Conversations With Conservatives

CHRISTIAN_RIGHTBy: Astra Navigo

They number between 30 and 50 million in the U.S.

They are attorneys and laborers; janitors and CEOs; officers and enlisted personnel.   Some have advanced degrees; others are self-educated ‘sagebrush philosophers.’

All have one thing in common – they believe in God, America, and the values of Conservatism.

It’s not just God – but the God of Their Fathers; the God of the Old Testament.   The God of Abraham and Issac; Jesus and the Apostles.   To them, the Word of God is real, and is encompassed in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

They also believe in America – but it’s a version of America which is intertwined closely with religious belief – and in that nation, there’s no room for socialism, ‘liberal fascism’, pro-choice politics, or the ‘gay agenda’.    Many believe that the current administration is operating in a manner which will, by design, destroy their ability to function as citizens.  Still others believe their way of life – especially their religion – is under attack by liberals and others who support a decidedly anti-American worldview.

Demographically, they’re white – and although some minorities also self-identify as members, they are a distinct minority, making up only 2% of their number.

They speak English (almost 100%); they also believe everyone else should, too.

The majority are married; without exception, they are straight.

With few exceptions, they are all members of the Republican Party.   Most have voted a straight party-ticket since they could vote – and while the majority are now too young to have voted for Ronald Reagan, they all view The Gipper as a sort of demigod; The Man Who Started It All.

For three months, I asked, cajoled, begged, and generally made a pest of myself to over fifty people from all walks of life and from all parts of America.   The seven who responded to my questions and took the time to state their views and opinions are as varies as the American landscape.   Here, I’m going to attempt to make sense of what they told me, and open a view into a movement which many of us do not understand.

My overtures were rejected by most – and in many cases, unkindly.  “I got (sic) nothing to say to you libs”, said one man; a biker and veteran.   “If you don’t pray to God I got (sic) nothing to say to you.”

The few who shared their dreams, fears, views –and part of themselves – are quoted below.   All have been guaranteed anonymity; some were very clear on that point.

Each of them is an American.

America

“America is for American citizens.   I don’t like illegal immigrants.”   In asking for words which defined America, these were the first which I read.   Conservative America defines the nation not by values, but by the makeup of its residents – and they are not favorably inclined to outsiders.   “Soon, Islam will be the majority religion”, said another.

The more moderate Conservatives were quick to define America as a set of values. “American values are about family and honesty, fairness and freedom. Freedom to love, work and play as you choose.”

Others were even more blunt. “America was founded as a Christian nation.   We’ve lost a lot of that and I don’t see us doing any better under Obama.”

Economics are a huge concern.   This is translated into jobs, which to the American Right is about immigration, and job-export.   “They give (sic) our jobs to the Mexicans and want to give em (sic) health care too”, observed one respondent.   Increasingly, foreign workers are blamed for many of the nation’s ills.

Asked how to solve the problem, and the response was vague commentary about ‘socialism’ plus a lack of ‘genuine leadership’.   High on the list is military service – three of the people to whom I spoke wanted a military man as the next President.  “McCain woulda kicked ass in Iraq”, stated one person.   “I prefer men as my President, as men who have had many yrs (sic) working in the system and even having military experience. After all how can you know how to defend this country if you haven’t been in the system or are familiar with how it works,” said another.

savejesusforher-e

God, America, and the Christian Nation

Through the entire discussion, the concept of God wasn’t far from the surface. “America is a Christian nation”, said one.  “Anyone who doesn’t like that should leave.”   Those who believe this precept point to several things from our past – the Ten Commandments on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court; the many anecdotal statements from early American political leaders, and their own upbringing.

Many view America’s current malaise as ‘God’s judgment’.   “We’d be better off if Godly men were in charge of America”, said a man who describes himself as ‘just one of America’s working class.’   “We’ve abandoned God, and see where it got us.”

Others are more moderate.  “That doesn’t mean Christianity necessarily, just Godly principals. And since most of those come from the Bible, it is seen as Christian”, said one woman.

The common thread is one of genuine fear – fear that God will judge America for its ‘sinful ways’ (among those being support of Roe v. Wade, gay marriage, and the new catchall, ‘socialism’).

Abortion rights and gay marriage is a huge issue, and prompts responses from extreme to almost-liberal.   “Abortion is mass-murder.   God will judge America for giving in to the atheists and others who made this possible”, said one man.   “I don’t really like abortion itself,  but I do feel it has a place and nobody should decide that for another”, replied a woman whose beliefs on the matter were the most-liberal of the Conservatives polled.   “Marriage is between a man and a woman, period.  There’s no need to sanctify gay marriage”, said one respondent, flatly.   Even the more-moderate Conservatives appear united on this issue – “No one keeps gay folks from living together or loving each other so I don’t see the need for them having marriage.”

Unlike the responses to ‘hard’ problems facing us, the Conservatives I interviewed were far more black-and-white regarding social issues – they view these largely through a lens created by the twin influences of family and religion.

Obama and the Progressive Revolution

One thing is sure to unite the most moderate and the most Conservative of the right-wing/Fundamentalists which I interviewed – the issue of the current administration.

“He’s a socialist.  I don’t believe he’s even a citizen”, said one man, who echoed the majority opinion.   Even the most moderate of my respondents said “I do not believe he is natural born and a native. I didn’t like him before or while he was running. There was something to me that just didn’t feel right. He came from nowhere. And as far as I’m concerned (he) really didn’t have the qualifications to be President.”

Continuing, the same respondent said, “…you look into his life (and) there’s alot (sic) of holes. There are questions of him (sic) going to school in Indonesia at a time when to do so meant you became a citizen of that country.”

“Obama’s not legitimate”, summed up another.

To the Conservatives, the idea of a ‘Progressive Revolution’ was dead before it started.   In their mind, the timeclock started when Obama was elected, and will wind down on election day in 2012, where – if they have their way – they’ll ‘take their country back’.

Back To The Future

“Back to where?” is the question most moderates, Democrats and other Progressives ask when they hear the term ‘take the country back’.   Several people used terms like ‘usurp’; ‘Liberal coup’; and ‘illegitimate government.’    Most do not view the Obama administration as more than a four-year aberration  – a blip on the screen – between the last conservative president and the next one.   Depending on the person, ‘taking the country back’ is either an active verb implying wresting control from one they view as a temporary – and illegitimate – occupier of the role of president, or a timeline-based term, referencing taking the nation back to a time when (ostensibly) genuine ‘American values’ were practiced by the majority and the nation was in far better shape.

This linkage to the state of the nation and its values – combined with a fair bit of nostalgia – is another common thread of far-right American Conservatism as it’s practiced today.

The Constitution, Freedom, Death, and TaxesConservative

The people I interviewed showed a shocking lack of knowledge about the basic document framing the country.  Most believed that American liberals had destroyed the Constitution with their attempt to create a national healthcare system (“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say we got (sic) a healthcare system”); several believed that Christianity was the state religion (“We strayed from Christianity that’s why the Constitution don’t (sic) work”); others believed that basic rights – save for the Second Amendment right to own firearms – should be regulated (“Any freedom can go to the extreme”, said one woman in regard to the First Amendment right to free speech).

Fewer still can define the American guarantee of freedom.  “Freedom is freedom but everyone is entitled to their own choice”; said one person.   Others drew their notions from the romanticized ideals of their grandparents (“I’m free to do any damn thing I want.”)

Still others believed that America had a national language (we don’t); – and a national mandate to deport anyone who doesn’t learn it.

Universally, taxes are too high, and the blame is to be placed squarely on the liberals and Democrats for this.   In fact, the responses here were so similar that they appeared to have been rehearsed.   Taxation, to hear them talk, is a universal evil, and should be reserved for things like the military (military spending was high on their list of ‘values’), and not for things like welfare (“…anyone who wants a job in America can get one.   That’s where they should get their health care”, said one person).

Immigration

Immigration should be either stopped or slowed to a trickle, and should come from countries which share our ‘values’.   “You do not come here, demand the country change to fit you and demand to have things that even many of its citizens cannot or don’t qualify for (sic).”    Entitlement is a recurring theme with Conservatives – many of them fill some of the lowest rungs of the economic ladder; they view illegal immigrants as taking jobs which could be filled by ‘real Americans’   Providing immigrants – especially illegals – with anything past a ticket home is too much.

Most are fond of quoting ‘statistics’ from Conservative blogs and other related websites (World Net Daily is a favorite) which double the actual number of illegals in the U.S., reduce the actual number of uninsured Americans and disproportionately attribute crime to the immigrant community.

The White Man’s Burden – America; War; and the Middle East

The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not just police-actions to clear out terrorists and stabilize the region – they are literal holy-wars.   One respondent paraphrased Ann Coulter – “We should kill ‘em all and convert whoever’s left to Christianity”.   Several were in favor of using theatre-grade (multi-megaton) nuclear weapons (“My own personal view is drop the bomb…in my mind I believe that’s the only way to stop all this nonsense now – because it’s out of control”, said one woman.)

Christianity and the military are linked inextricably in the minds of most Conservatives.   When Bush said ‘God told me to (invade Iraq)’, he had a legion of men and women in the military with Conservative values to help him fulfill his divinely-inspired mission.   “If your (sic) against the army, your (sic) against God”, said one man.   “This is a religious war.  If we lose, Christianity loses, and the world will become islam (sic).”

The concepts of church/state separation – or of a non-religious, non-political military –  do not apply in the worldview of the American far-right Conservative.  To them, Iraq was not about WMD’s, and Afghanistan was not about AlQaeda; both were – and are – about eliminating the threat of a religion they perceive as evil, destructive, and competitive with their own.

The Social Construct – and Parting Thoughts

By and large, America’s far-right Conservatives are insular.   They began educating their own children in earnest about thirty years ago, and my responses echoed this.   “I wouldn’t send my kids to a state run school”, said one man.  His reasons?  “…they’re too damn libral (sic).”   Religious-based education is a priority for most Conservatives.   “Atheists run the schools”, said one respondent flatly.

Information is also insular.   While one woman said she “gather(s) (her) info from all over and make(s) up (her) own mind”, she also was quick to say, “I rarely watch tv and when I do I’ll watch Glenn Beck and others.”   Fox News is a mantra to most.  “I watch Fox”, said one man. “The rest of the media is liberal.”    Websites are a favorite, also – and they’re not shy about rejecting what they view as a ‘liberal slant’ on the news.   World Net Daily is, as mentioned earlier, a favorite (mentioned four times from my respondents).

This insular Conservative society, devoid of other points of view, pluralism, or other exposure has created a polarized nation – but most Conservatives don’t see it as such.  “What I don’t like is the disrespect that’s going around out there online and in the media. It’s getting ugly out there”, said one woman.   Nowhere in my responses did I see anyone taking any responsibility for the polarization, or making efforts to communicate with or understand people with opposing viewpoints.

Conservatives view the concept of social conscience with mistrust.  “I don’t agree with this sharing the wealth thing. It doesn’t work. We have seen that with other countries who (sic) have done it.”   Words like ‘socialism’ and ‘Communism’ are tossed about like badminton-shuttlecocks.  “I don’t like welfare, and the liberals who promote it”, said another.   The idea of government-based welfare is anathema.  “The government is not here to take care of us, that’s our job and if we can’t do it, its (sic) our families (sic) job to help.”   In their worldview, the Church as a collective body should be permitted government funds to operate charities.   In this, former President Bush’s ‘faith-based initiatives’ were, in their mind, a stroke of genius.

I’ve deliberately not drawn any conclusions from these statements, save for the most-obvious; while some of the viewpoints expressed here by my anonymous respondents are, to the eyes and ears of many, extreme, I’ve also refrained from commentary.

The people who responded are all Americans.   Some show the glimmers of leadership which might make for a second Great Generation.   Their effort – and views – will be crucial in shaping an America with something we all want – a future.

About astranavigo

Astra is one of the clever monkeys occupying space on the Third Planet From The Sun. While it was an early wish of Astra's to be one of the first to go to Proxima Centauri, he knows this is not to be; instead, you can find him here (some of the time) using simple tools to create communication. Holding up a mirror and saying 'Looky! Mistofer Emperor! Y'ain't wearin' no clothes!" is but one of the services he provides here. Others are subverting prevailing wisdom, peeing in people's Cheerios, trashing on their Imaginary Friends (he does this a lot,) and shifting paradigms without benefit of a clutch. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he'll never have to learn the true meaning of some of his dystopian fiction.

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29 Comments on “Conversations With Conservatives”

  1. 10 years ago I would have looked at a 14% response rate and snickered. Since then several studies have shown fractional response rates in the 20 to 30 percent range indistinguishable from 60 to 70% rates so I won’t go into a tirade on sampling adequacy, however you are a little low on this one.

    I’m curious how you selected the survey participants?

    Scott.

  2. Scott, the really sad thing isn’t the number of participants – it’s the reasons why.

    What I learned was that the far right is so culturally insular that they won’t discuss their beliefs or views – let alone dreams, fears, and other abstracts – with anyone.

    I got a lot of ‘fuck-off-and-die’ responses – as well as a few ‘I’ll-respectfully-decline’ responses, as well.

    Absent dialogue, I really don’t know how we’re going to get out of the mess we’re in – but that’s not germane to your question.

    I have a lot of online-acquaintances. Several of them are what could be termed far-right Christian Conservatives or ‘Fundies’. I used their contacts to sample fifty-odd respondents, who were directed to a website where they could complete a questionnaire regarding their views and opinions on political and social issues.

    I’d like to have had 100+ – but it just wasn’t possible.

    –Will (“Astra”)

  3. “I have a lot of online-acquaintances. Several of them are what could be termed far-right Christian Conservatives or ‘Fundies’.”

    I’ll wager you hit a wall because your opinions are widely known. Had you represented yourself as something benign (a Pew Survey, etc.) you may have gotten a better fractional response.

    You’ll note that the photo of Sarah Palin that recently appeared on the cover of Newsweek was actually purchased from Runner’s World. Somehow I don’t think she wanted to talk to Newsweek.

  4. As split as people are about the variety of issues that have surfaced in recent years, a twenty percent solid representative voice is significant. Add moderate conservatives who might agree on some things, but not on others, Constitutional rights advocates who are anxious that we’re stepping deeper into a totalitarian dictatorship and will support any strong voiced opposition, and the quick fix-it mentality that wants an immediate end to all problems, and you have a very large segment of society who could be persuaded to follow an appeal based on our Christian service to God. The motivation might not have anything at all to do with a belief that we are at God’s right hand, but simply a desperate grasp on that manifesto that has declared Americans number one, their government the wisest and best, their people infallible. Time has told on us. Our industrial nation has grown fat and lazy from its prolonged prosperity. We hold on to formulas that worked in the past but that aren’t working now. We’ve lost the imagination, the drive and the leadership to move forward. Until we finally grasp a new ideal of leadership, we’ll keep falling down in the same old mire of exploitation, greed and the waging of illicit war.

  5. “Until we finally grasp a new ideal of leadership, we’ll keep falling down in the same old mire of exploitation, greed and the waging of illicit war.”

    That’s a bleak view, Karla – but it’s one I happen to agree with.

  6. chilling, but not unexpected … Americans who know no history of America …. America was founded by businessmen who stole the land and killed of the native peoples and used the name of God and christianity, without believing in either … I enjoyed reading this, thanks for the research ..

  7. Much work went into this piece, and while I don’t cultivate or give credence to the right wing “Christian Conservatives”, I am glad that you do. I would expect the same responses that you received from those whom I consider ignorant, but I know we ignore them at our own peril.

  8. “All have one thing in common – they believe in God, America, and the values of Conservatism.”
    Well actually I would have to rephrase that. We certainly believe in
    God ( at least the majority of people in the United States do, somewhere between 85% to 95%), we love America, we call ourselves
    conservative(nevermind the fact that I’m a Democrat all of my adult life), but most importantly we love the Constitution of the United States, and the Holy Bible which has given us our traditional
    American Values. We love life and value every human being which is why we hate the pro-death stance. And which is why we take the pro-capital punishment stance when it comes to terrorism, rape, and murder.
    We place particular emphasis on the First and Second Amendments. We deem it an extreme violation of the First Amendment when someone says that we are not allowed to pray out loud in a class room, or a public venue because we might “offend” someone. Never mind the fact that we are not only being denied our First Amendment rights but that we are extremely offended.
    We don’t like the idea of “gun control” because the only people who obey gun control laws (at least 19,000 laws on the books at the present time), are people who obey the law. Switzerland, where every single able bodied male under the age of 50 has an assault rifle in his closet, has the lowest crime rate on the planet. In Israel, where men often carry assault rifles to and fro, has a far lower crime rate than any major city in the USA.
    And btw, Fox News is not conservative. They are just a tad bit less
    liberal than the other notable media such as CBS, ABC, and the one to the most left, NBC. Hopefully this gives you a little “food for thought”
    I Cr 13:8a, Love Never Fails !!

  9. I would not call your article a summary of a survey. Far from it in fact. You didn’t have a listing of the questions asked nor a percentage chart or verbatim answer chart of each response. Additionally your heavy use of (sic) shows an elitist and snobish disregard for the different dialects throughout our country. Obviously responses were verbal so you decided to write what you thought you heard. Quite honestly I thought senator(sic) Kennedy often sounded like an uneducated moron with his Massachusetts’ accent & pronunciations and the two fence splitters from Maine certainly are laughable @ times also. But an intelligent journalist shouldn’t have to stoop to such asinine low levels to belittle an opposing side. Even when it is an obvious opinion piece.
    Additionally it is quite obvious that while u mention the diversity in the conservative ranks, you centered your survey on what I would call the followers. Just like their are followers in the Progressive movement. I’m sure you would not want one of our better bloggers to go to the inner city and survey the bulk of your voters to state the official positions of barack obama & your philosophies! Your article is very reminiscent of something DANIEL GROSS of NEWSWEEK would write. He often a) writes articles on subjects (in your case knowing what really is behind the Conservatives dissatisfaction with the direction our country is heading) often he hides his true intentions behind a Headline that is eceiving, and the whole article is disguised as joirnalism but is actually words surrounding the one or two “digs” he intends to throw. Nine times out of ten he too throws his digs at the old Bush Administration, Ronald Reagan,& the damage he caused, or the ignorance of the people who lean conservatively(which is over 50% of Americans.
    Now for my main argument against your Liberal Progressive agenda. No matter what you may think, the 10th Amendment(part of The Bill of Rights) says that the federal government CANNOT create laws or EMPOWER itself in anyway not expressly stated in this Constitution! And then there is the 9th Amendment reserving almost ALL the powers to govern the people to the states. Its pretty clear! For instance, nowhere do I see where the Federal Government can MANDATE that trans fat be taken out of the oil that my McDonalds French Fries are cooked in!!!! Nor does it SAY the Federal Government can tell my children that they cannot go to the school down the block! But instead have to be bussed to a school 45minutes away!
    Basically it says the Federal Government is to a)Sign treaties & agreements of trade /w other governments. B)Provide a defense against foreign invasions & acts of war(build a military) &C)Protect our borders! Along with the other insuring the provisions of the other specific directives in the Constitution.
    But seeing as how I’m only a blue collar ignorant Long Haul Truck Driver(who just happens to have a 5yr college degree) I will leave the more specific Constitutional rhetoric to others. Thank you for your time!

  10. Gabriel:

    I made it pretty clear in the article that the participants were guaranteed anonymity.

    The process was as follows:

    (1) Over fifty people were contacted, mainly from two social-networks to which I belong and a couple of online-group. I received a lot of hostility, although my request was neutral and, again, promised complete anonymity as well as complete accuracy-of-quotation. I suggested that each respondent check both grammar and spelling as a result.

    (2) The questions were posted on a separate site with a comments section to cut, paste, and answer.

    (3) The results were collated and representative samples used for quotations. If anything, I erred on the more-liberal side!

    Your comment, “Additionally your heavy use of (sic) shows an elitist and snobish disregard for the different dialects throughout our country.” – is not only poorly-reasoned, but wrong.

    First, as mentioned, I promised absolute accuracy in quotation – I made it clear that I wasn’t about to clean up anyone’s grammar, syntax, or spelling — and that what I had would be quoted, exactly. Secondly – ‘dialect’ has nothing to do with grammatical or spelling errors – your ‘5 year college degree’ should have taught you that, if nothing else.

    Third — there are two ‘b’s’ in ‘snobbish’. Yes – your comment would have earned a ‘(sic)’ as well – because I would have quoted you exactly, whether or not you could use a spell checker or passed eighth-grade spelling.

    Gabriel, if anything, while I wish you’d’ve been part of the process for this article, you’ve also gone ahead and proven its thesis — the Right has a shocking disregard for anyone else; a lack of intelligence and education which is weighing on the entire country, and an equally-frightening lack of knowledge of the basic documents which frame the nation’s being.

    Thanks for your commentary!

    –Will (“Astra”)

    P.S.: You put me in good company with your Daniel Gross comparative….

  11. Johnny:

    Some corrections:

    1. 85-90% of Americans ‘believing in god’ is high. There are 35,000,000 Americans who self-identify as either ‘nonbelievers’ or ‘atheists’.

    2. No one has told you that you can’t pray in a classroom. Teachers might, and districts might, restrict the use of prayer ‘out loud’ – because it’s a disruption. You can pray out loud in any venue in America. That’s not against the law. What you can’t do is make it the law that people have to pray, to your ‘god’ or anyone else’s.

    3. To say that Israel has a ‘low crime rate’ is to beg a lot of questions outside the purview of this article – but your comment, to say the least, just isn’t true.

    4. I was hoping someone would weigh-in on the death penalty vs. ‘pro-life’ dichotomy. If you feel like doing so, I’d be interested in hearing how abortion is wrong and killing a living, breathing human being ‘in the name of the people’ is somehow right.

    Cheers!

    -Will (“Astra”)

  12. Coming from a socially conservative family I’d say that this article reflects their views and opinions pretty well – the majority of self-identified conservatives I have known in my life believe that taking “god” out of schools is directly responsible for many social ills we face; they are offended when people of other opinions express their views (particularly on issues they find contraversial); they *hate* being corrected and lump the people that do attempt to correct their errors into catch-all groups like “Socialist” or “Communist” (never mind that most of them never Marx, hence they have no idea what being a Socialist or Communist entails); they are strongly anti-tax and pro-gun (the only values they possess that I actually *share* with them anymore, BTW) and they get almost all of their information from Fox News, talk radio and whatever conservative blogs are popular in their local socail circle (essentially living in a bubble in which other views seldom – if ever – are heard or taken seriously when they are expressed).

    While I would have like to have seen a higher level of participation in your survey (as not all conservatives match the profile and it would have been interesting to see some that don’t fit the stereotype) I can certainly understand why it was so low – as many (if not most) conservatives are reluctant to express their views to people who might not share them due to something of a “persecution complex” they have (there is a tendency amongst them to see everyone who isn’t in lock-step with their values as an enemy seeking to destroy them).

  13. Actual Conversation With a Birther

    This old friend from Galveston contacted me on IM. We started talking about Windows and computers, then the subject moved into politics. I changed his name to name_withheld for obvious reasons, but that is the only thing I changed. Here is how the discussion went:

    name_withheld (9:46:07 PM): I just love what washinton has given us all
    name_withheld (9:46:13 PM): a 170k bill
    name_withheld (9:46:31 PM): due to all the money they gave away
    caljen1701@att.net (9:46:58 PM): Money to the banks, money to the corporations, and so far nothing to the people.
    name_withheld (9:47:08 PM): nope and never will eather
    name_withheld (9:47:25 PM): I dont care what party is in charge they pay back their buddies
    caljen1701@att.net (9:47:35 PM): They were trying to give us health care, but the dummies raised hell about it.
    name_withheld (9:47:39 PM): but OBOMA needs to be removed
    name_withheld (9:47:47 PM): he is not a ligit amreican
    name_withheld (9:47:55 PM): born in kinya
    caljen1701@att.net (9:47:58 PM): Yes, he is, actually.
    name_withheld (9:48:05 PM): NO he isnt
    name_withheld (9:48:14 PM): I have a 1961 birth cert
    caljen1701@att.net (9:48:17 PM): Those stories were disproven. His birth certificate is legit.
    name_withheld (9:48:27 PM): and all where uniform in the 1950-1968
    name_withheld (9:48:42 PM): they only shown a copy
    name_withheld (9:48:49 PM): never the origanal
    caljen1701@att.net (9:49:08 PM): Have you ever lost your birth certificate and had to get a new copy?
    name_withheld (9:49:18 PM): nope never lost that
    caljen1701@att.net (9:49:25 PM): I have. Twice.
    name_withheld (9:50:01 PM): why did his grangmother on his dads side say she witnessed his birth along with the women of his town in kinya?
    caljen1701@att.net (9:50:41 PM): I don’t know. I wonder how much money they were offered?
    name_withheld (9:51:13 PM): well I will beleave a 90yo lady over any politison
    caljen1701@att.net (9:52:02 PM): Well, you may as well give up hoping on that one because that issue has already been through congress.
    name_withheld (9:52:11 PM): nope
    name_withheld (9:52:19 PM): they just spwep ti under the rug
    name_withheld (9:52:53 PM): basicly they dont care what so ever about the laws they just rewrite them to their likings
    caljen1701@att.net (9:53:11 PM): http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp
    name_withheld (9:53:17 PM): oboma has tax cheats in the whitehouse in charge
    name_withheld (9:53:26 PM): nothign like lettign the fox into the hen house
    caljen1701@att.net (9:53:50 PM): Bush and Cheney didn’t?
    name_withheld (9:54:13 PM): that link did not show a 1961 birth cert
    caljen1701@att.net (9:54:35 PM): http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-27-obama-hawaii_N.htm
    name_withheld (9:54:47 PM): he clambed he had his original birthcert
    caljen1701@att.net (9:55:14 PM): Who said he claimed that?
    name_withheld (9:55:36 PM): he did in a speech when asked about it, he ssaid that he had it in a safe
    name_withheld (9:55:51 PM): is it so hard to show it?
    name_withheld (9:56:31 PM): he showed a copy of a it, but nothign with the DR sig on it
    name_withheld (9:56:50 PM): the copy is a 1991 requested copy
    caljen1701@att.net (9:56:54 PM): Face it. You’re just a sore loser.
    name_withheld (9:57:05 PM): for someone that has the origanal why did he need a copy?
    name_withheld (9:57:22 PM): no I am not going ot let a aferican take over this conuntry
    name_withheld (9:57:36 PM): the guy is a sleez bag
    caljen1701@att.net (9:57:45 PM): No more than Bush and Cheney.
    name_withheld (9:57:51 PM): he kisss the asses of our enimanies
    name_withheld (9:58:01 PM): they did not bow to a king
    caljen1701@att.net (9:58:11 PM): We shouldn’t have attacked Iraq in the first place.
    name_withheld (9:58:22 PM): we shoudl have nuked them first
    caljen1701@att.net (9:58:24 PM): It’s nice to see SOMEONE showing others some respect.
    name_withheld (9:58:39 PM): we stoped bowing when we became a natiion
    name_withheld (9:58:45 PM): if you look up edicate
    caljen1701@att.net (9:58:48 PM): Yeah, then we would have been nuked, then the whole earth would be radioactive and there would be no place to live.
    name_withheld (9:58:58 PM): a PRESADENT DOES NOT bow to ANY peader
    name_withheld (9:59:04 PM): leader
    name_withheld (9:59:20 PM): he fired the whoel staff that was to keep the rules in order
    name_withheld (9:59:53 PM): O Hso letting norht korian and Iran have nuke is a good thing?
    caljen1701@att.net (9:59:56 PM): Do yu want everyone on earth to be walking around like these people?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:00:00 PM): http://images.google.com/images?rlz=1C1DVCC_enUS353US353&sourceid=chrome&q=hiroshima+after+effects+pictures&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=bSAfS9LzGIjRngfltdTWDQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBAQsAQwAA
    name_withheld (10:00:10 PM): I am glad we nuked them too
    name_withheld (10:00:15 PM): it stopped the war
    caljen1701@att.net (10:00:29 PM): It just pushed it in an economic direction.
    name_withheld (10:00:30 PM): they are the ones that attacked us
    caljen1701@att.net (10:00:53 PM): Yes, but we knew they were going to attack Pearl Harbor before hand.
    name_withheld (10:01:19 PM): nope
    caljen1701@att.net (10:01:23 PM): They let it happen so that they could get the American people behind going into the world war.
    name_withheld (10:01:25 PM): just knew it was in the pasific
    name_withheld (10:01:46 PM): and they only gave a 30 min warning
    caljen1701@att.net (10:01:58 PM): My late best friend’s dad was one of the cryptographers.
    name_withheld (10:02:15 PM): I seen the docs that shwo a time from the tele type
    name_withheld (10:02:49 PM): it was sent to the jap embasicy the night before and was not delivorded until 30 min befor the attact
    name_withheld (10:03:08 PM): soz bout the typing
    name_withheld (10:03:18 PM): I am touch typing in the dark
    name_withheld (10:03:30 PM): moni is sleeping
    caljen1701@att.net (10:03:59 PM): They sent the air craft carrier out on maneuvers so it wouldn’t be destroyed.
    name_withheld (10:05:17 PM): well they need to nuke the border between afgan and packastan to stop oboma and tell them ok who is next
    name_withheld (10:05:26 PM): but we havw a pussy for a pres
    name_withheld (10:05:40 PM): he would rather kiss ass than do what is needed
    caljen1701@att.net (10:05:47 PM): I’d rather have a pussy than an asshole who can’t reason.
    name_withheld (10:06:06 PM): ya all the mosulms
    name_withheld (10:06:20 PM): if they want ot blow each othe rup I say help them
    caljen1701@att.net (10:06:59 PM): They’ve been fighting since time began and they’re not going to stop because we want them to. We were stupid to go in there in the first place.
    name_withheld (10:07:06 PM): I know
    name_withheld (10:07:09 PM): time ot stop the fight
    name_withheld (10:07:13 PM): nuke them all
    name_withheld (10:07:19 PM): let them go to alha
    caljen1701@att.net (10:07:45 PM): Who died and named us God?
    name_withheld (10:07:54 PM): Jesus did
    name_withheld (10:08:16 PM): Jesus died so we can all be sons of GOD
    caljen1701@att.net (10:09:01 PM): Sons of God would act like Christ.
    name_withheld (10:09:19 PM): yes jesus also dumped the table too
    caljen1701@att.net (10:09:55 PM): He overturned the tables of the moneychangers.
    name_withheld (10:10:09 PM): I say take all the leaders of the muslam father and have them stand in a room and the last one htat leaves alive wins
    caljen1701@att.net (10:10:32 PM): If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
    name_withheld (10:11:01 PM): but also no one said you have to jsut stand and take it eather
    caljen1701@att.net (10:11:36 PM): Matthew 5:38-40 (New International Version)

    An Eye for an Eye

    38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
    caljen1701@att.net (10:12:02 PM): He didn’t say “Smite thy enemies.”
    name_withheld (10:12:08 PM): I know the bible, but you cant offer a hand up to aperson who is pullin goyu down
    name_withheld (10:12:27 PM): I said cut off their hand before they pull you down too
    name_withheld (10:13:01 PM): hey I can live in peace as long as you dont for it on me
    name_withheld (10:13:13 PM): but it has to be a 2 way street
    caljen1701@att.net (10:13:42 PM): If our corporations weren’t over there making their lives miserable, they wouldn’t have attacked us in the first place.
    name_withheld (10:14:02 PM): OH yes we are just forcing htem to take our teck
    name_withheld (10:14:24 PM): we went over ther to beging them out of the dark ages
    name_withheld (10:14:48 PM): we offer them running water and medical and stuck and we get bombed
    caljen1701@att.net (10:14:51 PM): If they were more powerful than us and they were over here forcing their ideology on us, don’t you think we’d take whatever measures we could to stop them?
    name_withheld (10:15:06 PM): not with oboma
    name_withheld (10:15:22 PM): he is just opening the door and telling them please come in and kill us
    name_withheld (10:15:26 PM): we want ot be friends
    name_withheld (10:15:56 PM): they guy is a total idiot
    caljen1701@att.net (10:16:23 PM): Halliburton was using their women as prostitutes.
    caljen1701@att.net (10:16:27 PM): http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/02/party-house-pro/
    name_withheld (10:16:36 PM): OH YA sure they did
    name_withheld (10:16:51 PM): the men sold them
    name_withheld (10:17:33 PM): ya they really look distressed
    caljen1701@att.net (10:17:45 PM): You have your mind made up. It’s probably not going to do me much good to talk to you.
    name_withheld (10:18:30 PM): well when his original birth cert is show to a live tv an dit looks exactly like my 1961 I will kiss his ass in time square
    name_withheld (10:19:02 PM): ther was only 1 type of birth cert made back in that time frame
    name_withheld (10:19:19 PM): I can get you 1,000’s of ppl with the same type
    name_withheld (10:19:39 PM): he clambed he had his origanal, p[rove it
    name_withheld (10:20:06 PM): like I was alsways told
    name_withheld (10:20:11 PM): put up or shut up
    caljen1701@att.net (10:20:43 PM): Prove to me that you’re your father’s child.
    name_withheld (10:20:55 PM): dna
    caljen1701@att.net (10:21:15 PM): What if your father’s brother or cousin slept with her?
    name_withheld (10:21:18 PM): and I have birth photos that look exacly alike
    name_withheld (10:21:42 PM): no brothers
    caljen1701@att.net (10:21:52 PM): http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html
    name_withheld (10:22:19 PM): ya send me to a goverment web site
    caljen1701@att.net (10:22:39 PM): It’s factcheck.org.
    name_withheld (10:22:52 PM): owned by the usgovernment
    name_withheld (10:22:58 PM): did you look a the date on they
    name_withheld (10:23:00 PM): 2007
    name_withheld (10:23:20 PM): that is not a 1961 birthcert
    caljen1701@att.net (10:24:04 PM): Download the jpgs of the original.
    name_withheld (10:24:19 PM): lol
    name_withheld (10:24:23 PM): it dont exist
    name_withheld (10:25:36 PM): like I said that is a copy of a 2007 NOT 1961
    caljen1701@att.net (10:25:56 PM): Take it up with the hospital in Hawaii.
    name_withheld (10:26:21 PM): nope I am takin git up with his ass
    name_withheld (10:26:33 PM): he is a lier and nothgin but hte origanal will change my mind
    name_withheld (10:26:56 PM): he is a forner in the white house and needs to be removed
    caljen1701@att.net (10:26:57 PM): Why don’t the two of you settle it man to man on the White House lawn?
    name_withheld (10:27:08 PM): yes sounds good to me
    name_withheld (10:27:15 PM): I iwll bring my 1961 birth cert
    name_withheld (10:27:19 PM): and he brings his
    name_withheld (10:27:25 PM): I amn up fo rit
    name_withheld (10:27:28 PM): is he?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:27:37 PM): Why don’t you ask him.
    name_withheld (10:27:41 PM): I did
    name_withheld (10:27:46 PM): and never got an answer
    name_withheld (10:27:52 PM): so they have somethign to hide
    name_withheld (10:28:11 PM): is it so hard to open up the safe with a camrea crew there?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:28:12 PM): Probably because so many crazies are screaming about it that he didn’t get to your letter.
    name_withheld (10:28:47 PM): they guy is a proven lier
    name_withheld (10:29:02 PM): he is a socialist
    name_withheld (10:29:47 PM): he is a greeny weenie and is lettin ghe UN dictate to us how ot live
    name_withheld (10:30:04 PM): even though the global warming is proven false
    caljen1701@att.net (10:30:26 PM): Bush was a bully and couldn’t even let the U.N. finish the search before he attacked the wrong country.
    name_withheld (10:30:34 PM): they want us to go back ot the dark ages
    caljen1701@att.net (10:30:54 PM): They probably just want us to get the hell out of their country.
    name_withheld (10:31:08 PM): OH so the 500,00 ppl that sudely died of nurve gas happend naturaly?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:31:30 PM): Is that really our concern?
    name_withheld (10:31:46 PM): oh so lettign them kill women and childern is ok now?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:32:10 PM): We killed more of Hussein’s people than that and we are the ones who put Hussein in power.
    name_withheld (10:32:41 PM): I sai dkill them all and shut the door on the way out
    name_withheld (10:33:05 PM): start at tyhe border and bomb anythgin that moves
    caljen1701@att.net (10:33:21 PM): Well, maybe that asteroid will finally get here and wipe us all out and God can sort us out then.
    name_withheld (10:34:01 PM): he if you want to to die be my guest
    name_withheld (10:34:05 PM): I for one
    name_withheld (10:34:23 PM): say leave me alone an ddont hurt anyone else and no one will kill you
    caljen1701@att.net (10:34:49 PM): Well, we were in their country causing trouble first.
    name_withheld (10:36:14 PM): we left an area and did you see whatr happened?
    name_withheld (10:36:22 PM): the blew up 118 ppl
    name_withheld (10:36:57 PM): and their leader said they need 15 years of us there so they can try and take over
    caljen1701@att.net (10:41:55 PM): http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jun/27/obamas-birth-certificate-part-ii/
    name_withheld (10:43:46 PM): again it is the 2007 copy
    name_withheld (10:43:52 PM): no the 1961 origanal
    caljen1701@att.net (10:44:40 PM): Alright. It’s a copy.
    name_withheld (10:44:51 PM): show the origanal
    name_withheld (10:45:07 PM): he shows his marrage certy
    name_withheld (10:45:33 PM): and his wife showed hers
    name_withheld (10:45:42 PM): why cant he who his?
    caljen1701@att.net (10:46:02 PM): I’m through talking about this.
    caljen1701@att.net (10:46:17 PM): I have to run finish helping my mom decorate the tree.
    name_withheld (10:46:23 PM): ok
    name_withheld (10:46:28 PM): take care
    caljen1701@att.net (10:46:33 PM): You too.

  14. As I told you I would do, I have offered your article to read to a number of my conservative friends in the USA. They all told me they consider themselves conservative, so I had the right “target group”.

    Their first response to your article was not so much shock but astonishment. As one respondent said: “How anyone could talk with only seven individuals and then write a article meant to be sweeping in scope is beyond me.”
    The general opinion was that this article did not paint a true picture of Christian conservatism in the USA.

    One of the respondents stated: “This article APPEARS to be suggesting that this is what conservative Christians think…however, Christianity doesn’t equal conservatism, and conservatism doesn’t equal American Right. However, it seems that he has them all lumped together, and then gives you a survey of their views.”

    She goes on to say: “The views I read are the views that come from ignorant people who are usually of the older generation – if I’ve ever heard any comments like that, they are usually from people who could have been Reagan’s parents.
    (…)American children are educated very heavily in our schools to not hold the attitudes that Will represented in his article….at least in this state.”

    Another respondent wrote: “Most conservative Christians certainly wouldn’t use profanity…..and that indicates a possible lack of credibility. It sounds as if he interviewed people ABOUT conservative Christians. There are many who WOULD use profanity when speaking about conservatives.”

    Through their comments it was obvious that they, as I do, agreed with a number of views stated in your article. But, as one of the respondents wrote: “I fall into the category of conservative Christian by most standards. While there are a few of the opinions he attributes to conservative Christians that I “agree” with, I do not fit the mold he tries to shove conservative Christians into. He wraps bigots and Christians into one big package, a very irresponsible and lazy tactic.”
    All others wrote statements like this in their comments.

    As for the separate issues you mentioned, one respondent commented especially on the one about the English language. She wrote:
    “Where does he get his fact that most conservative Christians think everyone should speak English? The lack of language instruction in America is indeed troubling,I agree, but I don’t think liberals feel any differently. And…..for that matter, the international language is English, isn’t it? In China, every single school child is required to study English………..so, I am not sure what his point is on this.”

    As expected, their view on your article was not positive. I have to admit that I do understand what they mean. To me this article felt very short-sighted too. I just won’t believe that the vast majority of conservative Christians think and speak like this. That’s simply not true.
    It might be in your opinion, but you are certainly not a neutral observant by any standard, Will.

  15. Excellent article! Of course, the selection method means it cannot be regarded as significant statistically, but it is very good anecdotal evidence of the general views of modern conservatives. And I agree that the main point is the self-imposed isolation of the conservatives. Since they are mostly Christians, I suspect they are familiar with the significance of “preaching to the choir.”

    It occurs to me that this same problem is being demonstrated now in the “purity” efforts of the Republican Party. It is more important to them to confirm the consensus they have among conservatives than to be conciliatory, in part because they honestly know almost nothing about independent voters. They refer to moving toward the center as “dealing with the devil.” It’s that whole black-or-white, good-or-evil, friend-or-enemy aspect that pervades Christianity as well as their counterparts in the Muslim world. They may dispute which is black and which is white, but they agree that no colors or shades have validity.

  16. Riete:

    As I mentioned to another commenter, yes, these were real responses to a real questionnaire and yes, those were – profanity and all – the real answers I received. As mentioned to another respondent, the liberal (no pun intended) use of “(sic)” was because I didn’t censor, correct, or change any answers – these were as I received them.

    The biggest problem is finding people who’ll respond to a questionnaire about their beliefs. I didn’t state anywhere in the article that this was a scientific survey, or that I had what I felt was anywhere near a representative group – that’s the reason why I entitled the article as I did, rather than trying to write a research-paper – there simply weren’t the respondents to give any sort of balanced view.

    That said, I really fear that this is the sort of thing we’re seeing – while your friends might be Conservative, they’re not making themselves heard – and that’s the problem, plus the reason so many people here in America are so damn scared – The Tancredos, Limbaughs and Palins of America are the ones speaking for America’s Conservatives.

    I don’t expect a moderate Conservative would read this and have anything but disdain; if you query them a little further, though, the real reason would not be that they disagree – but that their viewpoint wasn’t present.

    To that end, I think it would be good to follow this with a ‘part 2’, at that point when I could get enough moderates to actually come out of the woodwork to complete a questionnaire.

    Truly, I thank you for your input. I stand by the article in its entirety; the method by which I collected the data – and if read in the proper light, it exposes the insular nature of the far Right just as much as any viewpoint.

    Again; thanks for reading!

    -Will (“Astra”)

  17. While I see the points made about the research population, I think it is an important revelation that the population was so small. In my experience the personalities I have come across who are rabidly Christian based Conservatives are also, not likely to put their ideals under scrutiny. I am not surprised the participation was so low. And I have a couple of ideas about this.

    1. I don’t think thoughs are fully formed around ideals, some people simply queue up behind anything that has “God” in the sentance. If God ostensibly okayed it, then it must be right. Nevermind God supposedly gave people free will and tells everyone to look within for direction.

    2. I truly think Christians who are not as rabid are afraid of being misunderstood and grouped in with their excentric kinfolk. There are many people who believe in the Judeo-Christian tenants who are also quite reasonable, however it is a truth that people I communicate with often find themselves being asked questions they know nothing about, not being of the rabid sort themselves.

    3. I think we may be experiencing a period where people do not know what to think, do and say anymore. I have a feeling that some of the more reasonable people who also call themselves conservative are trying to work out how a bunch of madmen and women got to the top of the party.

    Some food for thought.

  18. “I think we may be experiencing a period where people do not know what to think, do and say anymore. I have a feeling that some of the more reasonable people who also call themselves conservative are trying to work out how a bunch of madmen and women got to the top of the party.”

    This is probably the most-telling comment about the ‘sweep’ of the piece – and I don’t believe it’s far off the mark.

    When doing the research, it was clear that the far Right (the initial subject of the piece) were very reticent to comment.

    I imagine I’d get a better response from moderates.

    –Will (“Astra”)

  19. First, I followed this link from a link regarding same sex marriage – I have no idea if the point of this survey is in any way linked to this topic or not – but that is why I use the examples I do at the end of this comment.

    Interesting survey – I can’t help but point out that all you really know from this survey is what these seven people think. Which I gather you understand. You did not draw any conclusions, not overtly. However, you have taken these seven people, labeled them as Far Right Religious Conservatives, commented on the insular nature of conservatives in general and far right ones in particular, and basically put out there that somewhere between 10 and 13% of the population, represented by 2 millionths of one percent of that group, are the cause of the polarization in America. Really?

    That’s like taking one person from Woodstock, asking them some questions, and reporting “This is what hippies think.” Except one person out of the half million people that were at Woodstock is two orders of magnitude larger a statistical sampling, and so, the Woodstock Hippy Survey could be argued as more representative.

    So, if it were my survey, I could take the new understanding of what “hippies” think and generalize to all youth in America. Depending who I talked to, I could arrive at the conclusion that all youth in America were free loving dope fiends in the 60s, or that Abbie Hoffman was their spokesperson. Which, simply, was not the case. I’m not sure the question of “What to do about the youth in America?” would be served by this survey.

    And I guess I have the same concerns about yours. I’m not sure the question of “What to do about the polarization in America?” is served by your survey. Again, I know that you specifically did not draw conclusions – but you are labeling a group and calling them responsible. This misses the point, really.

    For example, I know that Religion has been the focus of a lot of ire regarding the same sex marriage setbacks thus far this and last year. Particularly, the Catholic Church is blamed for defeating these measures. Really? Catholics comprise something around 25% of the total self-identified christian population in this country, and less than half of these Catholics actually practice their religion (measured as attending mass, taking the sacraments, paying attention to church teaching like don’t use contraception, etc.) So, 12% of the population in California controlled the polls there? No. Simply, something else is going on there. Yes, I have also heard about the money they have given in support of these campaigns. Like in one state $50,000. Never mind that several millions of dollars were spent in total and that 50k is not a significant percentage of those millions. My point is that one can’t lay the defeat of same-sex marriage in 30 states at the feet of far right religious conservatives. There are not enough of them to accomplish that.

    Perhaps your next survey could attempt to understand what is actually happening with this polarization in America and look beyond Far Right Religious Conservatives. There simply are not enough of them to have created this polarization.

  20. Frater:

    Thank you for your commentary, and for finding Subversify. We have a lot here on an ongoing basis which you’ll find worth bookmarking the site!

    As to my article, I was pretty clear that this wasn’t a representative sample, a statistical research-piece, nor did I state that this was anything other than “Conversations with Conservatives”. I believe I was also pretty careful to point out that any conclusions were based on the people with whom I spoke – not that they were representative of anyone but themselves.

    The people who self-identify as right-conservative also identify as fundamentalist Christians in such significant numbers (the stats are easily available on this; I didn’t bother to post them) as to make both groups almost one and the same. In his book “Republican Gomorrah”, Blumenthal cites most of these stats, and they are sufficiently up-to-date enough as to be reliable.

    The piece above was intended to do two things – first, it was to give a ‘window’ to those of us who are liberal/progressive regarding some of the beliefs and primary motivations of a group we’ve all accepted as existing, and existing in sufficient numbers to be a real motive-force in American politics; secondly, it was intended to give a few of those people a voice and a chance to make themselves heard.

    What I learned was that, as other researchers have taken the time to prove exhaustively, they really are an insular group, with little motivation or desire to speak to those of us who are ‘on the other side’.

    Did 12% of California control the polls?

    I’ll say this – it’s unscientific; but reasoned – it’s a quote by Margaret Mead: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Those things are worth remembering – these people have influence far beyond their numbers – and, depending on which side of the argument you’re on, that’s either a great thing or a great danger to American democracy.

    Thanks again for reading!

    -“Astra”

  21. I’m gonna get lit up by the softies but I’ll say it anyway: If you want to live in America, learn English. We should not have to cater to immigrants who can’t be bothered to try and assimilate. Also, pay taxes. I have an honest job and each paycheck a nice hefty chuck disappears to the government (the same government that wants to give these people drivers licenses..wtf). Diversity is great, but if you want to live here and expect people to welcome you with open arms, contribute to our culture.. don’t try and resist it

  22. Please contact a staff member if you intend to refrence. We allow all authors complete copyright control so you will need both our permission and theirs.

  23. At last a great write-up regarding the topic, continue the great work and I wish to examine even more from you in the near future.

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