Learn to Love Conservatives

Progressives are focused on what’s wrong with society and how we can be better in the future. Conservatives see what is good and worth keeping in the past and present and wish to conserve it. Both are valuable and needed perspectives.

When arguing with conservatives, we like to turn what they think is good into something actually evil. When conservatives say “Make America great again”, we assume that this is code for: Make America racist/sexist again. And of course this is justified: when conservatives long back for the social order of the 50s, for example, we are of course right in pointing out that this order wasn’t a just one: that it was based in patriarchy and white supremacy.

But nevertheless we must also consider what was good about 50s social order. How people felt more like part of a community, less isolated, people trusted their neighbors more, etc. If we don’t make this step, we will keep talking in circles with conservatives; they feel the need to explain to us what was good about 50s social order and we feel the need to explain to them what was bad about it.

So both parties must come to an understanding of how 50s social order was simultaneously good and bad. That means we must carefully listen to each other before we try to argue our own point.

This in no way means that we should come to some sort of compromise with conservatives. We shouldn’t have to accept a little evil to conserve what’s good, or to get conservatives onboard with our initiatives. It means rather that we must carefully consider what was good, so as not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Otherwise we are stuck in a purely critical attitude, and we can’t come up with effective solutions that are more than just negations of current problems (Stop racism! End hunger! Ban fracking!).

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