who bravely decide to go down this road.

      Again, really enjoyed your comment (and your blog), please feel free to get in touch anytime a.strong.canada@gmail.com

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