I celebrated Easter yesterday with my ultra conservative family. I love my family but they have gone so far to the right over the past 8 years that it is difficult to have any sort of discussion with them. I think they are typical of conservatives born in the baby boom. They are scarred by the culture wars and the hatred they have for the left is so strong that it becomes disturbing.I'll be travelling with my wife and sons to Fresno on Thursday to spend the weekend at my father-in-law's. Fox News will be on all morning, then most likely some History Channel in the afternoon. We'll have big dinners with the extended family on the weekends. The views expressed by Sullivan's reader will be bread and butter around the dinner table. I'll be very comfortable hanging out and rejoicing in the community of people who love America without having to think about it first.
Another important point is that 9/11 pushed them away from any level of pragmatism. My family is originally from Manhattan, so 9/11 was taken as a very personal attack. My father worked on the 76th floor of the WTC for years, he lost a lot of friends that day...
So with this in mind I compiled a few themes from the days discussions that you might find interesting (or horrifying). None of this is ground breaking but it is interesting to see these generalizations about the current conservative movement be personified in ones family.
1. Total insulation from MSM.
Everyone refuses to read the New York Times or Washington Post. Sunday morning while getting ready for Church I put on "Meet the Press" and my father looked on with disgust and changed the channel to Fox News. At dinner I brought up an article in The Economist that was critical of Barack Obama and my uncle said that it was a socialist rag.
2. Distrust of centrists When discussing the future of the Republican party I suggested that we needed to create a bigger tent and avoid social issues that alienated us from younger voters. My GRANDMOTHER responded that we don't need the back benchers like Christopher Buckley dictating our principles. I think that line was straight from the Mark Levin show.
3. Neoconservative aspirations The most interesting part of the day, was that so much of the discussion focused on the Somali Pirate issue. It was the story of the day, but I didn't think their was that much to talk about. Surely, not as interesting as talking about Iran, Obama's budget, the economy etc. However we spent most of the day discussing Obama's lackluster response to the issue and the weakness he displayed in not acting quicker. My father was incensed that the media kept referring to this as a crime rather then an act of terrorism. His suggestion was to engage in a land war in Somalia...
It convinced me of one thing that if a new conservatism is going to flourish, it is going to have to be led by a younger generation. People born between 1947 and 1960 have way too much baggage.
Conservatism is alive and well in this country, and it makes me happy to see an example of regular folks (not "extreme") living their lives not much differently from how my family members live.
Memo to Andrew: I know conservatives. My family is conservative. You, sir, are no conservative.